This was a long and arduous journey that demanded of her hard work, determination and patience. Despite the challenges she encountered in the pursuit of her dream Mangwiro never looked back; she soldiered on thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit and passion.
The other motivation for Mangwiro to steadfastly look for product that suits her hair is the fact that for 20 years she wore dreadlocks which require better care and nourishment.
She said she has been trying a variety of hair products ranging from mixed homemade solutions to other recipes based on word-of-mouth and anecdotes. But none of those came close to solving her hair problem including products from abroad.
Her eureka moment came in 2016 when she launched Nilotiga, which according to Mangwiro “is natural hair care product solution to dry, brittle hair. Researched and formulated locally, we use high quality ingredients that cater to natural hair”. Some of the main ingredients include, among others, shea butter, marula and avocado oils.
The breakthrough was preceded by extensive years of research, which involved Mangwiro familiarising herself with the structure of African hair and skin and ingredients that are compatible with them.
In addition, the ingredients also underwent thorough and comprehensive technical tests so that they remain organic and natural. Perhaps more importantly, the ingredients were formulated to rejuvenate, nourish and moisturise dry and brittle natural hair.
Mangwiro’s hair products do not only contain local ingredients but area also locally produced and thus benefit the country’s economy. Nilotiga has become a much sought-after hair product and is virtually available in every retail store fighting for shelf space with other established and global brands across the country.
Mangwiro is a graduate of Unisa where she studied Masters’ degree in Information Technology from 2013 and 2015. She credits the institution for her success saying it nurtured her entrepreneurial skills and taught her to be focused and self-driven.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic the Black hair care industry in South Africa was estimated to be valued at just under R10 billion per year. It is further estimated that there are over 30 000 hair salons catering mostly to African and ethnic hair.
According to the 2010 Professional Hair Care Market South Africa report, the industry is considered to be one of the largest on the continent. Black, particularly African women, annually purchase hair care products worth billions forcing big local retailers to include more natural hair care products such as NIlotiga on their shelves to meet the growing demand.
The industry is also counted among the largest sectors that contribute to the economy of the country with majority of the hair saloons owned and operated by youths in most parts of the country.