By: Tebogo Mokwena
Paul Masilo believes that the Chemical Industries and Education Authority (CHIETA) played a significant role in turning his dream of creating his own mouthwash into a reality. Masilo is one of the beneficiaries of CHIETA’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP), which is in partnership with the University of Johannesburg’s Business School and the not-for-profit chemical incubator Chemin.
Masilo, whose company Freshmo Brands manufactures mouthwash packaged in sachets, told Vutivi News that his journey to create a mouthwash started in 2014 when he had the idea of packaging mouthwash in sachets for mobility and convenience. He approached one of the biggest mouthwash manufacturers and requested to resell their product with his own branding. But the manufacturer agreed on the condition that he would buy R300,000 worth of mouthwash each time he stocked.
Not one to be deterred, Masilo said that he approached the Gauteng Department of Economic Development a few years later and was informed that he would have to come up with his own formula in order to be funded. “I entered a competition for Green Tech which was run by Innovation Hub, and I presented the solar-powered iron I had invented,” he told Vutivi News. “One of the board members asked me if I had any other idea, and when I informed him about the mouthwash he referred me to Professor David Katerere from the Pharmaceutical Science Department at the Tshwane University of Technology.
“He helped me develop the formula and I was assisted with R20,000 funding by a friend to buy the chemicals needed to make a prototype mouthwash,” Masilo told Vutivi News that when he looked for a lab to produce the product, and Chemin came to the rescue. “Without the partnership between CHIETA and Chemin, I would not have gotten this far,” he said.
“I also benefitted from one of the workshops CHIETA hosted, where we learned about business plans and understanding the funding landscape for SMMEs.” CHIETA’s programme ran from 14 February to 16 September, and the first graduation ceremony was hosted on 10 November by UJ’s Business School for entrepreneurs who successfully completed the programme. According to CHIETA CEO Yershen Pillay, the programme stands out from other SMME development programmes in that it provides small businesses with solutions to specific challenges they experience.
“CHIETA has a long-standing and successful partnership with Chemin, and this year’s targeted EDP is taking the partners’ skills development initiatives to a new level,” he said. “The partnership we have with UJ’s Johannesburg Business School Centre for Entrepreneurship, Chemin, and other stakeholders is synergistic and is ensuring that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
“Through the EDP we are merging our respective niche expertise with the development and support of SMMEs through mentorship, business development training and technical quality assurances services, which in turn has the potential to ensure sustainability, scalability and profitability of the candidate SMMES,” he also said.