In Benin, the natural cosmetics market is booming

She found the vein and is happy about it

In Benin, the natural cosmetics market is booming

She found the vein and is happy about it. “My company’s turnover increased by 500% between 2018 and 2019,” assures Beninese Caludia Togbé, founder of the Origine Terre brand which offers 100% natural cosmetics. Even during Covid, we continued to sell creams, botanical serums and soaps. For four years, our annual growth has been around 20%. »

In the Jericho district, right in the center of Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin, the store is always full. In a room at the back of the store is the hair salon where the shampoos and lotions sold on the shelves are applied. At the front, customers crowd in front of the shelves. “I come about every four months,” explains Hermione Aouni. I learned about Origine Terre thanks to a gift box that was given to me. Since then, I have subscribed to this brand. I like the quality of the products, the natural packaging and the fact that these cosmetics come from my country. »

Faced with lightening creams and straightening lotions, often composed of chemicals dangerous to health, a market for cosmetics that respect skin and hair has been developing for around ten years in the wave of the Nappy movement (Natural Hair Movement). Cariss’Body Secret, We Naturals, Kari Kari… New brands are emerging in West Africa. With, for some, the additional requirement to produce locally, combining respect for the environment and traditional know-how, as Caludia Togbé does.

This thirty-year-old, born in Parakou, in central Benin, was not dedicated to cosmetics. Passionate about Japanese culture, with multiple degrees in diplomacy and international relations, she dreamed of a career as a senior civil servant. In vain. Unable to find a job, she wonders about her other skills. “Since I was little, people gave me compliments on the quality of my skin,” she says. Since I couldn't find a job, I thought maybe there was something I could do in this field, by marketing the lotions I prepared for myself. They were based on aloe vera for the face or shea butter for the hair. So I decided to design mixtures for others and sell them. »

From 2016, the development of its essential oils, its powders, its fruit essences... occupied it full time. The following year, she officially registered her Origine Terre brand and fought to ensure that the raw materials for her products, such as shea and cocoa, came mainly from cooperatives managed by Beninese women. “My father, an agronomist, showed me how to work the land,” she explains. Seeing a seed become a plant then a tree and then bear fruit has always fascinated me. » For its range of products, it sets two rules: that they are 100% natural and made in Benin.

Confidential turnover

Word of mouth allowed the brand to become known and the business of Caludia Togbé – who prefers to keep her turnover confidential – to take off. Soaps, lotions or creams... Origine Terre's 78 products are all designed in a laboratory in Abomey-Calavi, about twenty kilometers from Cotonou. Only quality control is done abroad, in an English laboratory. Today, all products are available in several West African countries and marketed in Europe (Italy, France, Spain, etc.) via the Internet.

“The size of the cosmeceutical [cosmetic products containing bioactive ingredients believed to have medical benefits] market in Africa is expected to grow from $3.55 billion in 2023 to $4.95 billion by 2028,” Mordor Intelligence forecasts , an Indian firm specializing in marketing research, in a report on beauty product market trends in Africa. This industry has seen rapid growth in recent years in all regions of the continent. » Many international brands have already capitalized on the African middle class and the continent's strong demographics. “Unilever, L'Oréal, Procter and Gamble but also the Indian Godrej and the Chinese Longrich have all invested in the market”, analyzes in a note Business France, the national agency responsible for supporting French companies in their development projects. 'export.

Symbol of the attraction of these large groups for this market, a French cosmetics multinational wanted to join forces with Origine Terre two years ago. “The products would have been distributed throughout the world thanks to their 5,000 stores and the investment was several million euros,” recalls Caludia Togbé. I refused to sign because I did not have sufficient legal guarantees... Today, I prefer to wait for Objectif Terre to develop further before considering a partnership. »