Msunduzi’s one in a million

It is often said that new products in the market that have a huge chance to make it in terms of sales and consumption are the ones that are born out of a frustration to satisfy or address a dire need by a consumer. A case in point is how Richard Branson felt that he, and others, deserved a better customer experience and customer service than the one they were getting from the dominant players in the aviation market then. Virgin Airlines was then born out of this need and frustration that Branson experienced. Other similar examples include Steve Jobs’ Apple products including the iMac, iPhone and iPad.

When Pietermaritzburg’s Nonhlanhla Mthethwa had a baby daughter, she wanted her toddler to be able to play with a doll that resembles her child as she wanted to instill a sense of pride and self-love as an African child. During a time when Africans are trying to find out more who they are and where they come, it was important for Ms Mthethwa that her daughter does not suffer some kind of identity crisis in a continent that has had its fair share of colonization.

She then started a small business with Luleka Nzimande, a friend of hers who hails from nearby Richmond. The company then started three labels, which includes Baby Thando which houses the African doll.

“She has been created using African features so that girls play with dolls that look like them. It is important to ensure that at an early age we show the little ones that they are beautiful in their skin tone, their afro hair and they matter and someone took time to make doll in their likeness,” she said.

She also said that she is keen to have the dolls manufactured in Msunduzi, which is currently not the case, in order to curb unemployment while transferring skills “especially to the youth of the city”. However, she was quick to add that if this was going to happen, funding and other forms of assistance from the city would be vital.

“We want to put our city on the map, to be recognized as the producers of a beauty South African brand,” she added.

The duo participated in Standard Bank’s campaign that assists South African entrepreneurs turn their side hustles into their main hustles, My Fearless Next where she won R1 million in prize money as part of this gruelling competition. They have been nominated for a number of awards including as finalists in the Gagasi Shero Awards.

Standard Bank’s Senior Marketing Manager Cleo Zwane said they were overwhelmed by this campaign, which exceeded their expectation. “We were blown away by the quality of the applicants and we are truly honoured to be able to bestow this prize on our inaugural winner, Nonhlanhla Mthethwa, to enable her to engage in her business fearlessly,” he concluded.

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