Inspiring Women to walk towards Opportunity
The co-operatives are at the heart of all that we do at Township. We watch the members begin as trainees and blossom into professional businesswomen, running their own show, making their own decisions and enjoying their success.
Each co-operative chooses their own name and have their own style and atmosphere: Seven independent co-operatives currently have a fair-trade business relationship with Township Patterns: Singalakha, Somila, Masizakhe, Voorspoed, Saambou, Sophumelela and Simunye.
All co-op women come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and started with basic or no sewing skills or business experience. They now work in a professional and safe environment within their township communities. Each salary has a positive impact on around 5-6 people.
All co-ops are strongly encouraged to seek contracts with other fair-trade business partners.
Our co-ops are located in underdeveloped urban areas near Cape Town, in Manenberg on the Cape flats, Khayelitsha in the South East and Westlake. The workshops are near or in the living areas of their members, so that the women can work close to their families and not spend too much time and a substantial portion of their income on transport.
The co-ops are fully self-governed by their members and their board, made up of a chairlady, a secretary and a treasurer, is responsible for the groups’ affairs, ranging from operational, financial and social.
Sophumelela – We shall succeed
My name is Patricia Rwayimani, I am the Chairperson of Sophumelela Sewing Co-operative. Sophumelela is a group of eleven women based in Khayelitsha, Western Cape. We are making shopping bags and conference bags of very good quality. We recruited unemployed women of Khayelitsha, trying to minimise the high rate of unemployment that South Africa is facing. We hope that we can change the lives of many people in the area with the support that we can get from you buying our products, we believe that our dream can come true.
Voorspoed – Success
The group was established on September 4th in 2007. It started with five ladies making tracksuits for schools. William Kias was the person who introduced us to A.S.B Non-Profit and Township Patterns, setting up a meeting with Nicole-Marie. She then came to look at our premises and from there decided to give us some work. We thought to name the place Voorspoed. As time went by the group became bigger and we had to look for an even bigger space with the help of the people of Township.
Saambou – Building together
As a group of women we started a co-operative out of a member’s house with only three machines. We worked for 12 months on a volunteer basis, making all kinds of clothing to sustain ourselves. We got the contact details of A.S.B Non-Profit from two of our members. We made an appointment to meet with them, after several meetings we successfully secured a partnership with them and are still working together. We are today a registered business.
Singalakha – We can build this
Singalakha means “we can build the future”. We are a group of eight black women who come from different backgrounds but want to grow and develop our skills in sewing and handwork. Our mission is to stand and do for ourselves, as one day the former president Mr Thabo Mbeki said “Vukuzenzele”(wake-up and do it yourself). We want to provide employment within ourselves within a democratically controlled enterprise. To provide our members with access to the necessary resources and machinery to engage in sewing projects. To ensure that the range, standard and quality of the products remains high.
As we know: women are the backbone of the country.
Somila – We will stand
Somila co-operative is a growing business that provides production of bags to its co-operative. The co-operative started in 2007 with four members. The number of members has increased to nine because of the demand in production. We received training that taught us how to make bags. After we completed the training we moved to Khayelitsha to start our own business and register our business as a co-operative. A.S.B Non-Profit has helped us a lot, and now we are well known and we hope we will get sponsorship from big companies.
Masizakhe – Let’s Build Ourselves
Masizakhe, founded in 2009, is an independent fair trade cooperative made up of 5 women in the small township of Westlake just outside of Cape Town. These 5 women took the opportunity to further their knowledge by deciding to respond to a community call for training 3 years ago. These 5 women completed a comprehensive technical and skills training through Township and now produce fair trade shopping and conference bags for Township clients, one such client being the South African Reserve Bank.
Simunye – We are one
Our co-op Simunye graduated in August 2010 with nine members and a colourful and cheerful graduation party was held at our Blackheath premises. We are very excited to get started as a business after so many months of training and to grow our business from strength to strength.
Social Impact Survey