Self-employment is a solution to the unemployment crisis and non-profit organisation, The Clothing Bank, has been helping thousands of jobless women and men to become micro-business owners through two programmes. The Clothing Bank and Appliance Banks programmes have been running since the organisation was launched in 2010, and applications are still open in some areas of the country.
The Clothing Bank programme for unemployed mothers and The Appliance Bank programme for unemployed men, train individuals to run informal small businesses selling clothes, and repairing and selling appliances donated to the group by national retailers. Clothing Bank co-founder Tracey Gilmore told Vutivi News that beneficiaries made an estimated profit of R60-million with their micro-enterprises in 2020.
“When we started the programme, we realised that there are not many jobs to link people with,” she said. “Woolworth’s joined the programme and supplied clothing for us, and over time we realised that we needed to create a more holistic programme.” Gilmore said the aim was to teach people that they were worthy and had the potential to improve their communities through self-employment opportunities.
“We believe that we are creating a circular economy by taking what would have ended up in landfills and using them as opportunities for the programme participants to start businesses,” she said. “People are starting to see that they can run their own businesses, and this is important especially for the single mothers because this gives them that flexibility to run their businesses and balance home life.”
The two-year training programme which admits five intakes for the Clothing Bank initiative and three intakes for the Appliance Bank programme, teaches participants basic business skills and financial education. The programme approaches the development of women and men holistically.
“We understand that you have to engage the head, the heart and the hands to create a healthy small business. We have an extensive support system that includes coaching, mentoring and counselling. The objective is that each person should earn at least R4000 per month,” said Gilmore. Applications for the programme in Cape Town and Johannesburg are closed. However, they are still open in Paarl, Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Those who are keen to participate can apply at www.theclothingban.org.za