Case: Worcester cooperative project

Case: Worcester cooperative project

Background

The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) in Worcester, Western Cape, was approached by an informal clothing manufacturer, requesting assistance with the development of their business. The company, HJM creations, owned by three sisters,  produced various clothing products ranging from sports kits to wedding dresses. The lack of growth in their business was attributed to a shortage of skills as well as the lack of substantial orders.

The SEDA business advisor contacted the Technology Station Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) for technical assistance and advice. The TSCT agreed to assist if the intervention included more clothing businesses or entrepreneurs from the region.

Preparation

During the planning stages the TSCT and SEDA met and decided that a suitable location for training would be at Hextex , a large textiles company based in Worcester. Hextex had the appropriate facilities as well as spare sewing machines for training. Hextex agreed to the proposal as such an intervention aligned to the company’s CSI goals, which was to be more involved in enterprise and supplier development within Worcester.

The Breede Rivier Municipality (BRM) was brought on board and assisted with recruiting additional clothing businesses from the municipality’s database. Additional individuals and businesses were attracted to the project, which included Valentyn General Services, a small manufacturing business similar to HJM creations. The BRM also provided transportation for the training.

The first meeting attracted a group of eleven female participants. The TSCT carried out the needs analysis and project scoping. It was established that five out of the eleven individuals had never worked in a factory or sewn before. The remaining six were either self-taught sewing operators or worked in factories as sewing operators.  Based on this information, it was decided to provide training on the fundamentals of the clothing manufacturing processes and systems. The learners were introduced to theoretical and practical industrial concepts, whilst at the same time manufacturing their own products.

Project Images

Post programme

The two informal businesses HJM creations and Valentyn General Services have since the intervention secured orders from Hextex. This initial order which amounted to 350 units was a test order, which would later develop into more substantial orders. The TSCT committed time to after-training support to ensure that the businesses were successful in delivering products conforming to quality standards. This was to ensure a sustainable relationship between Hextex and these businesses.  The additional support included training for bulk cutting as well as availing a TSCT employee to oversee the production of the order. SEDA was also dedicated to formalising the businesses so that they could apply for funding for further growth.

Conclusion

The TSCT and other role-players have created the correct environment for job creation for the women in the Worcester by providing constant support and carrying the processes until the desired results were achieved.

The eleven participants have acquired knowledge about clothing production in an industrial environment. This knowledge enables them to produce clothing products in a systematic, productive and quality conscious process. 

All the ladies have produced their own products from the technical drawing stage to the completion of the product. The five unskilled participants have now acquired a skill which enables them to start their own businesses.

The participants have gained insight into industrial production processes, which is knowledge lacking in most informal sewing businesses.

The most valuable outcome is that the two businesses have secured work from a well-established business.

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