School of Chemistry & Physics

PhD Student Opens her Own Manufacturing Plant

With R1 200 in her pocket and loads of determination, PhD student in UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics, Ms Nomandla Ngcoya dreamt of opening her own detergent and cosmetics manufacturing plant. Now she has officially cut the ribbon to her facility, which has the capacity to produce 10 000 litres of products a day.

Her company, D Chem Group currently employs 10 people and her products are being snapped up by some Spar outlets in Pietermaritzburg, where the plant is based.

An entrepreneur by choice, Ngcoya says that she is utilising her academic and research know-how to create products that are used in daily life. Creating employment opportunities in the field of chemical manufacturing is her passion.

‘D Chem’s vision is to improve people’s quality of life by providing quality detergents,’ she said. ‘This will be done through use of smart production technologies and systems, in-house expertise and research and development.’ Ngcoya featured in the Mail&Guardian‘s Top 200 Young South Africans (Science and Technology) in 2016.

‘It took me eight months to sell the first 25 litres I made. It was discouraging but I don’t give up easily. At that time, I would approach people and they would ask me for a sample. I also had cases where people would ask for the sample on credit and they said they’d pay later if they found that the product was working. In 2017, I lost R17 000 because of credit. My business was not functional for almost three months,’ she said.

Ngcoya shared how she managed to secure funding and eventually saw her dream come true.

At the launch of her company, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Ravi Pillay, congratulated Ngcoya on her achievement.

‘It is certainly the start of a much brighter future. It is extremely inspiring. We are proud to have young people like Nomandla in our society. We encourage you to complete your PhD,’ he said.

•    Article first published in the Independent Online (IOL).

Words: Se-Anne Rall (IOL)

Photograph: Supplied