When Dr Nokuthula Mavela was nominated for National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards, she felt validated and deservedly rewarded for her contribution in the science and technology sector.
Taking top spot
The NSTF Awards celebrate and honour individual scientists who have made outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology and innovation. A look at Dr Mavela academic accomplishments suggests she is a serious contender for the top spot. She studied her undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and subsequently qualified as a homeopath in 2016. She also received accolades for being the head of the department and the department’s choice for overall best final year student. The following year she was nominated and awarded the Golden Key International Honorary Society membership upon being recognised as part of the top 15% high performing students at DUT.
Student Support Development Unit
Currently Dr Mavela works at the DUT’s Student Support Development Unit under the Centre for Excellence at Teaching. She is also pursuing her PhD in Health Sciences under the Faculty of Health Sciences at the DUT. Dr Mavela is nominated in the category of ‘Innovations and their Research and/or Development’ by teams, individuals or organisations as a corporate organisation.
Dr Mavela deserves the nomination based on her contribution to the indigenous knowledge systems that promotes recycling and environmentally friendly practices. A qualified homeopath, Dr Mavela was nominated for establishing Ewah Cosmeceuticals,a company that produces therapeutic personal care products made from cosmetic, medicinal plants through the use of indigenous knowledge systems and the recycling and re-purposing of suitable food waste, among others.
Social Development Goals
Dr Mavela explains that her products have been developed not only to treat some of the common skin conditions but also to fulfil important UN’s development goals. For instance, her products, which range from skin care, hair care and nail care to managing common skin, hair and nail conditions, are formulated to uphold the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number three which promotes good health and well-being for all. The other one is Sustainable Development Goal 12 which promotes responsible consumption and production.
“Our focus is on bio-identical, bio-compatible and increased bio-availability of activities in our products. We also make use of existing technologies such as micro-current and radio frequency to enhance product assimilation. As part of our growth plan we are working on improving these existing technologies in collaboration with Dr Rane and Mr Olusanya from the Mechanical Engineering Department as well as Mr Isaiah Adeyemo an alumnus of the Electrical Engineering Department at DUT,” says Dr Mavela. Some of the awards Dr Mavela received include being part of a team in 2021 comprising five other members from Pharos University Alexandria, University of the Arts and University of Sadat City in Egypt, they had won 1st prize in the Intra-Africa 2063 competition. She also participated in the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement’s online exhibition for research and entrepreneurship and she was selected as one of the winners in 2021 as well.
Dr Mavela is a facial and body burn survivor having suffered 3rd degree burns in 2007. She realised that one way of improving and hastening the healing process was through stimulation of her own body. To achieve this she decided to use complementary and alternative approaches. And this worked wonders as she was discharged within two months and 11 days. “For me this was a revelation that as Africans we ought to invest in our indigenous medical practices and validate them through scientific evidence for them to be integrated into the public health care sector. I believe health care professionals can bridge this gap,” says Dr Mavela.
She expressed her gratitude to the DUT management and the Innobiz office “for all that they have facilitated and afforded me as a young female entrepreneur to be recognised as a nominee at such a prestigious stage of the NSTF awards.