A pas­sion for creat­ing jobs

With two busy sea­ports, a huge po­ten­tial work­force and amaz­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for en­trepreneurs, KwaZulu-Na­tal is open for busi­ness. Yvonne Grim­beek speaks to the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s Pat Mood­ley about their work in the prov­ince

CityPress - - Business -

Pat Mood­ley is pas­sion­ate about shoes and fab­ric be­cause they cre­ate jobs. Mood­ley is the re­gional man­ager of the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC) in KwaZulu-Na­tal and while footwear and fab­ric are among his pas­sions, his big­gest mo­ti­va­tion is a pas­sion for his prov­ince to suc­ceed. The KwaZulu-Na­tal IDC of­fice is one of the most suc­cess­ful re­gional of­fices in the coun­try. The of­fice is the sec­ond-busiest of­fice in terms of trans­ac­tions, beaten only by the cor­po­ra­tion’s head of­fice in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­trepreneurs

KwaZulu-Na­tal is truly the prov­ince with all in­dus­tries, and the IDC in the re­gion tries to cap­i­talise on this.

“This is a di­ver­si­fied prov­ince that comes with a num­ber of in­dus­tries, from tex­tiles, agro-pro­cess­ing, tourism, chem­i­cals to the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try,” says Mood­ley.

One of the prov­ince’s big­gest eco­nomic driv­ers is the Port of Dur­ban, which is the largest in the south­ern hemi­sphere and among the top 50 busiest ports in the world.

There is also a sea­port at Richards Bay, and th­ese two ports make it at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial im­port and ex­port en­trepreneurs.

“Also, don’t for­get the weather – it’s very good,” says Mood­ley.

Chal­lenges to over­come

“The IDC’s man­date is to cre­ate jobs and we need to fund more busi­nesses that do just that.

“Cloth­ing and footwear are two ar­eas that have low cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, but high job cre­ation,” said Mood­ley.

“My re­spon­si­bil­ity is to find th­ese busi­nesses so that we can fund them and in­crease the IDC’s foot­print and to stim­u­late the econ­omy.

“We proac­tively go out to meet with stake­hold­ers. I look at what the op­por­tu­ni­ties are and then try to get all the stake­hold­ers [gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try] to­gether to cap­i­talise on th­ese. We also in­volve other fi­nanciers be­cause to­gether we can make it work.”

The KwaZulu-Na­tal of­fice’s suc­cess grows out of the re­la­tion­ships it has forged with gov­ern­ment, pri­vate busi­nesses and clients since its in­cep­tion. One of its more valu­able part­ners is in the South African re­tail space. Be­cause of this part­ner­ship, a num­ber of the IDC’s tex­tile clients have be­come sup­pli­ers to a South African re­tail cloth­ing giant.

The work the KwaZulu-Na­tal IDC of­fice has put into its re­la­tion­ships has not gone un­no­ticed.

In 2013, the of­fice re­ceived the Part­ner­ships Award at the FNB KwaZulu-Na­tal Top Busi­ness Port­fo­lio Awards. It won along­side ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions such as Ton­gaat-Hulett, Mr Price and Coro­brik.

Ex­cit­ing projects

We go back to shoes and tex­tiles, be­cause th­ese are the projects that lie close to Mood­ley’s heart.

While South Africa’s tex­tile in­dus­try has seen a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline since the early 2000s as a re­sult of in­creas­ing global com­pe­ti­tion, gov­ern­ment, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the IDC, is try­ing to re­sus­ci­tate this jobs-rich in­dus­try.

“Tex­tiles, cloth­ing and footwear are my pas­sion. It is heart­warm­ing to see our in­vest­ment cre­ate per­ma­nent jobs.

“If one per­son has a job, you are feed­ing five to seven peo­ple per house­hold.”

One of the rea­sons tex­tiles has had a resur­gence in South Africa is be­cause im­ports from the East are no longer cheap.

Pro­duc­tion costs have in­creased and the turn­around time for high fash­ion items can be any­thing up to three months, and lo­cal re­tail­ers want it faster.

“Lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers can re­spond more quickly to th­ese high fash­ion re­quire­ments, and their turn­around is much quicker.”

