“This project has changed our lives in a big way. We now have the opportunity to work and run our own businesses.”
The company was founded in 1997 by Algerian national Nicole-Marie Iresch, who recognised the potential of township women after being approached by some looking for employment on a trip to Cape Town. She was touched by these encounters and so she started acting as an advisor and support to women wanting to start their own sewing co-operative.
Today, Township has set up a fair-trade business relationship with seven independent co-operatives in Manenberg and Khayelitsha, namely Singalakha, Somila, Masizakhe, Voorspoed, Saambou, Sophumelela and Simunye.
These co-operatives employ women from and help them develop sewing and business skills while giving them the opportunity to work within their own communities, so less of their income is spent on transport costs. According to Valerie Wessels, a worker at Saambou in Manenberg, she has gained many skills and is now able to explore her creativity while providing for her family. “This project has changed our lives in a big way. We now have the opportunity to work and run our own businesses.”
Tina Matsimella is the Production Assistant at Township. She says that she is passionate about the company’s cause, “I realise that we cannot depend on the government or just community leaders to help improve our society. We all have our part to play.”
She added that the company will continue to promote Fair Trade in the textile and fashion industry – one that is synonymous with low wages and the abuse of workers. “Doing good is truly good business and I'm glad to be a witness and part to its growth.”
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