What started off as a mix of organic products to fix her hair problem has now grown into a natural hair business disrupting the economy of Khayelitsha.
Throughout high school, Chuma Nxazonke had a problem with being unable to use most of the hair products available in the market.
After she graduated from university, like many young South Africans, she was unable to find employment.
In 2019, she took the initiative to join entrepreneurship programmes under the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Here she began to interact with like-minded young visionaries who were on a quest to reshape the narrative of their stories.
She had initially helped her sisters at home to do their hair. When they eventually went to the salon, they were praised for having good, natural hair.
The 35-year-old entrepreneur from section E had mixed essential oils, shea butter and Cape Aloe. She was getting validation from her peers and ‘customers’ about the confidence the product instilled.
Chuma said Sweet Honey Comb was born to remove the stigma around African hair.
Immediately after registering her company, she bought bottles, branded and sold them throughout Khayelitsha.
Just when she thought she knew everything about the business, she got a call from the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
“I knew where to go for registration in 2019. I did little samples, and people were amazing in supporting me. The majority said the product gives life to the hair. So, I took it seriously, bought bottles, and printed the branding. Then I got a call from SARS about my business. That is when I realised I know nothing about business,” she said.
She came across a social media post about the Youth In Business (YIB) programme by the Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative (CiTi). She received a call to join the 2022 cohort, where she was introduced to the administration of running a business, networking and paperwork.
“I came across this programme online and inquired. I was supposed to be in the next one, but they had a spot open, so I came. During the programme they helped us to manage the business. People were also sharing ideas, so I learned so much from it.
“After I won the pitching competition, the judges added us to their mentorship programmes. I realised, for their programmes, they charged in Dollars. So, I was like, ‘South Africans charging dollars?!’ So, I got exposed to an international market,” she said.
Chuma said she was one of the lucky few to come across the YIB programme online. However, she hopes many more young people from her township can join UVU Africa (previously known as The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative – CiTi) programmes.
“I never knew people came together to speak about funding, to speak about business, effortlessly. So, the programme changed me. When I am around them, even if I want to give up, I leave refreshed.
“I would recommend the programme because there are a lot of young entrepreneurs who do not know they are entrepreneurs or are unable to find work. When I was there, I realised it could change many people in my community. Some struggle in school, and perhaps they are a businessperson. It changes you and how you think by just being around the people,” she said.
During the launch of UVU Africa, Chuma received a life-changing conversation from UVU Bio Labs.
“I went to the launch of the UVU Bio Labs. Since I am a manufacturer and a winner of the pitch competition, they will have my brand tested in the lab. So, by opening this lab and testing my product, it will change my life because I see myself growing to become a global manufacturer,” she said.