MUT Student’s No Plastic Water Purification Company


Nkululeko Msomi, a 25-year-old final year chemical engineering student at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is the founder of a water purification business. It also educates and encourages people to purify their own water at an affordable cost. Msomi spoke to the Daily Vox about his business.

I was born in 1994 exactly on Freedom Day, hence my name. Born in Durban, got a chance to grow up between both Durban and Gauteng, where I matriculated.

I chose my field of study because of passion and drive. Also, I’m passionate about sustainable development and innovative engineering and entrepreneurship. I have a very strong desire to have a sustainable impact on the people in my country, especially those coming from disadvantaged communities.

At the university, I previously served as an executive of an international non-profit organisation called Enactus, which is dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurship.

One of the main challenges I’ve faced during the course of my studies was the transition. Having to leave home in Gauteng and come back to KwaZulu-Natal, I was all on my own. I also struggled academically because I wasn’t as focused as I am now. I had to challenge myself to learn chemical engineering…

I’m currently a recipient of the National Student Funding Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and I’m expected to do my practical part of the course after June, but I still haven’t found an inservice training to work with.

As much as I have my own company, which is called Ki-Agua, I still need practical knowledge from a company to complete my studies. Ki-Agua was established in January 2018, after seeing an opportunity on how to solve the problem of unsafe and dirty water. It was a way of providing clean purified drinking water in the most affordable and eco friendly manner for the people.

The charcoal stick boiling process

Our vision as Ki-Agua is to incorporate modern lifestyle with modest design in order to create products that are pure, sustainable and desirable; to provide purified clean water without any plastic waste, while being the best at presenting the natural experience to our customers and our community.

Charcoal sticks boiling before putting them into water dispensers.

I’m the sole owner of Ki-Agua at the moment but I have a team that I’m working with. What I’m happy about is the fact that Ki-Agua sustains itself, although there was a time where I contributed from my own pocket. A share percentage of the capital sometimes come from my team members, being the people I work with.

Water dispenser with purified clean water.

I raise some of the money from doing public speaking and engagements on sustainable development. The business is currently based in Kingsburgh, Amanzimtoti. However, we’ve decided to split our stock between Johannesburg and Durban because most of our clientele comes from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. This has helped with minimising cost of having to use money each time we have to deliver to a client.

The initial plan was to sell bottled water but as I did my research, it conflicted with what I stand for because that bottled water would use plastic. The world doesn’t need more plastic thrown around, I then had to look at how the world will be consuming water in a few years to come. That’s when innovation came in, because as Ki-Agua we don’t sell water but we give our clients and the community the power to purify their own water at home, offices and wherever in their comfort zone.

We are trying to raise a nation that understands that clean water is for everyone, irrespective of their social or financial background. One would wonder how this business works, well we sell a charcoal stick to our clients. Our packaging is biodegradable, which makes it nature friendly.

Purified water in a dispenser

We also have combos of glass water dispensers with a tap and charcoal sticks, which vary in terms of sizes. This allows one to be able to purify their own water by following the necessary steps on the packaging.

We have so much water on earth but so little of that we can consume, I wish to encourage South African to use water sparingly.

All images supplied