Nappy business opening value chain in local townships
With a passion for nappies, Shane Ngwenya has founded a business that seeks to create more jobs in the township. Softline specialises in healthcare products of which Adorables, children’s nappies, is one of its leading merchandise.
The black-owned business began when Ngwenya was hit with a divine intervention while struggling to find a unique business idea to excel with.
“Ten years ago I said a prayer,” said Ngwenya, “lo and behold I heard a voice say to me – ‘babies’. And I said, ‘what about babies?’ and it said ‘diapers – get into the diapers business'.”
With no black-owned nappy business in the market other than proprietors who sold pre-existing brands, Ngwenya was inspired to create a business that would be affordable and proudly South African.
Faced with the difficulty of reaching customers, Ngwenya and his partners sold out of their car trunks and at spaza shops.
“A lot of our people cannot afford premium nappies to use for their kids,” said Ngwenya. “We realised that not only is there a great gap in the market but there is a need.”
Ngwenya said that Softline Adorables has received praise for the business which targets middle to low-income households. Their biggest goal at the moment is to find a bigger distribution channel to help the business go mainstream. While this challenge is yet to be accomplished, Ngwenya has found it offers opportunities for members of his community.
“We then decided that while we are knocking on doors and waiting to get into mainstream retail stores – why don’t we empower our people, especially in the townships?”
Softline Adorables now has distributors who receive stock on consignment who then help sell through various means to promote pro-black businesses that open a value chain in the townships.
With a following rising from within the continent to as far as the United States, Ngwenya is hoping for support in terms of a factory to help push more volume for distribution and economic growth in rural and township communities.