For­mer do­mes­tic worker turns man­u­fac­turer

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Siya Miti

A MTHATHA WOMAN comes clean on what it took to go from do­mes­tic worker to the owner of a brand of clean­ing prod­ucts.

Non­ceba Sobai (30) went from be­ing a do­mes­tic worker to a man­u­fac­turer.

Sobai said she reg­is­tered her busi­ness, Sobag Trad­ing, in 2009 af­ter do­ing some re­search on what it takes to man­u­fac­ture clean­ing prod­ucts.

“I was a maid and the house­hold I worked in used clean­ing prod­ucts I had not seen be­fore. I found out they were man­u­fac­tured in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and got in touch with the fac­tory. Soon I was buy­ing and re­selling some of their prod­ucts.”

She did so well that she re­signed and be­came her own boss. Her new sup­plier, based in East Lon­don – closer to where she lived, sold prod­ucts she con­sid­ered in­fe­rior and at in­flated prices.

So this bold woman vis­ited a nearby in­ter­net café and found out where she could be trained to make her own clean­ing prod­ucts.

Af­ter com­plet­ing train­ing course, she re­alised that the train­ing provider had not been ac­cred­ited and that she still lacked ad­e­quate skills to man­u­fac­ture qual­ity prod­ucts.

De­ter­mined to do things prop­erly, she found an ac­cred­ited train­ing provider which had chem­i­cal en­gi­neers as in­struc­tors. Once prop­erly skilled, she en­coun­tered an­other hur­dle – the raw ma­te­ri­als, which were needed in large vol­umes, were very ex­pen­sive.

It was clear she needed to source start-up fund­ing but dis­cov­ered that fun­ders were re­luc­tant to ‘start from scratch with you’.

A chance meet­ing with OR Tambo dis­trict mayor No­makhosazana Meth changed her life. She shared her vi­sion with the mayor and showed her sam­ples.

“It was a Fri­day and the fol­low­ing Mon­day peo­ple from the Lo­cal Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment (LED) unit called me.”

The rest, as they say, is his­tory. Sobai im­pressed the LED team and soon re­ceived the fund­ing she needed to buy raw ma­te­ri­als, pack­ag­ing and la­bels. When her busi­ness picked up, she was able to ac­quire fur­ther fund­ing from the NYDA as well as the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Tourism, which gave her the R750 000 she needed to pro­cure her own pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity.

Sobai now mar­kets her prod­ucts un­der the Cleanex brand and em­ploys five full­time work­ers and a young chem­i­cal en­gi­neer on a part­time ba­sis.

A dream came true for Non­ceba Sobai, who runs a busi­ness that man­u­fac­tures clean­ing prod­ucts.

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