Plan to turn Kenyan weed into cosmetics wins global award

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care products Cosmetics

A team of students from Kenya has bagged the Global Enterprise Experience award for a project that proposes to develop cosmetics from the Amaranth plant.

The business concept proposed to train and develop networks for women in rural communities in Kenya to grow grain Amaranth, an indigenous plant that is commonly found throughout the country.

It is cultivated as a crop, but also often grows as weed, which many farmers use pesticides to try and keep under control.

Amaranth oil as a stabilizer

The seeds from grain Amaranth can be used to create a useful oil that contains lipid compounds with a high degree of unsaturation that can be used in both food and personal care products to provide a wide ranging temperature stability.

The business concept proposed that the oils could be sold for cosmetic and personal care products, where margins for ingredients are generally higher than in other market segments.

Likewise the project also proposed that the plant by-products – the roots, stems and leaves – could also be used by the local communities as nutritional food products.

International teams of students

In total there were 68 international teams that entered the competition, which is run in co-operation with educational establishments worldwide and co-ordinated by the Victoria University, Australia and the Te Kaihau Education Trust, New Zealand.

Each ‘virtual’ team met online regularly to discuss strategies and to further develop their business concepts, which this year was specifically targeted at helping develop a profitable proposal that helped foster social and economic benefits for women.

The winning entry consisted of a team of international students, which included Jas Giri of New Zealand, Andrea Serna Restrepo of Colombia, Jason Kirby and Alyssa Silver from the US, Oyehan Tajudeen Adeyinka of Nigeria and Miha Sebenik of Sweden, who will each receive NZ$1,000 ($711).

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