« 100 Years – 100 Lives » | SOUTH AFRICA - “The ILO prize was key for me to develop an effective business model”

How a young South African entrepreneur boosted his business by taking part in an ILO competition.

Feature | South Africa | 03 September 2019
BLOEMFONTEIN (ILO News) – When Tebang Motaung, a 26-year-old South African, attended a wedding a couple of years ago, he did not know yet that he would become an entrepreneur.

“I was simply taken aback when I saw the guests passing a hand towel along the buffet line. I imagined the many germs and bacteria on people’s hands were being passed along from one guest to the other,” he says.

Motaung started to think about ways to avoid such unhygienic situations. At the time he was a traffic officer, but he wasn’t earning the income he felt would be necessary to start a family.

So he started to think about a product that would serve a large community of users, particularly in environments where good hygiene practices were a challenge. This is when he decided to develop the product, the Tamikk Vadoek Sterilizer.

The product is sprayed directly onto the cloth and effectively kills more than 400 million bacteria found in a typical home. It also kills the bacteria on the hands of towel users, reducing the transmission of germs picked up when handling food.

Creating jobs

After setting up the business, he was able to create nine jobs involving the manufacture, packaging and distribution of the sterilizer. But despite the good start of his business, he lacked self-confidence. “When I first heard about the ILO’s 2013 enterPRIZE Challenge Business Competition, I was still wondering whether my idea to produce the Tamikk Vadoek sterilizer was worth being submitted,” he says.

A few days later he was listening to the radio and heard an interview announcing the competition. He decided to submit his idea for consideration – together with 548 other applicants.

He was surprised when he was told that he was on the shortlist, and even more so when he learnt that he was shortlisted as one of the final contestants. He ultimately won the first prize in the “best start-up” category.

More business

The prize and technical assistance gave a boost to his business. In 2014, he signed a contract with the Free State Department of Social Development to supply all 4,590 provincial crèches registered on its database each week with four bottles of the spray. Meanwhile, his production has gone from 1,300 bottles produced per year to an impressive 60,000 bottles per month.

He now employs 15 permanent staff, all of them under the age of 33, to provide customer care, deliveries and sales to customers. He has also moved his operations from Bloemfontein to the northern Free State town of Reitz, which is closer to the laboratory that produces the solution and can bottle larger volumes of the product. This cuts down on transportation costs that would otherwise be passed on to the consumer.

The plan now is to establish a manufacturing and bottling facility in Bloemfontein and he is currently in discussions to access the necessary financing to do so.

“I regard myself as a ‘serial entrepreneur’. I do hope that I can create a string of successful businesses run by others on my team,” he explains.

Motaung feels that the ILO competition forced him to think more clearly about how he would develop the business and create more formal jobs. “Without the prize I would not have developed such an effective business model,” he concludes.

The Free State enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge was launched in 2013 to help young South African entrepreneurs to seize unexploited or under-exploited business opportunities.

“They were invited to think out of the box and be innovative,” says the ILO’s Jens Dyring Christensen. With many of South Africa’s young men and women neither in employment, education nor training, the enterPRIZE Challenge is a promising means to address the urgent need for entrepreneurship development and jobs in the country.”

The competition was made possible through a development cooperation project between the Government of Flanders and the ILO with major companies as well as local business associations, chambers of commerce and universities joining as sponsors.

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