Podozi is Africa’s first online store focused solely on the beauty needs of women of color. Launched in 2015 in Nigeria, the site has built up an inventory of 4,000-plus makeup, skin care, and hair products from international brands such as Maybelline, Sebamed U.S., Black Opal, and Oriflame, as well as emerging African beauty brands. The site’s technology allows shoppers to create a profile and then get targeted recommendations based on their complexion, skin type, and hair texture.
In 2016, Podozi was selected for the Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups accelerator program, and it has additional backing from the VC Savannah Fund, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Cofounder and CTO Wale Babatunde says customer acquisition has been a challenge because, in Nigeria and neighboring countries, online shopping is still something of a novelty, hampered by low rates of smartphone adoption and the complexities of payments in a country where few people have bank or credit cards. (The bulk of Podozi’s orders are cash on delivery.) But underlying trends in technology and financial services are encouraging, and the market is a big one. The company plans to expand into at least one new market in 2017.