By: Anna Majavu
Two young detergent entrepreneurs have been heartened by the support they have received from the public for their new dishwashing and fabric softener brands. Selling their products via social media, at events and through word of mouth has helped Anathi Mncotshe Mduzana and Tebello Jeanette Khanya to overcome the problems of not having factories, employees or retail stores to sell their products in.
Mduzana, 25, was retrenched from his job in Cape Town in 2019 and had to sell perfume to make ends meet. His employer at the perfume job also owned a detergent-making company. He soon promoted Mduzana to marketing strategist and it was at this point that Mduzana decided to take his newfound knowledge of detergents and go it alone. With a degree in sports management but with no capital, Mduzana moved back in with his parents in East London. But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, he relocated back to his rural hometown, Cala, about two hours drive from Mthatha, so that his parents could isolate him.
“I wanted to start a brand that would assist my vision to do something for my community. Looking at the state of my hometown, Cala, I felt we needed something that would be of our origin and manufactured here,” said Mduzana. But the price of shipping bottles and chemicals to a remote rural area across potholed roads proved too costly, and Mduzana headed back to East London where he now mixes the dishwashing liquid himself on his parent’s dining room table.
He currently sells a 750ml bottle of A Clean for R23.99 via social media and word of mouth, posting via Pep and PostNet to customers all over the country and delivering in East London. https://www.facebook.com/anathinartie.mduzana. He buys the chemicals in East London and ships the bottles from Cape Town, which increases the costs. Mduzana applied to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) for funds but never heard back from them.
“I don’t want such things to deter me. Everything has come from my pocket with the help of my dad. I live by the code of ‘use what you have to get what you don’t have’. The most important thing for me is to master my product. There are a lot of sensitive people out there so I needed to ensure the product was chemically neutral and everyone could use it,” he said. So far, Mduzana has had no complaints of any skin reactions. “To other aspiring entrepreneurs, what I learned is that people are always willing to support you. You don’t need to have the answers to everything before you start. Starting your own brand is not going to be a walk in the park, but whatever work you put into it will show,” he said.
Khanya, who comes from Sasolburg and is a single mother, started a laundry business using her mother’s washing machines and detergents but noticed the fabric softener was blocking the machines and drain system. She researched the chemical formulas being used in fabric softeners overseas and joined a Chemin (South African Chemical Technology Incubator) programme.
Chemin checked and confirmed her formulations before she launched Bonolo (soft) Fabric Softener. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100085485965669. Khanya now has four employees, one of whom sells the product. Unlike Mduzana, Khanya has been funded by Seda and is able to sell at malls, exhibitions, community events, and via Seda platforms. “Seda pop-up markets are very good for sales. The last two I attended I sold out and I also made clients that came back to buy Bonolo again,” said Khanya.