JOHANNESBURG - A young businesswoman makes no bones about her ambition to conquer Africa with her unique products aimed at empowering women to live their best lives.
Connie Bhebhe, 29, is founder and chief executive of the Bhebhe Groupe, which she established while living in Vancouver, Canada, in 2015.
Companies under Bhebhe Groupe include PRItea, a 28-day package of herbal detox tea; cosmetics range Connie Transform; and waist slimming belt Cobe Fit.
Bhebhe is a certified nutrition therapist, born to to a Zimbabwean mother and South African father. The 29-year-old moved back from Canada to Johannesburg, South Africa, four years ago to focus on building her empire.
Speaking to Business Report from the UK where she is currently on a business trip, Bhebhe says Cobe Fit manufactures thermogenic sweat belts that even the local celebrities have embraced.
“They encourage the body to sweat more around the waist. This product has helped a lot of women to regain their confidence,” says Bhebhe, whose family moved to Canada when she was 12 years old.
She says Cobe Fit has served as a big motivator for thousands of women to take a liking to fitness training.
“We have definitely played a big role in growing the fitness industry in South Africa,” says Bhebhe.
“Celebrities who use our products include rappers Nadia Nakai and Cassper Nyovest.”
TV personalities Pearl Modiadie and Boity Thulo were also proud owners of the product, she says.
“Boity was our first celebrity who wore the product publicly and posted it on social media and Pearl is one of the ambassadors.”
Bhebhe says a lot of companies have tried to copy her product but maintains her firm is the initial manufacture of the product. “The actual uniqueness of our product has not been duplicated.”
Bhebhe, however, says she is most passionate about her youngest company Connie Transform, a company that manufactures women’s cosmetics products including lipsticks, eyeliners and makeup, among others.
“All my businesses are focussed on providing solutions to women. In fact, when I was starting out I was targeting black women until I realised that every woman of every race has the same concerns,” says Bhebhe, chuckling.
She says the firm also helps women to supplement their income by working as distributors although they help them with marketing and advertising.
“With the income they get they are able to send their kids to school and buy nice cars, all by reselling the brand.”
She says Connie Transform products are sold online across South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
“This is the company that I’m most proud of because it doesn’t only serve me but all the women out there.”
Bhebhe says her products are ideal for all women. “You don’t have to be sexy, slender or curvy to look good in our products. Our products transform women to look good and feel confident.”
Asked about the UK trip, the entrepreneur says it was aimed at creating market access for her products into the European country.
“There are millions of Africans who live in the UK. I want to penetrate that sector before expanding my footprint across East Africa and the French-speaking African countries,” says Bhebhe, who speaks French fluently.
“The goal of the UK trip is to meet with influencers and PR practitioners so that they can spread the world about there. I’m meeting people who are very knowledgeable about the industry.”
She says a lot of people were very happy when she established Connie Transform two years ago. “This was because there were no products that were catering to the women of colour. The company sort of grows on its own.”
Bhebhe says the fact that her company’s products are available online means they are able to control product quality.
“Our products are also on Takealot and people can shop via EFT, ewallet, etcetera. Our customers trust us that we have their best interests at heart because we run a top quality service for them.”
Asked about her growth strategy, Bhebhe says: “I want each one of my brands to be a leader in their spaces throughout Africa.”
She states matter of factly that she is not interested in penetrating the western countries.
“We want to be market owners and dominants in the health and cosmetics industries in Africa.”
Bhebhe encourages women to think outside the box. “We don’t need more women selling hair and handbags. Women must focus on niching and not trying to do what the next woman is doing.”
- BUSINESS REPORT