Meet Kutloano Mokoena, owner and founder of Mristo Soaps. At only 23, Kutloano has been running her business successfully for the past four years. Born and bred in Bethlehem, she moved to Bloemfontein with her parents due to employment reasons.
Kutloano has a bubbly personality and she is strongly self-motivated. She explained that growing up, she never had anyone believe in her. “I was not a smart child and I never had anything to protect me.” She would often question why people constantly look down her but says that made her love herself even more “I had to believe in myself because no one else did.”
Mristo Soaps is a cleaning detergent manufacturing company, based in Bloemfontein. They manufacture cleaning products for households and cars, some of the products the produce includes car wash & shine, tyre polish, dashboard polish, air freshener, pine gel, washing powder, floor cleaner, purpose cleaner and other household and industrial purposes.
Asked what inspired her to get into business, she explained that she had always wanted to go into business, but she wasn’t sure which kind. She also studied Business Management at Motheo TVET College. After Matric, she was not keen on studying further, her mother then suggested she register a business, because she was not willing to live with a person that is not doing anything.
She got her first contract from her previous High School; it was a contract to supply cleaning products for the school’s hostel for six months. Within these six months, she fell in love with manufacturing. She worked with a company called “Budget Soaps” while she was starting out until she started manufacturing the products.
She approached the NYDA for funding, in order to buy manufacturing in equipment, her request was successful, and she received funding to buy business equipment. She has employed five people in her store and hopes to employ more people in the future.
Asked what are the challenges she faced she answered “running a business in general is challenging, having to generate income is also a challenge on its own’’, she also mentioned that she had no experience in running a business, she had to learn operational things like making invoices, quotations which was a bit challenging in the beginning.
In 2018, she won an award for the best manufacture from the Youth Chamber of Commerce in the Free State and she was the first person to win that award. This year in May she won an award at the Standard Bank Top Women Conference Pitching-Den which was the first to be held in Free State.
Asked what she would say to a young woman who has just started a business or wants to start she replied “believe in yourself and remember who you are doing it for, it is not an easy journey but keep pushing and do not be discouraged by anyone”. She also added that she attends workshops and business seminars, in that way she gets to learn a lot about business and how to improve her own business.
Five years from now, Kutloano hopes to see her products in various stores and recognised all over the Free State.