Siblings shatter perceptions about rural economies by establishing a thriving toilet paper factory in a small Eastern Cape village.
Tankiso Mosie, 24, is the proud co-founder of Red Ribbon, a toilet paper brand he started at the age of 19 when freshly graduated from a vocational training institution.
Mosie was earning a living through informal trading but was determined to find a sustainable business idea that would be his ticket into the formal economy. He hit on toilet paper because it is a necessity in every household.
He and his sister Matisetso Mosie started their business from a garage in their home in 2014.
Today, Red Ribbon has 14 employees and a factory that manufactures 10 000 toilet rolls a day.
At the recent launch of their factory, situated near King Williams Town in the rural Eastern Cape, MEC for Economic Development Sakhumzi Somyo commended the young founders of the company for their initiative, which he said would help develop the economy of the village.
The siblings’ hard work paid off when they got over R2.5 million from the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (DEDEAT) through the local and Regional Economic Development Fund. The cash was used to build the manufacturing facility and buy equipment and a vehicle.
The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) helped with branding and buying some of the machines while the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) helped with computers.
“Initially, there were five of us including my sister and three employees. We started working from home. Now we have 14 employees and 10 of them are full time. We supply Nicks Food SuperSpar in King Williams Town and Georgious SuperSpar in Alice and Fort Beaufort. Weirs Cash & Carry has shown interest and we have also approached Pick n Pay,” said Mosie.
Red Ribbon manufactures various ranges from recycled to virgin single-ply and double-ply. “We have the capacity to produce 30 000 toilet rolls a day,” said Mosie, adding that his immediate goal was to grow the business.
Apart from the DEDEAT grant, Red Ribbon received R48 000 from the NYDA, while the support from Seda was of a non-financial kind.
Calls to support light manufacturing
Speaking at the launch of the factory, Somyo called on government and communities in the Eastern Cape to support locally-manufactured brands. He commended the founders of the company for changing the economic face of their village.
“Nowhere in our province have we heard of a factory opening in a rural village employing people from the rural communities. We have a product we can call our own and all of us should support this initiative. Somyo said the LRED Fund was focused on involving local people in the development of their local economies through opportunities for economic growth and employment creation.
He said Mosie siblings broke barriers because by starting Red Ribbon in a rural area, they have changed perceptions of rural people about the economies of their areas.
“Red Ribbon has been started in a village by young people who dared to dream big in sectors where others have failed and for that we salute their resolve and determination. Their efforts have effectively taken 14 members of this community out of unemployment and poverty,” Somyo said.