For Sharon Njavika, the idea of starting her own business began while she was studying abroad in Staffordshire, England. How We Made it in Africa notes that Njavika was one of the only black females in the city and therefore had limited to access to hair and skincare products that fit her needs.
She would have to travel to the next town over to get her hair chemically straightened and recalls becoming frustrated with the constant upkeep of her looks, which she believed were necessary in order to fit in with her surrounding culture.
Njavika told How We Made it in Africa, “one time my friend was doing my hair and I got a bad wound from the chemical relaxer. It was a big flesh wound, and the experience was traumatic.” After this incident, Njavika ditched the chemicals and started looking for a more natural way to manage her hair.
As an HCD (Health, Community and Development) graduate, Njavika utilized her practice of health and well-being to create her own social enterprise, AJANI handmade. Journalist Banke Falade recognizes that AJANI handmade markets natural hair products specifically for black hair as well as general natural hair care.
Njavika writes, “The business model is grounded in perpetuating messages and images of worth, beauty, agency and capacity by and for African women. Through participating in and facilitating conversations online and otherwise, we aim to address the sometimes ignored, often dynamic, social narratives that affect young African women.”
Njavika’s business is based in Kenya, where a growing number of women are embracing the natural look.
However, Njavika social enterprise faces some challenges, such as limited access to financing, raw materials and high quality packing materials. The young entrepreneur also keeps a full-time job in order to cover her personal expenses and fund the growing business.
An African blog writer commented, “she has such a passion and drive for this new company that I can only see it developing, growing and thriving in the months and years to come. I think the aspect that most caught my attention is the fact that AJANI Handmade is much more than just selling beauty/care products. They focus on self-love, confidence, well-being and supporting black women.”
Njavika focuses on perpetuating messages of beauty and self-worth, demonstrating the principles that drive her social enterprise, AJANI handmade.
– Megan Hadley