When Mantshadi Mokoena (33) struggled to find haircare products suitable for her hair, she started making her own.
In 2014 she launched the Nalane Group, with her younger sister Karabo, to produce natural haircare products under the Nalane ea Africa brand.
“The haircare range is infused with a unique blend of indigenous African oils that nourish and strengthen natural coils. All five products are essential for moisturising ethnic hair and making it manageable,” Mokoena said.
“We started testing the market in 2013 when we handed out samples to family and friends who wanted to know what my secret was for keeping my hair healthy,” she added.
Her dream of running a haircare company become a reality when Nalane ea Afrika won R250 000 in the Tabalaza Youth Development programme, which is hosted by the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.
The Mokoena sisters are based in Gauteng, due to other employment and studies, but the bulk of their clients are in the Free State where they have employed four distributors. The sisters look after the company’s Gauteng clients and sales have increased over the past five years.
Nalane Group also sells its products via an online store to ensure that South Africans and clients abroad have access to them.
“There is a big need for African products for Africans around the world. The challenge is always how to get the products to them. We recently listed our products in an online store for the United States and Canadian markets. Previously, we had to rely on family or friends travelling abroad to carry the products for us, so this has made it a lot easier,” she said.
Mokoena has encouraged budding entrepreneurs to not give up on their dreams, regardless of the challenges they face.
“The process to get assistance can take time, but our government is here to help us. We need to do our bit and come up with products and services that are bankable, instead of focusing on what is quick and easy,” said Mokoena.