Phathutshedzo Netshimboni believes that one of the main reasons couples do not often enjoy using condoms, is because they rarely discuss which brands they prefer. So, the 25-year-old who was born and bred in Alexandra in Johannesburg decided it was time to start his own condom business that was not only aimed at pleasuring couples, but would also eventually supply the government with his products.
The launch of his Raw Pleasure range took place in Alexandra on World Aids Day on Tuesday. He told Vutivi News that he originally studied civil engineering. But his love for entrepreneurship compelled him to drop out of the engineering and explore the business world. His range of condoms is his first attempt at making money from his own business, and he has big dreams for it.
Netshimboni said he decided to start his venture after conducting a survey in Gauteng townships including Alexandra, Thembisa, Rabie Ridge, Soweto and Atteridgeville. Its purpose was to find out what people wanted.
“The women also told us that they had a lot of challenges from using government condoms. For instance, the government condom smells really bad, it disturbs their pH levels, it’s too thick, it’s not well lubricated and sometimes it’s oil-based whereas they prefer water-based condoms,” he said. Also, Netshimboni believed that his range would also help stop the spread of HIV/Aids.
“The stats of HIV infection in the country are very high, so we decided that to combat the spread of HIV we would ask women what it is that they wanted in a condom so that they can prefer practicing safe sex. They (said) factors like lubrication and thickness are important in deciding which condoms they want their male partners to use,” he said.
Netshimboni’s decision to enter the market was also because of data from Stats SA revealed that women aged between 15 and 34 were being infected with HIV at a much larger rate than men in the same age group. His range of condoms come in various flavours and are even packaged differently according to the results of the survey.
“In all of the flavours we have reduced the perfumes that we used which women did not want,” Netshimboni said.
“I chose to design a male condom because I saw that female condoms are not doing well in the market so we are still in the process of designing a female condom that women can enjoy using.” But he told Vutivi News that it was not an easy journey. Some of the challenges while designing the condoms included specifications that would match what women wanted in his study.
“… I am in the process of getting funding so that I can have a factory where we can manufacture our own condoms in South Africa rather than to buy them from other countries.” It was also difficult to obtain funding from private institutions and from the government. He worked with local condom manufacturer Quantumed, which assisted him with manufacturing his brand.
Netshimboni said his dream now was to supply the state with condoms at a very low cost. “Condoms that are being supplied to the government are very expensive and the research is not being conducted on the very people who will be using these condoms,” he said. “I want to supply them with a condom that is competitive enough to be in the market so that they can, in turn, make these condoms available for people who cannot afford quality condoms.”
But this is not where this Alex man’s ambitions end.
“In the next five years I also see myself supplying condoms for the whole of Africa and having our own warehouse where I can also contribute to the fight against unemployment,” he said.
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