Shea butter and black soap are the stars at Kaeme. In its soaps, creams and lotions, the cosmetics brand from Ghana reinterprets what women in West Africa have always used to care for their skin and hair. Freda Obeng-Ampofo, a political scientist and economist, is the founder - and as she calls herself "chief mixer" - of Kaeme. In an interview with 'Manuyoo', Freda tells how she came up with the idea for Kaeme, why women are better entrepreneurs and where Kaeme products will soon be on the shelves.
What is the story behind Kaeme, why did you start the brand?
Freda: I grew up with four older brothers like the fifth boy. Cosmetics were not important to me, for my face and body I only used shea butter and black soap, a homemade natural soap with ash from banana peels or palm leaves. Even during my studies and my first jobs in Europe and the USA, I made my own care products.
However, in a different recipe. The old products didn't spread well and didn't smell good, so I mixed the ingredients more intensively and added natural fragrance oils. A few years ago I made a bespoke cosmetic set for a friend as a wedding gift for her. Other female wedding guests wanted it too, I started producing more and suddenly I realized that my products had business potential.
What were the challenges for you on the way to your own company?
How is it that in Ghana and other African countries it is often women who set up startups? Is entrepreneurship in Africa female?
Why are there no global brands "Made in Africa"?
That seems to be changing. At least in the cosmetics industry. Kaeme is not the only African manufacturer of high-quality, modern shea butter products. What sets Kaeme apart from the competition?
What is your vision for Kaeme?
Freda: There is no telling what long-term consequences the Covid19 crisis will have for us. But something inside me tells me that the crisis makes us even stronger.
We love telling the KAEME story because we believe it reflects the true Ghanaian spirit of ingenuity, courage and perseverance.