Formulas for Zimbabwean villager’s Micro Business

I’m an Australian living on the Gold Coast in Queensland.  Through the internet I met a woman a year ago who is a single mother in a remote village in Zimbabwe. Her name is Blessing and she supports her elderly parents, and her two children. Due to the pandemic she has been unable to sell her vegetables at the markets as they have all been closed.


She has been eeking a living cutting and braiding hair -- $1 for a hair cut and $8 for braids.  I began looking for ideas for her to increase her income and thought selling hair products would add a little extra income.  Most of the ‘recipes’ on the internet are based on no research and don’t have any preservatives added to them.  No preservatives is a major concern as most of the villagers have no power let alone refrigeration.


Aloe Vera grows prolifically where she lives, and she is able to walk to a near-by town (a three hour walk) to get supplies from a pharmacy.  I can also post some things to her if she can’t access them, however the only delivery system available to Zimbabwe at the moment is via sea freight and it’s extremely expensive.


I was hoping that this forum could help me in coming up with some basic (and fairly inexpensive) formulas for her that she can make up and sell to hair dressing clients.

Thank you,


  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    I should think that she will be able to get red palm oil locally. With sodium hydroxide that can be made into soap. Hair clients, I'd make a basic shampoo with SLES/CAPB/CDEA, pH adjusted with citric acid, peservatives are needed in such a small percentage that post could be the answer for those. If there is a bottling plant for soft drinks anywhere near, she could probably obtain sodium benzoate and citric acid there. However there are other possibilities too. Olabisi Glow (see Facebook) in Nigeria does things like "yoni steaming" and her business, Glitz 'n Glow, seems to be doing well. I'm currently advising another member of this group on beginning a new brand, he's in Nigeria.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • She can import pure Aloe Vera gel to South Africa, its in high demand for multiple products - She can preserve with Vitamin E, citric acid potassium sorbate 
  • I have experience working remotely with groups in Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. Our speciality in our GMP certified production facility on Penang Island is producing face wash, shampoo and body wash by saponifying commonly found plant oils. The advantage is that these do not require preservatives.

    With a group I'm working with remotely in Ghana, I've got them to the stage of producing 84 Kg batches of Body Wash using oils they harvest and produce.

    In my opinion, and from my experience (I've worked 40 years in development and poverty alleviation in many developing countries), it would be very difficult for her as an individual to make much progress. Better to think of forming a local collective.
    Dr. Mike Thair
    Cofounder & Chief Formulator
    Indochine Natural
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