With the plague of skin bleaching on the African continent, it is refreshing to see that more and more Africans are taking matters of showcasing our natural beauty and homegrown natural beauty products into their hands by offering Africans an alternative to western made products and images of beauty. The growth of the African beauty business is making Africa and the world recognize that the African beauty industry is an under explored and viable commerce sector that can generate millions to billions! From the rise African shea butter usage globally, to campaigns in Senegal from Nuul Kukk loosely translated to pitch black -bringing awareness to the harmful usage and messages of skin bleaching by praising natural Blackness, the business of beauty in Africa is ready for its Close Up!
"Ghana's Grace Amey-Obeng, one of West Africa's most successful businesswomen, made her fortune promoting products which emphasised the beauty of the black skin, at a time when many of her competitors were selling dangerous skin-bleaching formulas.
The business empire she started a quarter of a century ago with around $100 (£63) now has an annual turnover of between $8m and $10m.
The women in the market had destroyed their skin with all this kind of beauty products, bleaching products”
Her FC Group of Companies - which includes a beauty clinic, a firm that supplies salon equipment and cosmetics, and a college - has eight branches in Ghana and exports to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Mrs Amey-Obeng has won dozens of accolades and industry awards for her skincare beauty products and marketing.
But one of the things that make her especially proud is her FC Beauty College which, since its opening in 1999, has trained more than 5,000 young people, mostly women.
Amey-Obeng studied beauty therapy in the United Kingdom and after graduation, in the 1980s, returned to her native Ghana.
She knew that in her country women take great pride in their appearance and was convinced that there was a niche market she could "tap into".
Working out of her bag and going from house to house she advised people on skincare.
Soon, however, she became aware that there was "a lot of skin-bleaching going on", a trend she found "alarming" and something that is common in much of Africa.
"The women in the market had destroyed their skin with all this kind of beauty products, bleaching products, and so I saw the need for assisting them to reverse the process because otherwise it would become a social problem," she said.
"The level of damage - in this climate - bleaching does is irreparable," she added.
Not long after her return to Ghana, she opened her first beauty clinic with financial support from her family.
"I couldn't access any funds from the bank. I didn't even think about it because everybody said 'In this country nobody will give you money'".
Business loan offers came pouring in only after her business had been running for three years."