A female-owned cooperative is looking to improve the economy of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape.
Sikhona cooperative is a clothes manufacturing company that focuses on designing school uniform and ethnic clothes for children. The company, established in 2007 by five women in the area, also trains aspiring clothing manufacturers.
Sikhona Managing Director Khosi Jayiya said the cooperative initially designed ethnic clothes for men and women however they saw a gap in the market and decided to focus on children’s wear and school uniform.
“The beauty of our work is that children will always need clothes and new school uniform every year,” she added.
As a qualified fashion designer, Jayiya used to own a boutique store but decided to partner with four other women from her area to open the cooperative.
“It was difficult in the beginning as we had different visions about the direction that we wanted our cooperative to take. We have fallen many times but we never stopped rising and now our business is starting to grow,” she said.
The high rate of unemployment in their small town encourages them to work harder so that they can do their bit in contributing to creating jobs for people in their community.
The company has so far created five permanent jobs for women in her area.
“We started as a small business but now we have grown and own a factory, which was made possible by Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality,” she said.
The 371 square metres factory is used for manufacturing clothes while other sections of the factory are used for NQF level 1 clothing manufacturing classes, offered by members of the cooperative.
Jayiya said the cooperative has already trained about 20 people.
“Our goal is to have a vibrant and successful business that contributes to the development of our community. We want to improve the economic conditions in our small town, starting with ourselves and those around us,” she said.
She said the company has clients from all over the country and caters for diverse cultural and ethnic groups.