It has been disappointment after disappointment for businessman Phiello Tsotetsi, but with each defeat has come a valuable lesson. And thanks to this, Tsotetsi’s Batlokwa Detergents can now be found in southern Africa. Tsotetsi started his business in 2019 and the company was officially registered in 2020. Before he started the business, Tsotetsi, who is from Frankfort in the Free State but is based in Heidelberg, sold water filters.
An encounter with an acquaintance directed him to a new business venture. “She introduced me to selling detergents, and I started selling detergents manufactured by other companies,” he said. “Seeing my passion for this sector, she recommended that I attend detergent manufacturing courses in KwaZulu-Natal. “It was not easy because I had a job and I had to travel regularly to KZN, but I managed because my passion for manufacturing drove me.”
Tsotetsi said that the first product he manufactured was a dishwashing liquid and then he branched out to more products. These included pine gel, all-purpose cleaner, shampoo, thick bleach, greasers, body lotions and others. However, when he approached wholesalers and retailers to list his products, he was turned away. “I was told that my product needed a barcode and I had to find out how to get a product barcoded,” he said. The businessman conducted the necessary research, got his products barcoded and then went back to the retailers.
They turned him away again, explaining to him that products needed to be tested. “I didn’t even know where or how to have my product tested, because when they give you feedback, they don’t exactly tell you where to go and how to do it,” he told Vutivi News. “It was during these days that I learned how important conducting research for an entrepreneur is because I had to go back again and find out how and where to test my products.”
Tsotetsi took his products to be tested at a laboratory at the University of Lesotho, which gave them the thumbs up and he received a certificate. These efforts began paying off and soon after, he started supplying his products to various stores in South Africa and southern African countries. “My products are on the shelves of TFS Wholesaler, Sefalane Wholesaler, and Central Supermarket, both of which are based in Frankfort,” he said.