Creating business opportunities is something that Karabo Rametse has always had a knack for. But realising that everyone needs toilet paper, the entrepreneur stuck to her new niche and found overwhelming success almost overnight. Rametse, who is the founder of Ekasi Supersoft Tissue, has been providing shops in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Giyani since 2019.
“I used to operate four different shops in Soweto where I was selling kotas and chips,” she said. “I saw tissue as an essential need, something that is used by everyone every day and something that does not expire.” Rametse bought a winding machine, which she used to produce tissue paper with her team of five permanent employees and six temporary staffers.
Her business is based in Protea Glen in Soweto. She also supplies a Spar in Kibler Park, south of Johannesburg. Rametse told Vutivi News that her raw material was sourced from Germiston in Ekurhuleni. “When we make tissue, we take the raw, white virgin paper that already comes as either one- or two-ply and use the winder to roll and wind the paper into logs,” she explained.
“We then cut the rolled paper with a bandsaw and come up with the standard-issued tissue shape.” Rametse said that when she started out, one of her first lessons was realising how easily tissue paper could get damaged and that it required constant care.
“I found myself sitting with a lot of wasted toilet rolls, but instead of throwing them away, I would sell them at cheaper prices, and I found that people still bought them,” she said. She said the recent civil unrest in Gauteng had not impacted her business negatively.
“Many of the businesses that I supplied were looted and businesses were affected,” Rametse said. “Yet it was the very unrest that almost destabilised my business that restored it because people still needed tissue and I was able to provide it. “Customers came in large numbers and thanks to that, we were able to bounce back,” she said.
Rametse told Vutivi News that two of her achievements included moving her production line to an industrial site in Johannesburg where the tissue paper was manufactured in large quantities and purchasing a small car that she used to deliver her products.
“I feel very proud of myself because there were times when I felt like quitting. I had to remind myself that business is not just about throwing in the towel when hard times come, but to go through them with a spirit of never giving up,” she said. And for now, she plans on sticking with the tissue paper business.
“What I love about tissue is that it can be on the shelves for quite a long time and still not expire, thus meaning that I do not have to throw away stock on the basis of it having gone off.”