Mwiihangele comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.
But her journey into entrepreneurship wasn’t that easy. She says she suffered from shyness.
“I used to have a speech problem of stuttering. Kids and cousins used to tease me all the time and pretty much all the way to high school,” she says.
Tired of being the laughing stock, she taught herself how to stop stuttering.
It paid off. In 2000, by the age of 11, she won the gold medal at the Namibian Expo of Young Scientists competition for developing a high-performance matte lipstick. she later won bronze in South Africa against the whole continent.
“That’s how my passion for cosmetic science was birthed. I don’t think I would’ve discovered my passion if I had not entered that competition,” says Mwiihangele.
During her final year at university, studying analytical chemistry at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, she had to complete a 12-month in-service training at an analytical lab. She chose to be strategically different and complete her training at a cosmetic manufacturing company.
Although her salary was small, she managed to save and return home to Namibia to set up a cosmetic manufacturing company.
With R20,000 ($1,500) in hand she founded Kiyomisandz, a cosmetic and toiletry manufacturing company based in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. The company manufactures its own products and offers contract manufacturing services to people who want to make their own.
The company won the 2015 National Commission on Research, Science & Technology innovation grant and the 2016 Development Bank of Namibia innovation award.
“The ability to create something valuable, new and different out of simple ingredients or natural resources inspires me to continuously experiment and develop new products.”