At boot camps held throughout SA in October, the 12 tested their skills against a number of other fashion designers. All vying for one of 12 spaces on the Threads programme, participants had to have confirmed creative accolades and prove their business acumen through a series of activities. Found to be this year’s best, the chosen candidates also had to have established fashion brands:
• Tshepo Mohlala of Tshepo The Jean Maker
• Tshego Manche of La Manche Clothing
• Junior Mmotla of Mamagasehome
• Anthony Smith of 2BOP
• Madja Robin of Chimpel
• Thabo Makhetha of Thabo Maketha
• Yameka Lize of Refined Revolt
• Asanda Mali of Mal’stones by Asanda Mali
• Evan Zemba of WIC Designs
• Lyndall Moodley of Hannah Grace Maternity
• Jacqueline Munsami of JSE Couture
• Sabiha Badsha of Haya Collective
According to the organisers, the Threads accelerator was established as a response to a continent-wide problem, one that is especially prevalent in South Africa. "The global fashion industry is worth $3 trillion, but Africa’s efforts account for just 1% of that, even including the manufacturing and textile industry. We know that Africa doesn’t lack creativity, talent and access to resources; the main stumbling block is the inability of entrepreneurs to turn their brands into viable businesses that create jobs and profits, and, so, make a positive impact on the economy.
"Small- and medium-sized businesses need to become the engine room of jobs and growth in the coming years, but poor planning is a major reason why as many as 70% of SMEs fail in South Africa – half of them within the first five years. Thus, skills training is inseparable from entrepreneurship: changes in- and outside a business will require sound strategies to meet the challenges involved, such as securing supplies, leveraging existing cross-border trade agreements and gaining access to markets. The Threads accelerator can teach entrepreneurs all of this."
To ensure a solid academic foundation, Threads partnered with E4Impact, an initiative of Italy’s Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore that fosters sustainable development through impact entrepreneurship. Each week the accelerator tackles a specific area of business with some of South Africa’s top minds as custodians. Modules cover finance and business plans, manufacturing, e-commerce, marketing, selling methods and more.
At the end of the 12 weeks, in March 2018, a programme winner will be selected by a panel of industry-experienced judges. The winner receives a package that includes a trade trip to Europe to meet top retailers and buyers, a sponsored Mercedes Benz for one year and an SME banking starter pack from Standard Bank.