FROM START-UP TO SCALE-UP: SMEs DISCOVER WHAT BIG CLOTHING AND TEXTILE CUSTOMERS ARE LOOKING FOR

FROM START-UP TO SCALE-UP: SMEs DISCOVER WHAT BIG CLOTHING AND TEXTILE CUSTOMERS ARE LOOKING FOR
KwaZulu-Natal Clothing & Textile Cluster Origin8 workshop

On Tuesday, 21st May, over 40 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the clothing, textile, footwear, and leather (CTFL) sector gathered for the KwaZulu-Natal Clothing & Textile Cluster Origin8 workshop. This free workshop was facilitated through the KZNCTC –  a public-private partnership between eThekwini Municipality and clothing, textile, and retail firms in KZN – offering ambitious SMEs a rare opportunity to learn how to secure major customers and scale their operations.

According to Kyle Ballard, Head of Accelerators for the KwaZulu-Natal Clothing & Textile Cluster (KZNCTC), the KZNCTC Origin8 workshop was the first of its kind and offered valuable insights into the expectations of big, national customers, including what they need from high-performing suppliers and their requirements.

In addition to the SMEs learning how to craft their value proposition based on the 6Cs – Commitment, Capability, Competitiveness, Compliance, Capacity, and Cash – they were offered a unique opportunity to hear directly from the ‘horse’s mouth’. In a panel discussion, leading retailers and manufacturers, including Woolworths, The Foschini Group, Ackermans, Mr Price Apparel, and Pepkor Speciality, shared invaluable insights on what they look for in suppliers. “These industry leaders, who are deeply committed to localisation and the growth of the CTFL sector, unpacked the importance of meeting high standards in terms of price, quality, reliability, flexibility, logistics, and innovation, as well as the necessity of fulfilling various compliance requirements,” Ballard explains.

Attendees also had the chance to network, engage with potential new customers, and connect with other industry stakeholders, building relationships that could drive future growth.

The “icing on top” was the fact that all SMEs in attendance received free associate membership to the KZNCTC. This membership provides access to learning from world-class manufacturers and extensive networking opportunities within the sector. “This membership will unlock further resources and support that can help these businesses scale,” says Ballard.

Supported by the eThekwini Municipality through the KZN Clothing & Textile Cluster, the Origin8 programme demonstrates a strong commitment to transforming and localising the CTFL sector. Nelisiwe Magubane, Programme Manager for the CTFL sector at the Economic Development Unit of the eThekwini Municipality, noted that the programme aimed to help SMEs gain market access and thrive in a competitive environment. “The workshop was a great success and I believe that we’ve provided practical knowledge and skills that the SMEs can apply immediately,” she says.

And, Ballard agrees. “The KZNCTC Origin8 event has empowered attending SMEs with the knowledge and tools needed to meet the demands of big customers and achieve sustainable growth. This event has laid a solid foundation for these enterprises to evolve from start-ups to scale-ups in the dynamic CTFL industry,” he concludes.