Johannesburg, April 2022: Following a close race in February, the Firstwatch Entrepreneur’s Challenge winners were announced. First, second and third place winners were awarded R 100 000, R 50 000 and R 25 000 in cash and business support respectively, plus business mentorship from social development enterprise Over the Rainbow for six months. The top three comment on their newfound fame and fortune.

Phumzile Mthembu is the third place winner and Founder of Ingcweti Pty Ltd. Ingcweti is a responsible manufacturer of natural skincare products, formulated entirely by Phumzile herself, who was inspired to create the brand to deal with her baby’s skin irritation. Phumzile began her career manufacturing perfumes but now works fulltime on Ingcweti. She comments:

 “When I started this business, I did it all for my son. It was the product of a lot of research and experimentation with organic materials and natural remedies. It turned into a business venture through word of mouth, beginning with people I know who tried out the remedy for themselves, with great results. Mothers began to enquire about the ointment and it grew organically from there. I was able to help my son and am now able to help other people too. I believe we will eventually go international.

“The R 25 000 prize money is going to help me scale up my business and employ more people. I am so glad that I moved out of my comfort zone and started this business. It was a process of trial and error that really worked in the end. My advice to other entrepreneurs out there is that you can do anything you put your mind to. Effort leads to results, and giving up should never be an option.”  

Zethu Nyali, second place winner and founder of Zee Organics founded her business for very personal reasons, hoping to help cancer sufferers overcome some of the immense personal challenges they face. Zethu was also battling unemployment at the time. Zethu, a microbiology and biochemistry major at university, combined traditional remedies and sound scientific formulas to create her range of all-natural hair and skincare products.

‘’Winning the second prize is so exciting for me,” says Zethu. “I started my business because of my sister, who has cancer. Seeing her getting bullied and losing her self-esteem due to hair loss broke my heart, so I decided to do something about it. Working with the mentors in the competition helped me become more financially aware. It was an incredible networking opportunity that has opened up a world of contacts and resources for me. The network is so valuable.

“Winning the cash and business support means that I can produce more products as they are currently in demand. I can now buy more equipment and grow the business. I aim to use social media to get more exposure in the market and also to leverage word of mouth. I have opened a store in Durban and hope to expand, opening more branches in the near future.”

First place winner, Siyabonga Ndlela is the founder of the Ndlela Agri Group. Siyabonga is an engineer who turned his focus to farming, following his grandfather’s advice that that people should follow their passions.  

Siyabonga (31) comes from rural Impendle near Pietermaritzburg in KZN. He comments, “Being the first prize winner is such an honour for me. I am truly grateful. The main reason I entered the Firstwatch Entrepreneur’s Challenge is that I wanted to get my name out there so that people could get to know about me and my business.

“With the prize money, I am going to buy some machinery for my business and put up fencing where I plant my vegetables. I give back some of my vegetables to those who need them in my community, so I am happy that I will get to do more of that.

“My advice to all the entrepreneurs out there is to choose what you love and go for it. Waking up for work becomes so much easier when you do what you love.”

With sustainable products emerging as the true leaders in the Firstwatch Entrepreneurs Challenge, these three business owners are set to follow through on their newfound success with more hard work as they continue to grow their businesses responsibly, in the spirit of South African entrepreneurship. Congratulations to all the winners.

To find out more about the Challenge, visit


About Firstwatch Whisky:

Firstwatch Imported Whisky is an award-winning 100% blend of imported rye and cereal grain whiskies. The base whisky in the blend has been matured for at least three years and is exceptionally easy mixing, with a full rye taste. Firstwatch has an intense golden glowing amber colour, a floral aroma with sweet fruitiness and a rich, complex wooded rye flavour. Perfectly blended to deliver reward in every sip. Firstwatch. First for Reward.