Alumna and entrepreneur Tharina van den Heever is married to Divan. With them is their daughter, Caria.
Caring for her daughter Caria gave Tharina the idea of importing reusable cloth nappies made of natural materials.
Mama Bear cares about
baby bottoms and
The birth of her baby daughter brought major change to Tharina van den Heever’s life and sent her career in a totally new direction.
Tharina, an NWU alumna, exchanged her busy corporate career as a stockbroker and oil seeds commodities trader to be a full-time mother to little Caria, now three years old.
This opened the door for her to start a brand-new importing business.
Wanting only the best for her baby, Tharina started her Mama Bear business, importing cloth nappies, eco-products and special carry bags for little ones.
It was Tharina’s nose that led her to start up Mama Bear. “I have a very sensitive sense of smell and could not stand the smell of the disposable nappies. I started reading about alternatives and came upon quite a few versions of the modern cloth nappy in Australia,” says Tharina, who lives on a farm near Polokwane in the Limpopo Province.
“My mother-in-law lives in Australia and she initially brought me some of these modern nappies. I was immediately impressed with them as they do not contain any chemicals; they can “breathe” and fitted perfectly around Caria’s little baby body.” She adds that these nappies are also very easy to wash and are eco-friendly. “You dispose of the liner and throw the nappy in the wash.”
Doing Mother Earth a favour
“The economist in me took over and after I had made a few calculations I realised what unbelievable savings it would mean for me. Besides, my ’greeny’-hippie heart took over and I realised that I would also do Mother Earth a big favour by using these natural products.”
On her Mama Bear website, she explains that disposable nappies often end up in landfills and seep into water tables, ultimately polluting fresh water sources. Disposables are also said to take at least 300 years to decompose.
Tharina says that the business is more of a passion than a way to make money. “I know the products are the best quality and can save other moms a lot of money.”
Helping to carry the load
Tharina’s husband, Divan, is a professional golfer and hunter who is often away from home. She had to make a plan to carry Caria with her while working on the farm and with her horses.
To make it easier for her, she started importing carry bags from Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland that are strong enough to carry a three-year-old child. The bags are specially designed to support the baby’s spine and hips.
Tharina was born in Bothaville and was raised on the farm. She obtained her BCom degree in risk management from the NWU in 2007. She talks with great nostalgia about her days as a student in Potchefstroom and says that she will always carry those memories with her.
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Mama Bear’s little cub, Caria, loves the horses on their farm near Polokwane.