Meshack Mulaudzi is an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellow, a qualified Chartered Accountant CA(SA) and a UJ alumni with a BCom Accounting (Honours) degree.
He has a passion for entrepreneurship as a way to solve unemployment problems in South Africa and on the continent.
His business, Kaelo Black Beauty designs manufactures and distributes African-themed toys for girls and boys, since Mulaudzi identified a lack of toys and related products African children can relate to.
"A personal example was about three years ago I couldn't find a suitable black African doll for my daughter. I didn't like what was available on the market, it was either not pretty or overpriced so I set out to design a doll just for her," he explains.
"We use these toys to inspire a message of self-love and identity, teaching girls to know: 'You are beautiful as you are,' and 'it is ok to be you'."
For girls' toys he started with a black African doll called Mahle (a Zulu word meaning beautiful).
Mahle also introduced her special haircare range for kids. Teaching children to keep their hair well maintained without harsh chemical treatments.
The boys' range of toys will be launching an action figure called Captain Africa aka CA. CA teaches young boys to respect and protect women and to grow up to be a man of good character.
"My single mother planted the seed of entrepreneurship in me. From an early age she used to take me along to her stall in town to sell fruits," tells Mulaudzi.
"She taught me the art of identifying problems people face and bringing solutions to solve those problems for money."
In starting and building his business the biggest challenges were funding and red tape.
At the same time, his biggest successes were obtaining contracts to supply national retailers like Game, Pick n Pay, Dis-chem, and Toys R Us.
"It was a lot of hard work and careful planning which led to successful listing with retailers at the end," he says.
"Currently, we are busy securing funding to scale-up the business to supply national retailers. We will also be launching an animation series on the Mahle and Captain Africa brand in December this year."
There are more African inspired toys in the pipeline coming to market this year, he reveals.
"We also will be launching an innovative e-learning on haircare to make it easier for customers to use Mahle Haircare products," he says.
"Entrepreneurship is not something you do is who you are, you don’t get paid for the hours and money you spend developing a product/service you get paid for results."
His advice is to focus on solving problems, then people will pay you money for your solution.
"Collaborating with other entrepreneurs where there is synergy, makes the journey less painful," he adds.
"And use social media aggressively, it is the easiest way to have access to market and let the potential customers know about your product and service."