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The Clothing Bank expands to Midrand

The Clothing Bank (TCB), founded in February 2010 in Cape Town, has opened a Gauteng branch in Halfway House, Midrand. It has received a R1.5 million start-up loan from Woolworths and is joined by Edcon as clothing supply partner.
The Clothing Bank expands to Midrand

TCB provides unemployed mothers with training, skills and support so they can become self-employed businesswomen. In four years, it has trained over 431 women whose businesses have generated collective profits of R14.6 million from re-selling over 1.1 million surplus garments in Cape Town's townships. Over the last four years, founding sponsor Woolworths has donated 708,000 garments worth R42.5 million. Since 2012, Edcon has donated clothing worth R15 million. It is now Edcon's largest beneficiary and receives merchandise from 80% of its stores in the Western Cape.

The Gauteng branch will assist an estimated 100 women in its first year. The programme follows the holistic approach pioneered in the two Cape Town branches and includes over 500 hours of practical training in areas such as money management, business skills and life skills and access to merchandise.

Patron of TCB, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe said, "I have always believed that the transformative power of education, training and mentoring is crucial for unlocking the potential for women to empower themselves and support their families. I am proud and inspired to be associated with the work of TCB."

Co-founder and former Woolworths' head of financial management, Tracey Chambers said, "TCB's motto is don't give a woman a fish. Teach a woman to fish and teach her how to sell her fish. Empowering women to be self-reliant is at the core of what we do. Our objective is that each woman should earn at least R3 500 per month. Our Johannesburg branch is part of a larger expansion project to open a further six branches over the next three years, supporting over 1000 women a year."

It also extends support to NGOs in need of clothing. "We are continuously looking to build relationships with new suppliers that have excess product within their supply chains that could be sold by our traders," adds Chambers.

Meeting BBBEE targets

TCB helps meet the need for viable entrepreneurial opportunities amongst South Africa's underprivileged women and responds to the overwhelming demand by South African retailers and the business community for successful social enterprises to collaborate with to meet their BBBEE targets for enterprise development and socio-economic development.

However, according to Chambers, with the new revised BBBEE scorecard coming into effect from 11 October 2014, many companies are uncertain how to comply. "We now advise companies on how to earn points for enterprise development, socio-economic development and skills development to ensure their contributions are fully recognised under the revised codes. If the demand for services like this continues to grow, we will certainly look at opportunities to expand in to other provinces."

Speaking at the launch, Zinzi Mgolodela, Woolworths' head of transformation reiterated its support, "The company is proud to have been the founding supporter of TCB. We have contributed to women's empowerment and improved the lives of ordinary women through this innovative programme. It allows women to develop life skills and support their families and communities."

As a non-monetary partner, Edcon will also contribute to the skills development programme through its Growing Hope Campaign. Representing Edcon, Mercia Maserumule, CSI manager for transformation and corporate affairs said, "We are pleased that TCB not only gives unemployed women a chance at earning a living but also empowers them with skills to run their enterprises. The opening of the Johannesburg branch will enable them to extend their reach and empower more women. It is testament to the saying 'Educate a man and you educate one person; educate a woman and you educate a whole nation'."

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