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Adelaide-based sewing business seizes opportunities

Home Infrastructure Environmental – Green Industries Adelaide-based sewing business seizes opportunities

SMALL and rural towns all across South Africa have yet to recover from the fallout of the pandemic, and some have been battling for even longer. As far back as 2017, the former Premier of the Eastern Cape called for the revitalisation of small and rural towns across the country in a bid to revive local economies.

Economists and agricultural experts have warned about the declining quality of life and lack of economic opportunities in these areas, pointing a finger at poor infrastructure and a lack of new private investment in these regions.

Heeding the call to create opportunities for employment in these regions, Enel Green Power (EGP) South Africa saw an opportunity to partner with D’Bongs Trading, a small local sewing and laundry business in the rural farming town of Adelaide in the Eastern Cape, founded by Ntombodidi Dilima.

Initiated in 2014, D’Bongs Trading has grown from a one-woman operation to now employing an additional six employees. Dilima says that the assistance from Enel Green Power has not only helped her and her family, but created employment and financial stability for her employees and their families.

“With the support of Enel Green Power, the opportunities for growth have increased to such an extent that I intend on employing an additional two workers later in the year once I have a firm grip on my business’s cost structures and profitability,” she explains.

Adelaide, with a population of just over 15,000 people, according to the latest census data, faced close to 70% unemployment as a result of the drought the province experienced in recent years.

“There was no business in Adelaide that manufactured uniforms, and most of the local community had to travel to nearby towns to buy uniforms. With many of these businesses now having closed down, D’Bongs Trading stepped up to the plate and provided them with the uniforms they required without the need to travel far,” adds Dilima.

With Mercedes-Benz’s East London plant being one of Dilima’s biggest clients, D’Bongs Trading was fortunate to obtain a five-year contract to sew covers for car parts such as bumpers and other smaller parts to protect the parts during transportation.

“This partnership has benefited us greatly, with the volume of work across both the laundry and sewing services resulting in a 50% growth in turnover and revenue,” she says.

Apart from its partnership with Mercedes-Benz, D’Bongs Trading also produces uniforms for two pre-schools and two primary schools, while also making tracksuits for sports days for these schools. In addition, Dilima and her team have produced uniforms for several church denominations in Adelaide.

Enel Green Power, which prides itself on assisting small businesses and helping them achieve sustainable growth, provided Dilima and her business with sewing and embroidery machines and further training.

“The funding of sewing machines enabled us to secure the Mercedes-Benz sewing contract and we see it as a new venture creation and a road to offer even more to our expanding client list,” adds Dilima.

The training that Dilima and D’bongs Trading have received has enabled her and the team to enhance their skills and provide enhanced service and products to customers, with Dilima suggesting that the company is now able to meet local needs with local resources, thereby providing a boost to the economic development of the rural town.

The additional training and sewing and embroidery machines have allowed D’Bongs Trading to perform more advanced tasks on a larger scale and enabled Dilima to expand her business beyond just employing more workers.

Dilima aspires to open a permanent shop, fitted with shelving and other display paraphernalia, as customers currently visit the location where products are sewn. Furthermore, she plans on purchasing an industrial embroidery machine as she is poised to bid for a contract to sew uniforms for the Mercedes-Benz factory.

“While it’s a decision that I need to consider carefully as the material is heavy and costly to acquire, I’m a firm believer that with the right dedication, commitment and careful planning, anything is possible,” concludes Dilima.

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