From Phalaborwa to the world: Inspirational story on how Portia M turned R200 into millions


By Staff Reporter

PHALABORWA-Portia Mngomezulu started Portia M Skin in 2010 after she discovered the healing effect of Marula on her pregnancy-related stretch marks. Mngomezulu originally invested R200 in the company, and in 2018 it yielded over R10 million sales thus far.

Mngomezulu got the inspiration for her business in 2010 after she had a child.

Her mother-in-law told her about the healing properties of marula oil and told the entrepreneur to try it on her stretch marks.

Mngomezulu returned to her hometown of Phalaborwa,  and sourced the oil from local women. She said she saw a difference within a few weeks.

According to Mngomezulu, the oil worked so well that she thought of making cosmetic products from this indigenous oil

The eldest of three children, she studied   towards   an Information Technology diploma at the Tshwane University of Technology. “I loved technology and completed my diploma in 2002. At the time,  I was convinced that I wanted to excel as a programmer. I also completed a certificate in Project Management through Unisa and did an internship at Siemens — where I worked for nine years,” she shares.

Portia M products are available at Clicks, Checkers, Pick n Pay, Dischem

Reportedly, she began her entrepreneurial journey with just R200. The former IT medical engineer registered her business with only one product.

This business started as an experiment with Mngomezulu using her own house as a de facto mini-factory, using a two-plate stove, and mixing ingredients with cake-mixing tools.

In 2015, after pitching her business, Mngomezulu received financial assistance from the Innovation Hub, an organisation that promotes economic development through fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

Her prize from the Innovation Hub award also included a 40 square metre space to kick-start her factory.

To ensure that she could get in-depth knowledge of the industry, Mngomezulu studied a supplier development programme at GIBS business school.

According to the 40-year-old, she launched her skincare range because at the time there were few products in the retail space specifically made for African skin.

The skincare brand prides itself on using indigenous African oils.

In 2018, Mngomezulu was announced as the recipient of the Top Entrepreneur in Agro-processing Award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2018, at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Entrepreneur Awards.

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