How To Start Cosmetics And Beauty Products Business In Africa

Technically speaking, any substance used to beautify and promote the attractiveness of the human body is a cosmetic product. This makes cosmetics a very large product category that includes makeup (also known as color cosmetics), fragrance, facial skin care and hair care.

The market for cosmetics and beauty in Africa is huge and still growing. Africa‘s young and fashion-conscious middle class population is fuelling demand for cosmetic products.

Another interesting reason for this growing demand is that more African women (many of whom are getting educated and employed) are becoming economically empowered. As a result of these factors, billions of dollars are spent every year on cosmetic and beauty products in Africa.

In 2011, South Africa alone represented $3.9 billion, the highest of the total market for cosmetics and beauty products in Africa. Nigeria and Kenya were second and third among sub-Saharan nations, with Kenya‘s market totaling more than $260 million.

Business Concept

To find quality makeup of any brand is a challenge in most parts of Africa – and the quality products available are often expensive. Looking at some of the cosmetic products that have become hugely successful in Africa in the last few years, it appears that a successful business concept is based on developing a reasonably priced African brand of high quality.

You could use direct marketing schemes for sales, such as Avon, a globally recognized brand that uses a network of independent sales teams who sell directly to homes or during marketing events. This way you could reach out to a much bigger market and at the same time build income stream for thousands of Africans who want to join the network and start selling your products.

Niche Ideas

Makeup school and training courses

Makeup artistry

Top Countries & Policy Guidance

Makeup products will see increased popularity in Africa‘s fast rising middle class across the continent.

Action & Tips

The best start is to find out from women (or men) in your target market about the state of makeup and beauty care products in a certain country. As consumers, they will be able to quickly point out the strength, challenges or weaknesses in the market. Or maybe you are a consumer yourself and have long understood that there was a certain gap. Act on it!

If you need a detailed insight of the market in a certain country, type in the specific product (for example makeup‘) + country in the search engine of You will find a summary of that particular market for free, and there is the option to purchase an entire market research report for certain countries in Africa.

Success Story

Suzie Wokabi – Suzie Beauty (Kenya)

Suzie Beauty was created by Kenyan entrepreneur Suzie Wokabi, a US-trained makeup artist who runs her business in Kenya and found it hard to source quality makeup for her work. This motivated her to create her own makeup line. She struggled to receive financing for several years, using her home as a laboratory for her makeup collection. Her company is now worth over $1 million.

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