Three young designers take the indigenous route to business success

Three young designers with bright ideas based on indigenous knowledge have benefitted from design interventions by the Design Institute. The Institute has a vested interest in ensuring that it develops the capabilities of young people by coupling design, innovation and entrepreneurship and offering hand-on support.

One of the young people who have worked with the SABS Design Institute  is Lutendo Magoro who is developing a range of products made from an indigenous plant called Munugwane. The plant is used as a traditional medicine and can cure mouth ulcers and sore throats. Lutendo’s aim is to create a modern branded version of an ancient cure


Another designer that has benefited from the Design Institute’s expertise is Mzukisi Mbane with his clothing brand Imprint. Imprint clothing and accessories is a fashion brand that celebrates glamour, while telling the story of African ancestors. Mzukisi uses distinct design, prints, fabrics and raw material such as leather to execute his fashion range.

Phindile Mbuyazi approached the Design Institute with her idea of using red clay as a natural beauty treatment. This was the birth of the Ibomvu Red Clay range of products. Ethnic women have used red clay as part of their beauty regimen for millennia. The Ibomvu range of cosmetics uses extracts of red clay minerals as its source and is aimed at people who wish to use natural beauty products.

The process these designers have undergone at the Design Institute is as follows: After they were guided through the design process, expert mentors helped them navigate their way through the barriers and challenges of production, costing, retail supply and more. Brand building is of the utmost importance and the young innovators were provided with tools to build an effective brand and to present their products to the market.

The process is on-going. Designers, innovators and entrepreneurs can contact the Design Institute’s Go-to-Hub that functions within the Transnet Design Innovation and Research Centre. As a first port of call, they can undergo a one-day programme that offers practical steps to product ideation and product development to potential businesses. The programme aims to provide practical tools to start-ups companies on how to commercialise their business ideas.  

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