A goal-driven chartered accountant has embarked on an entrepreneurial quest to establish an African Walt Disney World after struggling to find a suitable doll for his five-year-old daughter.
Businessman Meshack Mulaudzi, 31, is the founder of Kaelo Black Beauty, a company that designs, manufactures and distributes Black African dolls to the market. He says Mahle is a Zulu word meaning beautiful, and that the company seeks to use the dolls to instil identity and self-love in children’ especially in those of African descent.
The company is named after his five-year-old daughter Kaelo. Mulaudzi, who completed his chartered accountancy articles at Sasol, also has a three-year-old son, Neo.
He said after spending four years as a lead investment analyst at Sasol Pension Fund where he managed about R45 billion of employees’ money, he started his own investment firm called Black Pearl Investments. He said he started designing dolls as a hobby while waiting for his investment licence. “I was looking for a black doll for my daughter but I couldn’t find one,” recalled Mulaudzi who is originally from Duthuni village in Venda, Limpopo.
“The ones I could find were either not pretty or were overpriced. That’s when I decided to design one for my daughter.” He said it cost R50 000 to design a mould and the factory he found could not produce just one doll, so they settled on a minimum order of 50.The outspoken entrepreneur says he realised that he was on to something big. “The response from social media and our competitor wanting us out of business told me that maybe there is something here. We were like, let’s build a proper business around this.”
The mass production of Mahle Dolls, which are 100 percent vinyl, commenced in November last year and he has not looked back ever since.
Mulaudzi says the dolls cost R299 each and that the company has shifted its distribution model from direct to partnerships with major retailers.