I am the first to admit that there are times where shopping compulsively is the only way I know how to shop. Mindlessly scrolling countless of online shopping sites, only to see my cart total reach the triple digits, and asking myself how I got there in the first place. But after looking into being more aware of the items I buy, I wanted to to make sure some of the products I use could perhaps make a direct change to the world.

While Abir Ibrahim was serving in the US Peace Corps working on her graduate thesis on malnutrition in the region of Tanga, Tanzania, she saw the local crops and thought about how they were being used. She believed that idea of utilizing the very crops growing in Tanga residents' backyards could be a source of income, especially for women. From there, Inua Naturals was born.


Some of the organic and locally available ingredients, such as moringa, baobab, turmeric and lemongrass, where used to create handcrafted soaps, facial oils, masks and body crèmes.

Inua, a Swahili word for "uplift", is creating a platform for small farmers and artisans in East Africa to access an entire world of consumers, expanding entrepreneurial prospects.

Many women with Inua Naturals are able to invest back in their communities through education, health and WASH projects. Most of the women are directly changing the issue of malnutrition and poverty in their communities.

The women of Tanga are taking charge of their lives, their families and community. Many are offered the tools and skills to become business starters and community leaders. Part of understanding the importance of conscious shopping and product consumption is that it directly affects these women and the way they live. This means that we should work to see an immediate connection to the person who filled the jar of body butter with their hands. When you know the story, you see the change.

So with knowing all of those things, how can you be a conscious shopper? Shop locally. Support small, black businesses and get involved in knowing the stories behind the products you pick up.

Inua has expanded from Tanzania, to across Africa and the United States, establishing the US headquarters of Inua Naturals in Washington, DC.

If you want to check out more of Inua Naturals' story and the work that they are doing in East Africa, go to inuanaturals.com.