With the scarcity of employment opportunities, many people are turning to start their own businesses as an alternative. These entrepreneurs have big dreams and plans for getting their businesses up and running, but often capital is a stumbling block. There might be funding available from agencies and government funding bodies but it is often limited or takes a long time to process.

Vuyani Ngidi faced just such a problem. Vuyani lives in Folweni in Kwa-Zulu Natal and is a qualified dental technologist with a BTech from the Durban University of Technology. He has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and started his Softex Feathers toilet paper business in 2012 at Westmead in Pinetown which is part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality area. Starting a business is challenging and Vuyani needed a lot of capital and he struggled to get funding but it didn’t stop him pursuing his dream:

“The type of business which I am doing – that’s, toilet paper manufacturing – requires a lot of capital for all the equipment needed and I, unfortunately, had a difficult time getting funding. I sought other means to get the operation going and self-funding was the only alternative to get my company off the ground in 2012. Getting the product to the end user was the next biggest challenge for me.”

Vuyani’s business has grown since 2012 and he is happy about the turnover and clientèle growth Softex Feathers has achieved. He is passionate about entrepreneurship but says it is not for the faint-hearted.

“I believe that entrepreneurship is all about passion, resilience, being innovative and dreaming big. We chose toilet paper manufacturing because we wanted to be the manufacturer and suppliers of something that has an endless demand. I feel happy that Softex Feathers employs 20 employees across its various departments, that’s what we call job-creation.”

Vuyani has not only grown Softex but was also the founder and MD of Ethekwini Dental Laboratories, which he established after he graduated. Although this business is still operating and servicing a number of dental professionals in KZN, he has since relinquished responsibilities as the managing director to focus more on Softex Feathers. His advice to young entrepreneurs comes out of years of experiences and challenges.

“In a nutshell, disappointments form part of the journey and you need to be able to handle disappointments to be ready for success because in business disappointments come thick and fast.”

Vuyani has some words of encouragement and motivation for the youths out there who would like to venture into business.

“When I talk to young people in the business I always tell them to be consistent, to learn to pick themselves up because they are likely going to be knocked down quite a few times. Then they need to be patient with the journey, for sometimes it may take longer to reach their destination or realise their expected goals.”


Tell us: What is it that you learned from Vuyani’s story?