MBA Stories part 23 - Chiharu Oyama

 Chiharu Oyama is an international female entrepreneur who acquired an MBA at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands. She successfully founded the natural skincare brand, Jujubody in Japan, inspired by natural African ingredients. However, her journey has been full of ups and downs.

Originally a financial consultant, Chiharu saw business opportunities in emerging markets and conducted the market research for her thesis in Ghana. She was impressed with her African MBA colleague’s ambition to return to the country and make a positive impact on their society. Eventually, she co-founded a company together with her Ghanaian colleague, focused on business consulting and e-commerce in Ghana.

Whilst working on their venture in Ghana, Chiharu was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to move back to Japan for treatment. There, she noticed a huge dependency on chemical medication, the same chemicals that are considered to be major causes of certain cancers today.

She decided to launch Jujubody, to pass on the wonderful gifts of ‘magic’ from Africa that she had discovered in beauty care products and medical treatments, during her time in Ghana. Using 100% unrefined Moringa oil and Shea butter for skincare products is quite unique in the Japanese consumer market.

She says, ‘Africa has long been a source of raw materials, but its name, Africa, has never been valued as a brand. I believe that simple and truly natural skincare products made in Ghana should be branded and valued properly. Through my brand Jujubody, I also wanted to correct the common misconception that Africa was a poor continent. Africa is a richly blessed continent with abundant natural resources, as I discovered in Ghana.

My MBA literally led me to places I have never dreamed I would see. It definitely made my world broader, richer and more sophisticated. Without my MBA, I may have never thought about going to Africa, not to mention setting up my own business there.

The course gave me numerous opportunities to meet with other entrepreneurs and business leaders, who constantly inspired me. The entrepreneurship class taught me to structure my ideas into comprehensive and compelling business plans.

The intensive group work sessions were also instrumental in the formation of a winning partnership my Ghanaian colleague. Through countless arguments while working on various assignments, we discovered and comprehended each other’s thought processes, strengths and weakness. Over time, we realised how our differences perfectly complemented each other in business.

‘Not only did the Nyenrode MBA bring me wonderful encounters, it also gave me the aspiration to make a difference to society’.