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Cooperative thrives  during pandemic

Written by More Matshediso

While starting a business or keeping one running can be difficult on your own, joining forces with others who share a common goal can bring about greater success.Thuso Motau is the Chairperson and Co-founder of Ipadts 33 Primary Cooperative Limited.

This was the case for Thuso Motau (37) from Mabopane in Pretoria, who is the Chairperson and Co-founder of Ipadts 33 Primary Cooperative Limited.

The cooperative was established in 2013, as part of the City of Tshwane’s Tshepo 10 000 programme.

Managed by the city’s Economic Development Unit, the programme aims to empower unemployed youth in Gauteng through skills development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy training, and by providing information about cooperatives and how they operate.

Motau says the initiative was launched at the perfect time, as she was unemployed and wanted to start a business. 

“I had no idea what cooperatives were, but the thorough and intensive information and training inspired my team members and I to give it our best shot. I learnt that working together with a group of individuals to achieve a common goal can lead to success,” she adds. 

The cooperative, which operates from the industrial site in Zone 15 in Ga-Rankuwa, provided water and sanitation services to the city from 2013 to 2016. “We fixed leaking taps and installed meter boxes, among other services. However, this was not sustainable,” says Motau.

The cooperative then decided to manufacture cleaning products, under the Mighty Superpower brand, which include dishwashing liquid, pine gel, regular bleach, hand soap, tile cleaner, car wash and wax, degreaser and floor polish.

Unlike many small businesses, Motau’s cooperative was not badly affected by the Coronavirus Disease pandemic. It actually boosted the business, which has created seven jobs.

“When the first national lockdown was announced sales skyrocketed as people and businesses needed cleaning products and hand wash soaps. We even introduced a hand and surface sanitiser and disinfecting services,” she adds.

During the 2018/19 financial year, the cooperative received a grant of just over R38 000 from the National Development Agency (NDA) to sustain jobs and expand its business operations and production capacity. It also received training in financial and conflict management, the Cooperative Legislative Act and project management.

“This equipped us with practical tools to run a professional business. We used some of the grant to buy equipment and improve our brand,” says Motau.

For more information about NDA funding for cooperatives, visit www.nda.org.za or call 011 018 5500.