EC’s first black owner of sanitary brand flying

Mthatha-born Babalwa Mbuku, the founder of Ntombam Sanitary Towels, is a thriving businesswoman, motivational speaker, social influencer and mentor. She recently added author to her list of professional skills and a book signing in her honour was hosted at Hemingways Mall earlier this year.

Mbuku said the idea to start her business came to her during the budget speech engagements in 2018. “While young people were given a platform to express their needs to the government, a young girl from the Eastern Cape pleaded with government to provide sanitary towels.”

“The government responded that they had no strategy to move such an initiative and I took it upon myself to use my experience in business, my passion for
helping communities, as well as my passion for menstrual hygiene to come up with a strategy that involves manufacturing quality and affordable products, combined with education, partnerships and distribution in retail.”

“I have personally led and driven the business from its conception.”

Mbuku said lack of funding was the greatest challenge she faced in her business. “This is a business I started by selling my vehicle and sacrificing my leisure for my vision, as well as relying on social capital and self-marketing through social media.”

“I have also established myself as a brand and used my strength in networking to form relationships with retailers, resulting in Ntombam Sanitary Towels being listed in over 30 retailers in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, as well as forming strong partnerships with reputable companies.” she said

Mbuku is a recipient of the Old Mutual Partnerships Awards 2021 under the SMME Category; Top 25 most influential South Africans in 2020 third place winner; and Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network of Africa (CWENA) Award winner in 2021. She believes people should not be incapacitated by their past failures and her personal disctum is Kuyaqaleleka , which means “It is possible to start over.”

PROVIDING ACCESS: Babalwa Mbuku at her book signing event at Hemingways Mall in East London Picture: SUPPLIED


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