Talkative, cheerful and seemingly younger than his 64 years, Fred Andersson insists that he likes to see people make an effort to improve their beauty.
Although he has spent his productive years working in seven countries and heading various organisations, Mr Andersson decided that the best way to spend his retirement was in the cosmetics industry.
He is the unrelenting chief executive officer of Oriflame East Africa, a beauty and cosmetics brand in the region.
He once worked for Volvo Cars in Sweden, where he comes from, and has been a board member of over 40 companies with international reach.
A trip to Kenya on holiday in 2000 so impressed the father of four that eight years later, he packed his belongings and landed here to start the cosmetics one-stop shop.
“Mr Robert Jochnick (founder of Oriflame) is a close friend. When I came to Kenya and built a hotel in South Coast, we agreed to create more jobs in East Africa, so I set up Oriflame’s regional office in Nairobi,” he says.
Today, the company has spread its tentacles with three branches in Kenya, one in Uganda and plans to open one in Tanzania and Rwanda this year.
It has over 70 employees and has trained several consultants to help move their products.
Last week, the company launched the country’s first beauty hotline (4408), a help line that will give free beauty consultancy to clients. We sought to know more about this man who is in love with beauty.
So who is this man, Fred Andersson?
A happy person; good at playing host to my friends and business colleagues. I have the energy to be up and about and I like helping people fulfil their dreams. But I get upset when people do not keep promises.
When and how did you come to Kenya?
I came on holiday in 2000 and fell in love with the country. I decided to build Kinondo Kwetu Resort in South Coast and stay here. In 2008, I set up Oriflame East Africa in Kenya after speaking to the founder, Robert Jochnick.
Why the cosmetics industry?
People love beauty and to look good. I also love to see people unleash the beauty beneath their skin. And it is an industry with a bright future in Africa.
How is doing business in Kenya and lessons you have learnt?
Kenya has unique characteristics compared to other parts of the world. Some of these are tribalism. The other is the gap between the rich and the poor, which is very wide. However, it is one of the best countries to do business in Africa.
How do you move your products?
We sell through independent consultants who choose to either be part time or full time consultants without investing anything. We train them.
What is Kenyans’ greatest challenge in the field of beauty and cosmetics?
Many Kenyans lack knowledge on what is good for them. For example, they do not know their skin types which is important when choosing products to use. We do tests and offer consultations for free.
Which age group in Kenya is so more concerned about their beauty?
Everybody cares about their looks. However, people between 25 to 45 tend to be more particular about their image.
Do you consider yourself a saver or a spender?
What is the most you’ve ever spent on a single day that was not business or investment-related?
Too much I feel ashamed to state it. But I have no regrets.
What is your opinion of credit cards and ATMs?
They are useful as people are able to access their money when they want. But one must be careful to control their expenditure.
What is you ideal way to invest?
I am for businesses where I can be actively engaged and influence the success. One cannot go wrong on real estate as well as the value rises up from day one.
Apart from the cosmetics business, what else do you do?
I am also in the hospitality industry and I run Kinondo-Kwetu Resort in South coast rated by Tatlers as among the 101 best hotels in the world. I am planning to open another hotel in Kenya.
Are you involved in any charity?
Oh yes. How can I not be? I founded Kinondo Kwetu Trust Fund in Msambweni. I also helped build Kinondo clinic that serves about 15,000 patients annually for the community between Ukunda and Msambweni. The trust also sponsors bright but poor local pupils from primary to university.
Why is charity important to you?
It gives a lot of satisfaction to see a young talented and ambitious child who takes the chance I have given them and become successful independent people.
What is your parting shot to young entrepreneurs?
Set your goals right. Look at all the possibilities and try to analyse the potentials and obstacles. You will always face ups and downs but never give up.