Knowledge for a sustainable world

Authors: Ben Bennett

 Cosmetics made from the Namibian myrrh, Commiphora Wildii, a natural product used by the indigenous Himba people as body scent, will be on display during the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), 26-31 October 2013. This will increase awareness of the product, helping to secure income for local harvesting communities.

The cosmetics are a product of Namibia's Essential Oil Challenge Fund competition, which receives technical support from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) and financial support from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Namibia) through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a fund set up by the Government of the United States of America.

Working with local harvesting groups of the Himba people of northwest Namibia, the MCA-Namibia project, which began in 2010, promotes the sustainable wild harvesting of plant products. These products are then linked to high value local and international markets encouraging communities to manage their open access resources, thus ensuring future income.

A competition was launched, the first of its type in Namibia, to encourage Namibians to generate innovative cosmetics through the use of Namibian myrrh essential oils.

Each of the fund's entries comprised of a minimum of two prototypes containing Namibian myrrh essential oil. The products were evaluated on their smell, appearance and texture, packaging design and pricing strategy, product formulation and importantly, the viability of their business idea and suitability for the proposed target market.

Nine entrants with a total of 42 products were submitted ranging from lip balms to soap, body scrubs to facial oils and body butters to room fresheners. Submissions were evaluated by an independent international panel,.

"I was impressed. Keep on the passion." were the remarks of one of the judges, Fabienne Bourhis, from the world famous fragrance house, V Mane Fils, France.

"We should be proud the industry is moving forward and value addition can be stimulated in the future," the MCA-Namibia Director for Agriculture, Dr Helmke Sartorius von Bach, said at the prize-giving ceremony.

The Natural Resources Institute/MCA-Namibia team will provide follow-up support to the winners to help guide the next stage of product development. The products will be launched officially at the upcoming Namibian Tourism Expo in Windhoek, later this year. If you are interested in buying commercial quantities of these products please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who will put you in touch with the winners.