Legendary writer, director and theatre producer, Dr Mbongeni Ngema and Thobile Sam Mpondo on 7 July 2021 visited MUT’s Technology Station in Chemicals (TSC) to discuss possibilities of a collaboration in making products. They discussed creating household cleaning products like hard surface cleaners, among other possibilities
The TSC team, led by Sbu Nkosi, the Deputy Director of the station, elaborated on the business strategy they employ to assist emerging businesspeople. Nkosi said they assist businesspeople with creating new products, and with improving existing products. They also advise them on how to deal with the funding part of the business.
Nkosi told Dr Ngema that the business model that their funder, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), implements is that TIA contributes a large percentage of the funds, while the emerging business individual contributes the remaining lesser percentage. Nkosi assured Dr Ngema that their relationship with the TIA is based on accountability as its foundation. Their books are audited by the University, and their activities are reported at the highest government level. TIA is a government-funding agency. Nkosi also informed Dr Ngema and his manager, Mpondo, that when they start a new product, they follow a certain procedure.
“We will give you a form that you need to fill in to give the information we need. We will then start doing desktop research about what you are proposing to us. We will come up with several formulations, and then narrow those down to four. Then we will go on to the lab, and do some tests, until we arrive at the last stages. The stages include the client taking the new product to the public for testing. We then deal with the feedback from the public,” said Nkosi.
Dr Ngema, who is famous for producing Sarafina, said he was interested in household products and wanted to take advantage of the expertise that his team and the TSC have. He will be in charge of marketing and other strategies they have.
Dr Ngema said they wanted to build upon existing brand names which he called, “giving a brand more legs”. He has done it with some of the brands under his wing. For instance, there are now perfumes called ‘Sarafina’, and ‘Zulu’. These are offshoots of the two world-renowned motions pictures that Dr Ngema is associated with.
The TSC assists their clients with the production of detergents, household cleaning products, bath soaps, bath foam, and perfume.