“Give yourself a fighting chance tomorrow by doing what’s right today.”

Cindy Mkwanazi


Mining & Manufacturing

Organisation / Company

ChemKhowa (Pty) Ltd, trading as Crystal Nature


Cindy Mkwanazi, 29, was inspired by Theo Baloyi, who started his company Bathu Shoes by selling shoes from the trunk of his car. In a similar fashion, she started Crystal Nature by manufacturing all the products at her father’s house. She began on her own and now employs five full-time staff members. But she says that flying solo was not the way the award-winning company found its feet; building a successful company definitely requires a team effort. She ensures that her team members always feel valued and motivated, in a supportive workplace culture. Cindy had a BSc and used her scientific knowledge to begin manufacturing Crystal Nature’s detergents, but she had no idea how to make her home business competitive alongside international brands. To this end, she entered into the FB YSA accelerator programme, then the SME Toolkit Business Plan Competition. She won awards in both, and they equipped her with the knowledge she needed to expand her business. Passing on her skills and knowledge is important to Cindy and her team. They are involved in several township empowerment projects: employing and training the youth; encouraging women to start their own businesses; and conducting workshops that equip people with basic entrepreneurship skills.


BSc (Geological Sciences)


In 2022, when I began the business, I was manually manufacturing all products in my father’s house. Today, all manufacturing processes take place at the Chemistry Incubator (Chemin). They have provided us with advanced machinery and a well-ventilated workspace to ensure that we adhere to all manufacturing quality standards. Additionally, Chemin assists us with product quality testing through the SABS, ensuring our products meet the highest standards.
When the business started, I was operating alone. Today, Crystal Nature has five part-time employees. One important lesson I’ve learned is that building a successful company requires a team effort; I cannot do everything alone. This realisation was reinforced in 2023 when we were awarded Manufacturing Founder of the Year Under 30 in the South African region by SheAwards. This accolade has encouraged us to continue practising environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices.
Our journey from a small home-based operation to a recognised and award-winning company highlights the importance of teamwork, innovation and a commitment to quality and sustainability.


Theo Baloyi is my role model and I resonate with his journey with Bathu. Starting from selling shoes out of the trunk of his car to achieving international recognition serves as a profound inspiration for me as I embark on my own business venture. Like Theo, I am starting with limited resources but a wealth of determination and passion. His story resonates deeply with me because it reflects the humble beginnings and the relentless pursuit of a dream against all odds. Just as Theo used what he had to start, I am leveraging my own resources and ingenuity to build Crystal Nature from the ground up.