The establishment of the Mamande Chemical Manufacturing and Laundry Services Primary Cooperative is a typical example of entrepreneurship. In 2001, a group of Mdantsane community members in the Eastern Cape province spotted a gap in the local market – which was a lack of low cost and locally produced chemical products such as dish washing solutions, fabric softeners and car wax.
The five person driven co-operative was started with a R100 seed funding by each member. Today, the cooperative have turnover of almost R700 000 and a contract worth more than R400 000 per year to offer laundry services within the Amathole District. The manufacturing side of the co-operative develops and retail chemical products such as dish washing liquids, fabric softeners, hand cleaning liquids, sun pine, pine gel, car wash and wax, and carpet cleaners.
Mamande was introduced to Seda services in 2009 by the Amathole District Municipality after the business experienced some challenges which were affecting its growth and development.
The co-operative had cash flow challenges as monies for services rendered or products offered to government was constantly delayed. Lack of proper investment in the business also meant insufficient machinery to increase productivity, and also limited scope to bid for large government laundry contracts. The company also did not have verification or approval from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for its products, another hindrance to receiving government business. No SABS classification means higher risk of chemical fault and potential liabilities.
Seda’s intervention in the business include successful assistance with funding applications to the Department of Trade and Industry’s Co-operative Incentive Scheme (which approved R300 000), Seda’s Technology Transfer Fund (approved R600 000) and Local and Regional Economic Fund (which approved R1,6 million).
Armed with more than R2,5 million in capital injection, Mamande invested in new laundry machinery and equipment which give a jab to the business’ dream of competing for large laundry contracts. Further investment was also made on the chemical manufacturing side of the business. A new reception area was incorporated into the business premises to boost the company’s image.
Seda also linked the company with its incubation unit – CHEMIN – to assist with the management development side of the business. This partnership continues today alongside that of Productivity SA which is also guiding Mamande. Job creation opportunities are also increasing with the co-operative now boasting 14 full time employees.
Mamande is a leading light to government’s “vuku’zenzele” efforts of driving community development and poverty eradication, and Seda’s involvement further cement its critical role in guiding small businesses.