Mood­ley says large com­pa­nies are tend­ing to move to lo­cally pro­duced goods if the qual­ity and price are right.

“If South African con­sumers were more con­scious about buy­ing lo­cal, it would have a ma­jor im­pact, we would cre­ate more jobs and the stan­dard of liv­ing would go up.”

An ex­am­ple of the IDC’s com­mit­ment to the tex­tile in­dus­try is Mah­longwa Cloth­ing In­dus­tries (MCI).

Sit­u­ated in Umko­maas, a ru­ral area on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Na­tal, MCI is a fam­ily-owned busi­ness that was es­tab­lished in 1986.

The firm is a sup­plier of a full range of prod­ucts, in­clud­ing work­wear, cor­po­rate wear and per­sonal pro­tec­tive wear to gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and paras­tatals.

MCI ap­proached the IDC for fund­ing at a time when the busi­ness de­cided to move from a cut-make-and-trim op­er­a­tion to a fully fledged fac­tory.

In 2014, MCI – through the IDC – was granted fund­ing un­der the Pro­duc­tion In­cen­tive Pro­gramme.

This pro­gramme funds tex­tile busi­nesses to in­vest in new tech­nolo­gies and equip­ment to achieve higher ef­fi­cien­cies.

Eresh Bhoora, CEO of MCI, said this much-needed fi­nan­cial in­jec­tion has opened up more busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for MCI, and it has been able to use the funds for the pro­cure­ment of more raw ma­te­ri­als, trim­mings, em­ploy­ment of new staff and the main­te­nance of a good cash flow.

Kwazulu-Na­tal is one of three prov­inces that ac­count for the lion’s share of ac­tiv­ity in South Africa’s tex­tile in­dus­try.

The KZN Cloth­ing and Tex­tiles Clus­ter es­ti­mates that the in­dus­try ac­counts for be­tween 60 000 and 80 000 jobs.

MCI is the third-big­gest em­ployer in the Umko­maas area and its sur­rounds.

“Be­fore the IDC fund­ing, we had about 130 staff mem­bers. We now em­ploy around 180 peo­ple and hope­fully, as we start grow­ing, we will in­crease this num­ber,” said Bhoora.

Agro-pro­cess­ing is another area of fo­cus for the IDC in KwaZulu-Na­tal, and their in­volve­ment with Ethek­wini Cheese – a start-up en­tity that was set up in 2016 by the Dixon fam­ily to man­u­fac­ture value-added, in­no­va­tive sub­sti­tute and func­tional cheese prod­ucts – is one of many ex­cit­ing new projects for the cor­po­ra­tion.

The share­hold­ers of Ethek­wini Cheese are Si­mon and Anthony Dixon and Ntombizodwa Ch­eryl Cagi. The com­pany is the only one of its kind in South Africa to make this type of cheese.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween nat­u­ral cheese prod­ucts and cheese sub­sti­tutes is that veg­etable oil is used for sub­sti­tute prod­ucts as an al­ter­na­tive to but­ter fat.

The Dixon fam­ily has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in this mar­ket, which has led to the de­ci­sion of es­tab­lish­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant.

Part of what they are pas­sion­ate about is the em­pow­er­ment of lo­cal work­ers, es­pe­cially women, and Cagi, be­ing well-versed in the cheese busi­ness, was a good fit for this part­ner­ship.

They have a proven track record for the same busi­ness model in the UK and US with Kraft Foods and Meadow Cheese, knowl­edge of the world mar­ket, raw ma­te­rial sup­ply and prices, and knowl­edge of the South African mar­ket based on pre­vi­ous test­ing of the mar­ket via im­ports.

The com­pany sup­plies its prod­uct to food man­u­fac­tur­ers, the food ser­vice in­dus­try and pizza com­pa­nies.

Ethek­wini Cheese in num­bers:

Jobs cre­ated: 94 30% of the com­pany is owned by a black woman This project is re­ported by City Press and sup­ported by the IDC

COAST IS CLEAR Pat Mood­ley, the re­gional man­ager of the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion in KwaZulu-Na­tal

PHOTO: ISAAC MOFOKENG

SUC­CESS The busy Sacks Pack­ag­ing floor

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