Not afraid to get their hands dirty, a co-operative run successfully by 18 women has made their presence felt in the competitive manufacturing industry.
Mgijimu Chemicals and Toilet Paper Manufacturing Co-operative in KwaMbotho, South of Durban, manufactures and supplies an array of cleaning products to schools in Harding and surrounding areas.
The marketing manager, Ncane Noshwana, was complimentary of each of the 18 women involved in the business who contributed towards its swift operation.
The Co-operative scooped second position with a cash prize of R20 000 in the Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business Awards which recognises and rewards exceptional businesswomen on a public platform.
Imbokodo Iyazenzela or “Women doing it for themselves” is a flagship programme of Ithala Development Finance Corporation which aims to create an enabling environment for female entrepreneurs who require access to finance and the resources to grow.
Noshwana was born and bred in Harding and has four children, three of which are still in school while the other is currently pursuing a degree in Marketing at the University of South Africa.
Prior to joining the co-operative, Noshwana earned her living as a seamstress in Pietermaritzburg. Her small business supplied school uniforms to local schools in the city.
“Networking and marketing have always been my strengths and I knew I had to capitalise on it to grow my business,” said Noshwana.
“Fortunately, when Ithala contacted me to present my business proposal, I had been working on one for quite some time and I saw this as an opportunity to fine tune it. I was later informed that I was selected as a finalist.”
The KZN provincial development agency has shown serious commitment in the empowerment and development of SMMEs and co-operatives in line with their mandate to promote development in the province.
Driving SMME and cooperative development over the next five years is one of the key strategic goals of Ithala. Over the past three years, the provincial development agency has disbursed R878 600 000 to nearly 700 businesses, resulting in over 8 000 jobs being created. Of these, 28% are women-owned businesses and young people comprise nearly 40% of those on Ithala’s loan book.
Noshwana describes herself as a person who thrives under pressure. “I love networking, running a business and being able to meet people from different walks of life through workshops – it’s something I always look forward to,” she said.
In addition to cleaning detergents plans are in the pipeline to expand the business to include lotions, perfumes and tissues. Such is the determination and ambition of the ladies that no one has expressed a desire to retire anytime soon.
When asked if she thinks there is enough support for young and aspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa, Noshwana immediately replied: “Yes definitely, since receiving this endorsement from Ithala for our growing business, we have been approached by numerous young people in our community for advice on the appropriate steps to follow when starting a businesses and we are ever willing to help.”
Ithala’s Business Finance portfolio caters for small and medium industrial and commercial businesses as well as agricultural enterprises, tourism ventures, co-operatives and building contractors.