Tutuwa Ahwoi, a Ghanaian beauty brand-builder empowering women — Lionesses of Africa

Lioness Weekender spoke to the purpose-driven Tutuwa Ahwoi to learn more about what drives her to build a business and brand that empowers women communities and customers alike.

What does your company do?

Nokware makes solution-driven natural skincare.

Nokware [“Knock-Wah-Ri”] means “Truth” in Twi, a local Ghanaian language. Originating from Africa’s rich traditions and resources, Nokware is a 100% natural, clean skincare brand. Our products are made with natural ingredients that are sourced from sustainable local farms across Africa and packaged in sustainable, earth friendly packaging. We source our ingredients like shea butter and oils, and all our packaging like calabashes, raffia and jutes from local, Ghanaian women with whom we practice fair trade, zero-exploitation policy, because economic inclusion is our ultimate goal. We believe together, we can use commerce as a means to empower female communities and do business in a more beautiful way – with purpose.

What inspired you to start your company?

There’s a journey in every Nokware jar and It started with two African girls and a dream.

Tutuwa and Thato, a Ghanaian and a Motswana met in 2014 in Paris for their Masters degrees. As the only two black girls in their year group, they quickly bonded. Tutuwa unconsciously introduced Thato to her great-grandmother’s black soap and shea butter and Thato became obsessed with it!. The duo moved back to their respective countries in 2016, and Thato constantly begged Tutuwa to send her black soap for her and her friends. One day, Tutuwa had an idea: “why not take this skincare, a recipe passed down by her great-grandma, to the rest of the world?”. Tutuwa excitedly wrote down some concepts. She brainstormed on products, packaging, and strategy, pitched the ideas to Thato and the rest is history! Nokware was officially born in October of 2017! Thato is no longer with Nokware today, but her contribution to the brand will never be forgotten and is forever appreciated.

What makes your business, service or product special?

  1. Nokware’s story is Nokware’s values. We have 5 values here at Nokware:
    The use of African ingredients: Our goal is to promote the use of African herbs, oils and plants, which heal and protect us and can be found in different parts of Africa.

  2. Local sourcing: We source our raw materials such as calabashes and shea butter from local women’s co-operatives, with whom we practice a fair-pricing, zero-exploitation policy.

  3. Women’s empowerment: It is our pressing priority to work towards bridging the gender parity gap by empowering young African women through employment.

  4. Inclusive beauty: By pushing for inclusivity and representation through our marketing campaigns, we are actively promoting a message of self-love and changing the narrative around beauty by providing a space where skin shades that are usually left out are included and represented in a beautiful way.

  5. Sustainable packaging: We want to raise awareness that single-use plastic is not the only way. All around us, nature has provided us with materials that when repurposed, can make beautiful, natural packaging like our repurposed raffia, jute sacks, bamboo, and calabashes.

Tell us a little about your team

The brand is run by a team of 11 amazing Ghanaian women with age ranges from 20 to 46, who truly do it all; from strategy, marketing and finance to research, formulation and production. We are really all about that girl power!

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

They say the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who solve problems that they themselves face. The idea for Nokware came to me at a time when I was job hunting for months to no avail and had the worst acne breakout. Nokware became as much a solution for me, as for all the other young girls who faced the problems I was facing.

My journey to entrepreneurship was equal parts serendipity and grit. Coming from a family where both parents started off in the corporate world and eventually branched off into entrepreneurship, it could be said that I come from an entrepreneurial background.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

Nokware does not plan to stop at just black soaps and shea. We plan to go even deeper into the manufacturing of all categories of clean skincare made from a fusion of African traditions and modern day science. We also plan to keep pushing the boundaries on sustainable packaging and the endless possibilities provided for us by nature for packaging. We are not just selling products, we are selling a message!

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

Looking at all the lives that have been impacted one way or another by the existence of this company – whether young female employees thriving, suppliers who feed their families off the existence of Nokware, customers who have had their frustrations with bad skin turn into joy after using our products, or babies who are now living nappy rash free! That’s what gives me the most joy!

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

Believe in yourself. Never stop, keep going.

To learn more about the Nokware Skincare story, or to contact Tutuwa and her team, send an email to: info@nokwareskincare.com or visit the Nokware website and social media platforms


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