Dr Shuting Hu is becoming a household name after she discovered a skincare and cosmetic formula by using some of the African plants in Senegal.
Shuting is the founder and current chief executive officer of Acaderma, a cosmeceutical line developed in early 2020. Although it was founded primarily to deliver quality skincare to women, Shuting ensure the business is also sustainable by following clean production technologies that complies with environmental requirements. More importantly, Acaderma provides a strong platform to support women in business.
She believes that her products should go beyond bettering skin and also provide economic opportunities to local women. In 2018 Shuting received an award by The International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists, which is incubated by the Sephora Accelerate programme for being the youngest cosmetic scientist.
Shuting is working with an NGO in the Sub-Saharan Africa to source their products and provide employment opportunities particularly for women. “Acaderma is more like the skincare academy—a place where skin knowledge is skin power. Our award-winning ingredients and new generation of formulas benefit both your skin and mind. We blazed a new trail, to a place where skin biology, plant chemistry, and ethical transparency meet.
What really makes us different is our Clean I.Q.: CLEAN INTELLIGENCE QUALITY. It’s our formula for better skin and better world. The Clean IQ goes beyond just a clean formulation; we act with clean behaviour from start to finish,” said Shuting.
She said in addition, they make sure they “innovate with high quality, clean ingredients, sourced with a clean conscience and processed by green technology”.
Shuting said she is working with a local a Senegal-based NGO called Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP).
Shuting said the main objective of the partnership is to develop “successful African agribusinesses in the agriculture sector, providing income, employment and development”. She this would be achieved through environmentally and socially conscious practices to produce high quality products for local, regional and overseas markets.
Shuting added that the intention is to “expand economic opportunities for rural communities by using world class science, technologies, partnerships and business approaches to develop and enhance Africa’s competitive advantage in the Natural Plant Products industry”.
Currently ASNAPP has teamed up with 25 agri-enterprises, representing over 2000 small-scale farmers on the continent. “While broadening agribusinesses and stimulating entrepreneurship among small-scale rural farmers remains a goal, ASNAPP’s vision is to move local communities up the value chain and improve their livelihoods,” said Shuting.
She said she has roped in Professor James Simon who has been working together with the ASNAPP. Simon is a renowned global researcher with over 25 years of collaborative research in Sub-Saharan Africa who uses “innovative and transformative approaches to provide individuals and communities with the tools to achieve economic independence”.
Said Shuting: “As a research scientist, I participated in one research project, discovered this amazing plant kinkeliba in Senegal, and found its great soothing and hydration benefits to the skin. But when the project concluded, I started wondering, in addition to research papers, are we really making a positive impact on local communities?”
She said the other key objective of the initiative is benefit local women involved in the project. ASNAPP-Senegal organises women in a small village near Dakar to harvest, source and process in a clean method and do quality control, said Shuting.
“The program is not just limited to kinkeliba harvest, ASNAPP-Senegal team also provides more farming skills and education opportunities to them, and we are trying to help them sell more products (e.g. organic hibiscus),” she said. In addition, she said they are also trying to develop more products using ingredients developed by them and use their technologies to help the NGO to establish a green material platform, and our voice to build awareness.
This article is based on the interview with Dr Shuting Hu by Stephanie Burns of Forbes Women