Zuwaira Isah-Ikharo is the founder and CEO of Amal Botanicals, a prominent baby care brand based in Nigeria. Zuwaira has carved a remarkable path in the business world, driven by her passion for improving the lives of mothers and babies.
Hailing from Kaduna State in Nigeria, Isah-Ikharo grew up in an environment steeped in entrepreneurship. Despite her parents’ primary roles as a lecturer and immigration controller, they were not strangers to side ventures. Isah-Ikharo’s mother ran a provision shop, and her father co-authored a best-selling book on small business and food processing. Nevertheless, Isah-Ikharo charted an unconventional course in developing her entrepreneurial skills.
Initially, she embarked on her professional journey in the line of accounting, serving as a chartered accountant for diverse entities, including the Federal Inland Revenue Service in Nigeria. Her expertise lay in taxation and forensic accounting. The intention was to forge a path to the summit of her accounting career, potentially establishing her own firm. However, everything changed when she became pregnant, prompting her, akin to Alba, to tap into her maternal and protective instincts for her unborn children.
“In 2013, she welcomed her triplets, marking the commencement of her entrepreneurial journey. Given that her children were born prematurely and had a high-risk pregnancy, she was advised to avoid certain products and cosmetics. The conventional baby care items she purchased were unsuitable for their needs. As my infants were in the incubator and undergoing therapy, I sought something more natural and free of toxins for their care,” explains Isah-Ikharo.
Isah-Ikharo encountered a challenge because she couldn’t find products on the market that instilled the trust she sought. This prompted her to initiate her own research, utilizing her personal Instagram page to document how she cared for her triplets and experimented with various products.
In her pursuit to formulate reliable products, Isah-Ikharo enrolled in a course offered by a cosmetic science formulation company in London, specifically tailored to children. Following her certification, she embarked on crafting her distinctive formulations, which she subsequently shared with her circle of family and friends.
Her initial offerings, comprising a moisturizing cream, calming shea oil, foamy bath wash, and African black bar soap, quickly became top-selling products.
Presently, Amal Botanicals remains self-funded and has experienced natural growth, with its products being shipped to all 36 states in Nigeria and to Ghana. However, this expansion has not been without its share of challenges.
“One of the significant difficulties we’ve faced is related to the sourcing of raw materials, exacerbated by the impact of the global exchange rate on businesses. Currently, a majority of our packages are still imported as we strive to compete with global brands. Consequently, there is a high cost associated with importation, with our packages sourced from China, making the back-and-forth communication with manufacturers a laborious process,” notes Isah-Ikharo.
Despite the numerous challenges, she is driven to establish a prominent baby care brand in Africa, and with her products consistently selling out, the prospect for the future appears exceptionally promising.