Biochemist and entrepreneur Nokuthula Fihla launches her own washing powder brand

Biochemist and entrepreneur Nokuthula Fihla, who produces Gogo's Washing Powder in her factory in Midway, Soweto./Veli Nhlapo
Biochemist and entrepreneur Nokuthula Fihla, who produces Gogo's Washing Powder in her factory in Midway, Soweto./Veli Nhlapo

Biochemist and entrepreneur Nokuthula Fihla quit her high paying job to launch her own washing powder brand called Gogo's Washing Powder.

Gogo's Washing Powder is black-owned and produced in a small factory in Midway, Soweto. Fihla, who was born in Dlamini, also in Soweto, decided to produce her own soap to empower local people through job opportunities.

The aspiring businesswoman started producing the soap in October last year after months of testing and making sure the product was good as well as different.

"Turning 50 was a motivation for me to stop working and do my own thing. I knew that if I don't do it now, I will live with regrets. My aim is
to empower communities around here," Fihla said.

Like all soaps in the market who rely on a certain strength, Gogo's Washing Powder boasts a fast action and stain remover. The soap comes in 150g plastic bags, 5 litres, 10 litres and 20 litres.

"The soap has a lasting foam and is good for soaking clothes. That is why our pay-off line is Faka Amanzi Uzobona (pour water and you will see).

"It took us forever to get the formula right but we made sure that it does the job and it is not harsh on the hands."

Explaining how she came up with the brand name, she says: "We came up with this particular name because we know that we all trust our grandmothers and their wisdom. We decided to mix that gogo wisdom with science."

To spread the word about the new product, Fihla, who wears many hats in the business, depends on direct marketing. She also does activations in malls, where they wash clothes to demonstrate the strength of the soap.

She admits that it has been tough for her having to run the factory from her own pocket.

Fihla says the limited resources in marketing have assisted her to reach people in Alexandra, Tembisa, Soweto and Evaton. "We also use Jozi FM to spread the word but activations work for us... what we do mostly is work with distributors who go and sell the soap to their communities."

Fihla admits that the industry is still dominated by big brands owned by white people. Her biggest wish is to increase distribution and penetrate wholesales market and also get funding to take the brand to the next level.

Fihla worked for Unilever in the research and development department for 10 years. She also worked for Black Like Me, Adcock Ingram and Pepsi. She did bachelor of science, majoring in biochemistry, at the University of the North.

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