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The Man In The Beauty Business

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In 2004, after selling his company Super Mart to the Edcon group, Ian Fuhr decided to venture into unknown territory – the beauty industry. This would eventually lead to the creation of professional beauty therapy salon Sorbet.

“I used to go to this beauty therapist every couple of weeks for a massage and she said to me, ‘why don’t you look at opening some beauty salons?’ At first, I just laughed at her – I don’t exactly have the look and feel for the beauty industry,” says Fuhr.

He adds that while there were several independently-owned stores in operation, there were no branded salon chains.

“I started looking into it and realized that there was an opportunity there. As an entrepreneur, I don’t particularly look for industries, I look for a business, and if it happens to be in the beauty industry, then it is fine.”

Sorbet, which offers beauty therapy for both men and women, as well as hair and nail treatments, currently has 117 stores and, according to Fuhr, is set to see another 20 to 30 stores come online this year .

“People ask us, ‘how did Sorbet manage to grow so quickly?’ I don’t think we took our business from other competitors, I think the strength of the brand managed to enlarge the size of the market.

“It has made it accessible and more affordable, and that is perhaps one of the big reasons for our growth.”

When he started, one of the biggest challenges was staffing. “It’s hard enough to get staff motivated and productive in a single salon but to try and get a thousand people all at the same level of service quality and motivation – that’s the challenge.”

Sorbet is now taking its business to foreign shores, with Fuhr citing the United Kingdom (UK) as its next possible destination.

“The UK doesn’t seem like a natural place to go. Most people were saying, ‘why are you going to the UK? It’s so difficult there’. We were recommended to go by our biggest supplier Dermalogica,” he says.

“We’ve had a look there and there’s definitely an opportunity.”

However, Fuhr also hopes to have Sorbet’s first couple of stores in various African markets by the end of the year.

He cites Angola, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana as the immediate markets of interest, with Tanzania and Nigeria being future possibilities.

Fuhr also stated that while the growth of the brand is undeniable, the focus remains on furthering the company’s current ventures such as Sorbet Man and the Dry Bar Salon, as well as its expansion into new markets.

“The beauty industry will always be there, because women, in particular, will always want to look after themselves, to varying degrees. If they can’t afford some of the more luxurious pampering-type products, they’ll cut back but they won’t stop doing their nails or looking after their skin.”

Entrepreneurs

The Foodies With A Drive For Business

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Two taxi commuters who went on to become friends and tenacious business partners selling gourmet cuisine out of a food truck.

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Billionaires

Abducted Tanzanian Billionaire Mo Dewji Returns Home

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Tanzanian billionaire entrepreneur Mohammed Dewji, who was abducted by unidentified kidnappers on October 11 in Dar es Salaam, has been released and has returned home safe.

 

In a statement released by MeTL group at 3.15AM today, the prominent businessman says: “I thank Allah that I have returned home safely, I thank all my fellow Tanzanians and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”

The Tanzanian police have also released a video in which Dewji, dressed in a t-shirt and who looks visibly shaken and worn out, thanks his supporters.

Said a source who works closely with Dewji to FORBES AFRICA: “He was released in the middle of Dar es Salaam around 3AM today, unharmed, after which he ran to the nearest security guards who dropped him off home. He does not know who his abductors were. He was only taken about 20 minutes away from the city center, so he has been in Dar es Salaam since the abduction. He has no visible bodily harm with the exception of marks from the handcuffs.”
She also revealed that the abductors wanted ransom but let him go on account of the media hype around the kidnapping.

Dewji was on his way to a gym session at a luxury hotel in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, in the early hours of October 11, when he was kidnapped by the masked gunmen.

Dewji’s family had earlier offered 1 billion Tanzanian Shillings ($436,674) to anyone who could help them find him.
Dewji, popularly known as “Mo” in Tanzania, is the CEO of MeTL active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. He is also the main sponsor of football club Simba.
Dewji was featured on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in July 2013 and was named FORBES AFRICA’s Person of The Year in 2016. The 43-year-old single-handedly turned his father’s trading business into Tanzania’s largest import-export group.

Dewji’s personal networth is $1.5 billion, according to the Africa billionaires list released by FORBES earlier this year. He is also Africa’s youngest billionaire.

Dewji’s office has said it will release a personal address by Dewji “once he is settled”.

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Entrepreneurs

No Wasted Opportunities For Swazi Entrepreneur

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In the mountainous kingdom of eSwatini, a former pre-school helper is turning trash to treasure.

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