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Mkamboi Mwakale, a Kenyan Entrepreneur Harnessing the Power of Moringa to Create Natural Hair Products

The world is waking up to the natural benefits of Moringa, and for Mkamboi Mwakale, founder of Saru Organics, it was the inspiration for the launch of a new passion-driven business. Today, the business is not only winning legions of consumers, but it is also making a big difference to the lives of those growing this wonderful plant.

LoA found out more about this passion driven business and brand this month.

What does your company do?

At Saru Organics, we create hair care products for kinky ethnic hair using ethically sourced organic ingredients that nourish and give the hair lustre and moisture.

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“We are also looking into becoming a pan African business with footprints all over the continent of Africa.”

What inspired you to start your company?

My inspiration came from the Moringa farmers back at my village in Taita-Taveta county. I had just discovered Moringa powder and had successfully used it to tame flu and colds for my daughter and myself. We had visited my village and I had my jar of Moringa powder that I was still using to make my daily Moringa tea. However, as I was enjoying my Moringa tea, a farmer who had just visited us was curious to know what I was taking and I gladly told him. It was his response that broke my heart. He said, “That Moringa tree we planted in all our farms expecting some economic benefit from it, but they didn’t come to buy”. From the conversation I gathered that they had been advised to plant the tree and expect it to yield bountiful returns. I felt bad for him and wondered why on earth it was that such a miracle plant was not making good returns for the farmers. This was the burden that I carried back to Nairobi. His disappointed look when he talked about  Moringa still registered on my mind days later after the visit and I vowed to do something. I started by reading as much content as I could find about the Moringa tree. It was during this research and study that I discovered it’s oil potent benefits for the beauty industry and that’s how I began creating hair care products using Moringa oil. The real win for me was finding out about its high moisturizing ability with about 14% natural occurring behenic acid, coupled with the moisture needs of Afrocentric hair and I had just found my perfect solution.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

We are keen on using 100% biodegradable ingredients and that means we care hugely  about our environment. We stay away from chemicals that have been linked with negative effects to human health such as parabens and silicones. We formulate products that are not only gentle on you, but you can also trust them with your little ones – it’s safe for the entire family. Thirdly, the reason why it all began, to help our small scale farmers benefit economically as well from its planting. We are making a social impact to not only the lives of Moringa farmers, but also Macadamia, Avocado and Baobab farmers in Kenya. We promise you will fall in love with your natural hair more once you use our well thought out organically formulated products with beautiful scents!

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“We are keen on using 100% biodegradable ingredients and that means we care hugely  about our environment. We stay away from chemicals that have been linked with negative effects to human health such as parabens and silicones.”

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Tell us a little about your team

My partner is a financial expert so he is the person who maintains and looks at our numbers to ensure we remain financially sound. Without this input it would have been more difficult so I salute him for the hard work. We have a production assistant whom we work together with in our production unit. This is a very helpful lady who lives near our workshop space and has been trained on the whole processing system. We have a social media intern who handles our digital marketing. We have two marketing and sales personnel who help with marketing activities especially inside the stores where our products retail – one is based in Nairobi, Kenya and the other lady is based in Kampala, Uganda and is our representative for the Ugandan market.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

I once did a lifestyle print magazine back in campus dubbed “Varsity Phunk” and had great content, but the business never lived to see it’s first anniversary. This was my first and  very expensive hands-on lesson on entrepreneurship. It taught me the importance of starting lean and not counting my chicks before they hatch! Though the collapse of the business shook me hugely, I found myself back again to self employment after not finding fulfillment in my 8 to 5 employed job, which actually saw me fired. As a single mum of one I had to think first on where the next meal would come from and the roof over our heads, and so I began a branded merchandising firm. I wrote emails to as many companies and people as I knew and slowly assignments started trickling in. Though the branding business generated and still does generate some income, it’s in starting Saru Organics that I found my passion and felt I am making an impact. I love what I do, it doesn’t matter how many times I have had to sleep less hours or the sacrifices I have had to make. At the end of the day, seeing a kind review from a customer on how much they appreciate the results after using our products makes it all worth it!

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

We plan to diversify and get to skin care on finished products. We are also looking into becoming a pan African business with footprints all over the continent of Africa. We want to reach those organic lovers in Europe, bringing them the magic touch of Saru Organics products, and this we are doing by changing the Afrocentric narrative one crown at a time.

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“We are making a social impact to not only the lives of Moringa farmers, but also Macadamia, Avocado and Baobab farmers in Kenya. We promise you will fall in love with your natural hair more once you use our well thought out organically formulated products with beautiful scents!”

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

Making a difference in people’s lives, be it that a customer gets value for their money by spending it on a highly performing organic product that delivers what it promises, or the small scale organic farmer who is grateful for having chosen the less travelled path…as long as I have made that positive impact I am most satisfied.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

Do not wait any longer because you have found out the money at hand is not enough. I will tell you what very few people do have ‘enough’ Capital – the majority of us began with the little we had, just believing and making steps and before long you will be rewarded for your diligence. So step out and create that dream from the unbelievably humble beginning!

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