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Himba scent for local market

The winners of the Namibian Essential Oil Innovation competition, Tamarind Nott (left) and Sophia Snyman with their winning products (Photograph by Julian Fennessy).

The winners of the Namibian Essential Oil Innovation competition, Tamarind Nott (left) and Sophia Snyman with their winning products (Photograph by Julian Fennessy).

Earlier this year, the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, with financial support from the Millenium Challenge Account (MCA) Namibia’s Indigenous Natural Products Innovation Fund launched the first competition of its type in the country under the Namibian Essential Oil Innovation (NEOI) project, to encourage Namibians to conceive innovative cosmetic uses of Namibian myrrh essential oil.

The two winners, Tamarind Nott (Rare Scent) and Sophia Snyman (Desert Secrets) were announced on last week Friday and each received a prize of N$35,000 to support the launch of their newly developed products.
Nine entrants with a total of 42 products were submitted ranging from lip balms to soaps, body scrubs to facial oils, and body butters to room sprays. Follow up support to the winners will be provided by the Natural Resources Institute/MCA-Namibia Team to help guide the next stage of product development to have them launched officially at the upcoming Namibian Tourism Expo in Windhoek in May.
This innovative and successful Challenge Fund will produce not only an entirely new array of products for the Namibian and international market, but hopefully inspire more Namibians to explore their entrepreneurial flair and use local products for the local market.
Namibian myrrh has been sustainably harvested for a long period in Namibia’s northwest by the  Himba people. It is one of many valuable natural products they use to scent their bodies. Most recently support from the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) and financial assistance from MCA-Namibia through the Natural Resources Institute, enabled the newly established Opuwo Processing Facility (OPF) to become operational.
The Opuwo Processing Facility is a jointly owned business by members of five community forests in the Kunene Region who are engaged in the sustainable harvesting of Namibian myrrh and other ‘new’ and exciting natural products for distilling into essential oils. Namibia’s only community run essential oil manufacturing centre, the OPF is located on the outskirts of Opuwo.
The Namibia’s Essential Oil Challenge Fund aims to create and expand local markets for Namibian Myrrh essential oil, which in turn will provide a sustainable financial business for the nomadic Himba people who harvest the naturally exuding resin.
The Challenge Fund aims to providefinancial support to Namibians keen to generate income through the sustainable use of indigenous natural plant products and to develop products to sell at the soon to be developed Opuwo Visitors Centre.
Each of the Challenge Fund entries comprised a minimum of two prototype products which contain Namibian myrrh essential oil.
The Challenge Fund entrants’ products were evaluated on the smell, appearance and texture of the prototype products, packaging design, pricing strategy, product formulation and the viability of their business idea and suitability for the proposed target market. Each entrant was asked to briefly explain the product and their marketing strategy followed by probing questions from the judges to test the business concept and its viability.
An independent international panel of judges was called together for the judging of the products and the presentations of each of the entrants. The judges were Fabienne Bourhis (Perfumer, V. Mane Fils), Dr. Pauline Lindeque (Senior Manager Strategic Marketing, Sales and Communication, Namibia Wildlife Resorts), Lizette Foot (General Manager, Team Namibia), Dave Cole (INP Manager, MCA-Namibia) and Dr. Julian Fennessy (Team Leader, Natural Resources Institute).

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