In the lead up to the Annual SWAA Forum in Mauritius 19th-21st September 2016 at Shanti Maurice a Nira Resort, and first SWAA Network West Africa 2016 on the 4th of October at The Wheatbaker in Lagos, Nigeria SWAA’s founder Mrs Elaine Okeke-Martin, Board of Director for SWAA Pamela Olatunji and the SWAA Executive Committee Chair – Nigeria Ameera Abraham had the honour of meeting with Mrs Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Nigeria at the launch of her new book “Essentials of Beauty Therapy” in Abuja recently and discussed her new book and as well as the SWAA Network event in October in Lagos.
How did the meeting with the First Lady first come about?
EOM: The meeting with the First Lady was arranged by our Nigerian Executive Committee Chair Ameera Abraham. Ameera called me up the day before I was to travel from London to Lagos and asked if I could fly to Abuja because an invitation had just come through for me from The First Lady to attend her book launch. So before I knew it, I arrived in Abuja and was heading to the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Can you tell us a bit about your role Ameera?
AA: I am responsible for representing the interests and enforcing the mandate of SWAA here in Nigeria. My focus is setting up the foundations for spa and individual accreditations; education of our growing population of therapists; building a support network through memberships; and ensuring our spa and wellness industry is operating at a global standard.
With the release of her book “Essentials of Beauty Therapy” how do you see this influencing Nigeria’s beauty and spa industry?
EOM: In Nigeria, one of the world’s ten fastest growing economies, UK based market research firm Euromonitor International valued sales in the beauty and personal care sector at $595.8m in 2011, up from $439.8m in 2006. It predicts that by 2016 Nigeria’s young yet increasingly sophisticated population will drive industry sales to $620.2m. With this growth it will be extremely important to educate beauticians and therapists in Nigeria. ‘Essentials of Beauty Therapy’ will support the education of many beauticians and therapists in Nigeria. Mrs Buhari who has a post-graduate diploma in cosmetology and beauty therapy from the Carlton Institute of London and the Academy Esthetigue Beauty Institute of France, is a beauty therapist and entrepreneur. Mrs Buhari said the book is a result of extensive years of research into the subject of beauty and wellness. Mrs Buhari also dedicated the proceeds from the sale of the books to be used to empower the mothers of the Chibok girls.
AA: This is a monumental achievement simply because it has been a long neglected industry, until now it was not considered “professional”. The launch of the book has put the beauty industry on the map, it’s filled a void in education relevant to our people and best spa practices for Nigeria. It has opened doors to formal education and training within Nigeria. Most importantly it has highlighted the importance of being fully trained and qualified to succeed as a beauty therapist.
Do you see Mrs. Buhari and her new book having an influence on the industry? If so how?
EOM: It will not only influence the industry but provide a foundation and guideline to the level of therapists Nigeria is going to be educating in the near future. And given her enormous background in beauty, Mrs. Buhari’s step to launching the book is only the beginning of what’s to come and I think we will hear more of her plans at the Annual SWAA Forum in Mauritius 19th-21st September 2016, where she will be speaking on the topic ‘Empowerment of Women in the Spa & Wellness Industry in Africa’.
AA: It will serve as a resource for best spa practice in Nigeria. It’s relevant to our people and market and will allow for a quicker understanding and adaptation by our therapists when learning. It is supported by the Ministry of Education and forms parts of the curriculum in vocational training.
What are the future plans for SWAA and working with Mrs. Buhari? Are there plans for collaboration and contribution?
EOM: Some of SWAA future plans are:
- Formulation of standards and practices
- Education Hub UNBUNTU
- Specialized SWAA Courses at SWAA’s Training Center Casablanca North Africa.
- Supporting Spas, Wellness centers’, beauty Academy’s /schools in Africa with accreditation.
- Regular Spa Network events in all regions for spa industry professionals
- Establishing lines of communication between the spa and wellness industry – (Hotel Associations), Ministries of Tourism and Global Spa & Wellness Industry.
- Encorage Memberships
We are very happy to have Mrs. Buhari involved in the industry in such a passionate and professional way. And we do have plans to collaborate and contribute in all aspects of the industry in Nigeria.
AA: In regards to the future of SWAA, it provides us with the global accreditation that our industry needs. We are assured of quality and professionalism within the spa and wellness industry. The standardisation arm of SWAA will ensure it is no longer business as usual. Our Nigerian Spa Owners and Therapists will be fully informed on global best practice and ultimately this can only lead to greater success for the industry.
Finally, what can we look forward to at the first SWAA Network West Africa 2016 on the 4th of October at The Wheatbaker in Lagos, Nigeria?
AA: I am very excited about our first network event in Lagos. We have an amazing line up of speakers and will be addressing topics and issues critical to the development of the spa and wellness industry in Nigeria. We will also have educational workshops and opportunities for membership registration and accreditation assistance.
EOM: The upcoming SWAA Network West Africa in Lagos on the 4th of October is very special to me given that I’m Nigerian too but mainly because that is where SWAA was first launched in October 2010.
I hope to deliver the message across to West Africa about what SWAA’s mission and vision is and that is;
- To identify the criteria of the spa and wellness industry in Africa while working closely with governments of tourism, health and education sectors, and promote wellness cultural based healing traditional therapies and popularize evidence based scientific research of wellness approaches, while channeling the voice of the continent.
- To support development, education and productivity in the spa and wellness sector for future generations’ in Africa.
I really look forward to realising these goals to our SWAA members and non-members.