Amarula bot­tle tas­sel deal is bear­ing fruit for en­ter­pris­ing Som­er­set West women

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - WEEK­END ARGUS RE­PORTER

THEY’RE such a rare del­i­cacy that herds of ele­phant travel vast dis­tances to find them.

Now, marula are bear­ing fruit for a group of Som­er­set West women, who have set up their own busi­ness sup­ply­ing the yel­low braided-and-knot­ted tas­sels at­tached to all Amarula bot­tles.

The Hand­work Hub was es­tab­lished in Jan­uary and de­liv­ered its first con­sign­ment of the tas­sels in April to adorn bot­tles of the cream liqueur, which is sold all over the world.

The 24 women have set­tled into new premises in Asla Park in Som­er­set West, se­cure in the knowl­edge they now have a re­li­able in­come and a stake in the com­pany’s fu­ture.

Pre­vi­ously, they made the tas­sels as part of a com­mu­nity project and were paid for each one they pro­duced.

It meant their work­ing hours were flex­i­ble, but their in­come fluc­tu­ated too.

“All these years as a com­mu­nity project they had no for­mal payslip and it means a lot to them to know that they will be re­ceiv­ing one again next month, and the month af­ter that,” said Toni Rimell, part­ner and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor.

The Hand­work Hub is a ma­jor­ity black-owned, wholly woman-owned busi­ness that sup­plies Amarula-maker Dis­tell, hav­ing pro­duced in­ven­to­ries un­der con­tract of al­most 2.5 mil­lion units.

“The fac­tory is beau­ti­ful and the ladies are com­fort­able, but more im­por­tantly than their phys­i­cal com­fort is their psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing, and that is where I have seen the big­gest dif­fer­ence,” said Rimell.

The most sig­nif­i­cant as­pect of be­ing in part­ner­ship with the women is “be­ing a part of some­thing that is big­ger than us”, she added.

“It is a learn­ing curve for all of us but we are ex­cited about the road ahead, and are grate­ful to Dis­tell for mak­ing it pos­si­ble,” said Rimell.

In ad­di­tion to de­vel­op­ing the en­ter­prise, Dis­tell pro­vided R2.7m in soft loans, helped to se­cure a proper and safe busi­ness premises, and ne­go­ti­ated a long-term off-take agree­ment.

In the few months since the busi­ness was es­tab­lished, Dis­tell has mi­grated 70% of the vol­umes of tas­sel pur­chases to the Hand­work Hub.

Ju­lia Mal­rasi, the Hand­work Hub su­per­vi­sor, re­ceived a Women’s Month boost when her ap­pli­ca­tion for a loan of R20 000 to ex­tend her house was ap­proved thanks to her more reg­u­lar in­come.

“My life is much eas­ier now that I get a payslip,” said Mal­rasi.

Known col­lo­qui­ally as the “Ele­phant Tree”, the marula features promi­nently in African folk­lore and is also known as the “Mar­riage Tree”, for its shel­ter and re­ported fer­til­ity pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties.

For the women of the Hand­work Hub, the work for Dis­tell is a per­fect match.

“Ev­ery time we see that yel­low tas­sel that is so em­blem­atic of the Amarula brand and res­onates with our con­sumers, we know that there is a proud team of women, pre­vi­ously with­out proper jobs and now the share­hold­ers of one of Dis­tell’s new­est, and in­deed most spe­cial, sup­pli­ers,” said James Wilkin­son, group gen­eral man­ager for busi­ness im­prove­ment at Dis­tell.

A part­ner­ship with Dis­tell has pro­vided a reg­u­lar in­come for Hand­work Hub work­ers, who make the tas­sels for Amarula bot­tles.

Yel­low braided tas­sels.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.