CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s rising unemployment rate calls for entrepreneurship as one of the many measures to assist in creating more job opportunities, which could also help in fighting crime and poverty in the country.
Four women entrepreneurs from Gauteng and Cape Town responded to the call by following their passions and taking advantage of the retail market while creating jobs and inspiring other women entrepreneurs looking to break barriers in the market.
Ntombenhle Khathwane, from Gauteng and owner of AfroBotanics started the business to empower African women to embrace their natural beauty. She said she believed if a woman felt beautiful, she saw beauty and would treat others beautifully and contribute to building beautiful communities.
Khathwane said, for years she would soften and straighten her hair using harsh chemicals as it was too dry, brittle, tangled, coarse and hard to manage and style naturally. But Ntombenhle learnt from an unlikely source that she could have soft, manageable hair without applying damaging chemicals.
“My grandmother shared the different methods they used when she was growing up in the 1930s in Swaziland. This inspired me to try these age old methods used by Nguni women on my hair and this eventually led to the birth of AfroBotanics in 2010,” she said.
With her natural haircare and health products, she said she wanted to inspire confidence and give women an alternative to chemically treating their hair. She is also on a broader mission to empower women to feel beautiful and powerful in all aspects of their lives with her natural hair, body and baby products.
After a humble beginning, AfroBotanics was one of Pick n Pay’s Boost Your Biz competition winners in 2016 with six employees at the time. Today, the business has 17 employees supplying hundreds of Pick n Pay Stores with AfroBotanics Girl Boss natural hair care products, as well as other retailers.
Beryl Shuttleworth, also from Gauteng and owner of The Herbal Horse + Pet, said she was working in the pharmaceutical industry when she saw a gap in the market for innovative natural remedies for animals. As a passionate animal person, animals were her first priority.
“Once I started doing research into what was available, I was shocked at how few companies were actually using the extensive natural product research that was available. Companies seemed to prefer to produce a version of whatever was in fashion, rather than make products that actually worked,” she said.
This led her to establishing her company in 2010, The Herbal Horse + Pet, and today she offers an innovative range of natural supplements for horses and pets consisting of carefully researched blends of herbs, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Her products are stocked locally in Pick n Pay, and are exported to seven countries.
Debbie Ncube from Cape Town and founder of Eden All Natural - Natural and affordable peanut butter. Ncube said she founded Eden All Natural with the goal of making natural, healthy peanut butter available and affordable to all South Africans.
“As uncompromising peanut butter lovers, at some point our commitment to take care of our health threatened our peanut buttered happy lives.
"As such, we had to embark on a journey to find an all-natural peanut butter because emulsifiers, preservatives and stabilizers were not going to do any justice to our newly preferred lifestyle – consuming nutritious foods,” she said.
Debbie found a few manufacturers of natural peanut butter, but the pricing was too expensive so she decided to produce her own. She initially started making it on her balcony with her son.
Family and friends who visited, tasted her peanut butter and that inspired her to start selling the excess. The sales quickly moved from 5kg to 10kg then to 60kg.
Given the demand, she officially registered her business in 2011 and opened her factory. But, to this day, her son remains her quality controller. “My son is my number one employee,” Debbie said.
Eden All Natural now produces a range of 100 percent homemade peanut butter with no added salt, sugar or preservatives and has supplied its quality products to Pick n Pay since 2015.
The business currently employs eight permanent staff members along with seasonal workers and she plans on expanding her company’s reach to Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
She said her goal is to grow the company into South Africa’s largest natural peanut butter producer.
Samantha Skyring, also from Cape Town and founder of Oryx Desert Salt, harvests 100% pure salt from the Kalahari Desert.
Samantha brings diverse experience from her entrepreneurial career from Aircraft Interior Refurbishment to discovering Mumbo Island on Lake Malawi whilst on a kayaking expedition and starting Kayak Africa. It was also during one of her extensive travel and adventures that the Oryx brand was born.
When Samantha decided to walk 120km over seven days through the Namib Desert to the Skeleton Coast in July 2000, she had no idea this experience would profoundly influence the creation of her business, Oryx Desert Salt, she said.
During this walk she had several powerful and remarkable face-to-face encounters with Oryx Gazella (gemsbok).
Researching the Oryx, Sam discover they can survive for up to two years without water, but cannot survive more than two months without licking salt for the sodium chloride, minerals and trace elements vital for survival in the harsh conditions of the Kalahari Desert.
And so the Oryx, with its striking colouring and majestic presence, became the symbolic icon for Oryx Desert Salt.
Since starting Oryx Desert Salt, Samantha has grown the business extensively. Her Desert Salt adventure started by packing bags on her dining room table and today Oryx Desert Salt is co-owned by its employees, offering a safe space for the community to discover and follow their dreams.
Samantha maintains that being local and sustainable will always be at the heart of the company.