Source: Suotunimi Orufa/Ventures Africa

The African market is one of the most lucrative for beauty businesses. According to Statista, the beauty industry currently increases between 8% and 10% per year against a global market growth rate of 4%. At this rate, Africa’s beauty market is projected to be worth $77.81bn by 2028. This vast potential is a result of the continent’s growing middle class and youthful population. Africa is home to the youngest population in the world with more than half of its one billion people below the age of 20. A report by Deloitte reveals that Africa’s middle class has tripled in the last three decades, with one in three people now living above the poverty line. This is why top beauty companies like Fenty Beauty and Sephora have invested in Africa in recent years.

In the same manner, tech startups in Africa are leveraging the booming cosmetics industry. These startups are revolutionizing the sector through innovative technologies and platforms, offering convenience, access, and personalized experiences to consumers. From virtual try-on tools and AI-powered diagnostics to AR-enabled product demonstrations, beauty tech innovations are reshaping the way beauty brands sell, grow, and engage with customers. Just as technology is steadily revolutionizing certain sectors with massive growth potential, like the financial sector, these tech startups are on a mission to ensure Africa’s beauty industry reaches maximum potential. This fusion of cutting-edge technology and beauty gives the industry a necessary makeover. Here are five tech startups leveraging on Africa’s growing beauty industry.

Uncover Skincare (Kenya)

Uncover Skincare is a Kenya-based startup, that aims to meet the needs of the modern African woman by creating data-led skincare products. By combining technology from South Korea’s advanced skincare industry and local market insights, Uncover produces tailored products for African women. The startup offers a six-step online skincare quiz and a teleconsultation service through its e-commerce platform. They also focus on building a digital community and educational platform through its content distribution via social media, blogs, and newsletters. Uncover CEO Sneha Mehta highlights building a digital community and an educational platform as key aspects of the business.

Last year, Uncover Skincare raised $1 million in seed funding to scale its operations in East Africa and expand to Nigeria. The brand also recently introduced a new range of skincare products in the market, with plans to launch more. Its products are sold through its online platform, on marketplaces and in the stores of partner brands.

WALA (Nigeria)

Wala, was established by marketplace early-stage investor Henry Ogbuagu when he returned to Lagos after over 13 years of living abroad and didn’t know where to find salons in Lekki. It worried him that most tech investments in Nigeria are fintechs, and there were no tech-enabled platforms for the beauty and wellness industry. “Some of the problems we identified early were first; the industry was not innovating like other industries – food, grocery shopping and travel/hospitality.

People still go to salons and sit, waiting for other people before they get their turn, a lot of the salons were operating as mom-and-pop shops with no process automation or tech enablement. And with the pandemic, I know that people will crave convenience now more than ever,” he told Business Africa Online.

Wala provides a platform that enables beauty professionals to offer on-demand salon services without the need for a physical location or upfront investment. The platform’s main customers are beauty professionals that are looking to start or run a salon business but are limited by location and capital. With Wala, these beauty professionals can run their on-demand salon services without needing a physical location or upfront investment.

The platform also serves the “moms & pops” of beauty and wellness services that use the platform to grow their business beyond on-premise service delivery. In 2021, Wala premiered the Beauty Tech Festival for the beauty and wellness industry. The event was created to engage with all stakeholders in the industry with seasoned speakers and over 200 barbers, hair stylists, makeup artists, nail technicians, fitness/yoga instructors, salon owners, operators, and beauty product manufacturers and suppliers to engage and drive a conversation about the future of beauty.

Avon ON (South Africa)

Avon ON is a beauty App that automates various functions, saving representatives time while empowering them to leverage their networks through social media. A product of South Africa’s largest beauty company, Avon, the app allows young people to earn an income by selling high-quality, affordable beauty and personal care products through their digital channels. 

Avon representatives can earn an income by selling high-quality beauty products, working from home or on the go, and having access to a wide range of promotional marketing materials. Representatives can also build their own customer base and participate in Avon’s incentive programs. The platform also provides business management tools and personalized digital brochures for its representatives.

Vutia (Kenya)

Vutia, a Kenyan startup, has developed a virtual marketplace that democratizes access to quality cosmetics and beauty products in Africa. Acting as a distribution platform between brands and businesses, Vutia sources products directly from manufacturers and delivers them at competitive prices to informal traders, beauty salons, SPAs, and beauty shops. Users can order products in bulk through Vutia’s website or by sending SMS and WhatsApp messages. The platform also offers users the opportunity to become cosmetics sellers or Vutia agents, earning money by promoting and delivering beauty products in their communities.

In February 2023, the platform was selected along with four other startups by the Baobab Network’s 2023 acceleration program. The selection entitles it to $50,000 support and the opportunity to be presented to potential investors during demo days.

Glamera (MENA Region)

Glamera, is a beauty-tech startup that provides an all-in-one platform for managing beauty services in the MENA region. The All-In-One platform provides B2B services to beauty and lifestyle services providers such as beauty salons, barber shops, gyms, spas, and makeup artists. It also provides a B2B2C marketplace where consumers find such providers and book sessions with them. Users can book appointments with contracted providers, including salons, clinics, spas, gyms, and dental services. 

The startup has tens of thousands of users and hundreds of providers in Egypt and is also active in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Last year, the startup raised $1.3 million in seed funding in a round led by Riyadh Angel Investors to help it expand operations across the MENA region. “We have successfully validated the market need, and now we can confidently work towards leading the market with our fully integrated solutions. We aim to work with over 2,500 clients and achieve $500 million GMV by the end of 2023,” said CEO and founder, Mohamed Hassan.

Source: Suotunimi Orufa/Ventures Africa