Thokozile Mangwiro, a South African premium quality, natural hair care product manufacturer — Lionesses of Africa

Impact Partner Content – Absa

It is in growing her own natural hair for the past 15 years that Thokozile Mangwiro found her inspiration to create a natural hair care product line. After going to several salons and an endless search of locally produced products that truly work for afro natural hair, it was clear that there was a HUGE gap in the market for professionally formulated products for natural hair. Thokozile, like many other women, struggled with extremely dry hair. This, and the lack of knowledge, led to intense research and experimentation with natural ingredients such as Shea butter and avocado oil for skin and hair. After several years of research, formulations and product testing, Thokozile launched Nilotiqa, a line of products that are proudly made from organic and naturally formed ingredients to deeply moisturize and nourish natural hair.

Thokozile Mangwiro is an Information Technology Masters graduate from the University of South Africa, with over 8 years’ experience in the database administration, analysis and intelligence industry. She is a wife and mother of two energetic boys, Anesu and Omari. She is born and bred in South Africa, Johannesburg. A budding entrepreneur, she is driven and passionate about empowering and inspiring other women to feel naturally beautiful through products that are made in South Africa, are of the highest quality, are beautiful and luxurious, to showcase to the world.

Nilotiqa is one of the 117 companies showcased at the Absa Lionesses Xpo. Lioness Weekender spoke to Thokozile to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey and her aspirations for the future of her brand and business. 

What does your company do?

We manufacture, distribute, and merchandise hair care products for retailers such as Clicks and Pick ‘n Pay; and market our Nilotiqa Hair Care product range.

What inspired you to start your company?

I have struggled with hair since I started growing my natural hair in 1999. In that defining and exciting moment, I quickly learnt that many of the products in retail stores were not created for my moisture hungry hair. I transitioned into dreadlocks the year after and have continued to do my own hair since then. Twelve years and several travels locally and internationally later, I continued to struggle until I began to formulate products that would truly nourish my hair. After two years of formulation, Nilotiqa was finally launched in February 2016. Since then, we have launched our products into Clicks Group and Pick ‘n Pay Group of stores. We therefore offer our customers easy access to our high quality products that cater to their hair.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

There is a huge gap in the market for a larger variety of additional products especially formulated for natural hair and skin care. The distinct difference of natural hair is that it requires products that are formulated for, but not limited to that specific type of hair. Nilotiqa was therefore formulated to focus on ultra-hydration, to promote healthy hair maintenance. The use of natural and organic ingredients has ensured that we offer our customers high quality products that do not contain harmful chemicals and still provide the most efficient nutrients. Our products are premium quality and offered at prices that are affordable to the target markets. Our main products are sustainable, support communities in Southern Africa and empower individual distributors of our products. We believe we offer an impact driven product, not only profit driven product lines.

Tell us a little about your team

Our team comprises myself, Thokozile Mangwiro, the founder of Nilotiqa. I am previously an ICT professional with a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics. I am responsible for all the product creation and administration for Nilotiqa. The Channel Distribution Head, who brings a financial background to the company and heads distribution. While working for Proctor and Gamble and Simba, he gained great experience in creating strong relationships with wholesalers and distributors. Our production manager leads two staff. We have an expert Social Media/Marketing Manager who manages our social media platforms and PR.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

I come from an academic and corporate background. I have always understood the idea of entrepreneurship, however I was focused on my corporate career. Even known to be creative, I was taught that academia was the only path to fulfilling one’s dreams. After my master’s degree, I felt as though I was not reaching my full potential as a human being; as an African woman. My love for Africa is very deep and I felt I was not creating anything that contributed to it. It is in the formulation of my products and the response of clients that I have found my entrepreneurial spirit. It is in my desire to want to create products that are impact driven, that will fuel this spirit. I have been running Nilotiqa since 2016. We have had huge business achievements; and very difficult times within the retail space. We have had to learn everything about how systems in retail work; we have experienced more NOs than I thought I could handle. This remains one of the most beautiful journeys of my life.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

On the retail side, we intend on seamlessly supplying Clicks Group and growing within their business; supplying Woolworths, Pick and Pay and Dischem stores with our brand across the African Continent. We will also manufacture and produce beauty and personal care products for the retailers we will be supplying. The hair industry is a constantly growing industry worth millions, especially in Africa. In Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria alone, consumers spend over $440 million a year on haircare products. According to a CNN report, “products that claim to solve specific hair concerns such as dry hair, thin hair and discoloration are doing well in South Africa.” Furthermore, Nilotiqa has the potential to expand to other continents across the world. The need for high quality organic and natural products is a growing trend that we intend to fulfil.

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

Through Nilotiqa, I get to make our customer feel so good about themselves. They fall in love with their hair… over and over again.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

A start-up can be challenging to women who do not have a vision of what they are trying to accomplish. My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to focus on their vision. Focusing on a strong vision will pull you through the emotional roller-coaster; it will pull you through the fear and doubt that will surely come. A strong vision will lead to the success of your business.

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