How Ntombenhle Khathwane is Redefining the African Natural Hair Narrative
For most successful entrepreneurs, their entrepreneurship journey starts with an attempt to find solutions to key challenges. For Ntombenhle Khathwane, the inspiration to start AfroBotanics, was out of the frustration of not being able to buy high quality and effective hair products locally.
Swazi-born entrepreneur Ntombenhle Khathwane founded AfroBotanics in 2010. It is a Johannesburg-based company that manufactures and retails premium ethnic haircare products using African botanical oils and other natural products and formulas to care for the hair and limit damage as to the barest minimum.
In an interview with Lionesses of Africa, Khathwane explained that she was motivated by her grandmother, who used natural and botanical oils for her hair, which made the sheen and texture quite admirable and she felt the need to make this easier for Africans in maintaining our natural hair.
She said “We honour African wisdom in our formulations and importantly honour African beauty. As a brand, we don’t make women feel as if what they have is not good enough, we work to assist them to embrace what they have, to learn to work with it and to redefine the dominant beauty narrative.
She continued “We offer a full range of hair products for the natural woman from sulphate-free shampoos, conditioners, treatment masks, to different types of leave-in-conditioners, moisturizers, butters and oils and products for children with natural hair. We also focus on educating our customers on the science of African hair and caring for it because much of prevailing knowledge is based on myths.”
At first, she wanted to import from the States, but she felt it would defeat the main essence of the brand because she wanted to create a brand that rivals international brands so that African manufacturers can benefit from the initiative. The brand has amassed international recognition and the products are eco-friendly
In 2014, Khathwane was the runneer-up in the Standard bank SABC3 Think Big Competition. In 2015, she was named Mail & Guardian 200 young leaders and in the same year she was selected as Investec Young Treps.
In 2016 she was selected as South African representative to spend a month in the USA as part of the AWEP program sponsored by the United States government and was also listed by Forbes Africa as one of 30 entrepreneurs to watch in 2016.
Khathwane is relentless in encouraging African entrepreneurship that produces and sells in Africa, so that Africa starts owning and keeping as much economic activities within its bay.