Newsletter No 24/01 July 2022
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Chanel-backed biotech firm aims to sew up sustainable fashion
By Mimosa Spencer
Evolved By Nature, a biotech firm backed by French fashion company Chanel, said on Thursday it has raised $120m in a financing round, adding new investors including one of Canada’s biggest pension funds.
The Massachusetts-based firm, founded in 2013, plans to use the late-stage funding to step up production of a silk protein alternative to petrochemicals in skincare and fabrics.
Evolved By Nature bills its “activated silk” product as natural protein from silkworm cocoons, in liquid form.
Fashion companies are scrambling to improve their environmental track records to meet UN sustainable development goals, according to a recent report by Business of Fashion.
Evolved By Nature makes biodegradable coatings used in luxury handbags and fast-fashion apparel including sports bras and underwear, selling to leather tanneries, fabric mills and fashion labels like Anya Hindmarch.
The coatings are expected to generate 30% of its sales by the end of 2024.
Coatings on leather serve as waterproofing, while treatments for polyester and nylon serve to wick moisture.
“The consumer is catching on to petrochemical-free skincare,” Greg Altman, co-founder and CEO of Evolved By Nature, said.
“We went after the largest-volume fabric produced — and how do we get chemical coatings off of the fabric,” he said, explaining the focus on polyester and nylon.
While tanners and brands in the leather industry are jointly seeking to develop natural products, they can be a harder sell to the textiles industry, said Altman.
“In textiles, the conversation is about performance and price and not about sustainability,” he said. “We have to price competitively to petrochemicals.”
On skincare, which will make up the bulk of revenues, the company plans to develop products to sell directly to consumers later in 2022, in addition to sales to large consumer products groups, Altman said.
The funding round was led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and Senator Investment Group. Other backers include Chanel and the private Chanel-linked investment firm Mousse Partners as well as US investor Jeffrey Vinik, who previously managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund.
Small business urged to apply for support
Minister of Small Business Development, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has encouraged small business in townships and rural areas to apply for support through the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (TREP).
“We are deliberate in addressing unemployment and poverty but we also have a responsibility to grow the economy,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
Addressing the SheTradesZA Youth Seminar on Wednesday in Pretoria, the Minister said the maximum value of TREP stands at R1 million, with one component being a grant and the other a loan.
“The TREP is a dedicated programme to transform and integrate opportunities in townships and rural areas into productive business ventures. The focus is to create platforms that provide business support infrastructure and a regulatory environment that enables entrepreneurs to thrive,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
Township or rural-based entrepreneurs can apply for support, including funding, through the common application template from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Owners of the business must be South African nationals.
The following schemes are available for qualifying entrepreneurs:
Small-Scale Bakeries and confectioneries support programme
Autobody repairers and mechanics support programme (as well as small and independent auto-spares shops and informal automotive entrepreneurs)
Butcheries support programme
Clothing, leather and textiles support programme
Personal care support programme
Spaza-shop support programme
Tshisanyama and cooked food support programme
Registration can be done on https://smmesa.gov.za/ and complete the information required.
In an effort to ensure the funding processes for small business is seamless and user friendly, government is working toward merging entities for small businesses to form one agency.
“We are currently in the process of merging SEFA and SEDA as well as the Co-operative Banks Development Agency.
“As many of you noted, during his State of the Nation Address, President Cyirl Ramaphosa announced the appointment of a red tape Tsar, to assist us to coordinate between stakeholders, to make it easier to start and conduct business and to grow our economy,” the Minister said.
Government continues to prioritise small businesses
Ndabeni-Abrahams said through various initiatives, government has assisted the small business sector to grow and create much needed employment.
“The Department of Small Business Development and SEDA formed a partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC), in order to bring the SheTrades programme to South Africa, and create a SheTradesZA hub.
“The programme aims to empower women-owned enterprises to trade locally, regionally, and internationally. The hub supports strengthening the business skills and competitiveness of at least 10,000 South African women entrepreneurs over a four-year period,” the Minister said.
Nearly 3000 South African women entrepreneurs are already registered on the SheTradesZA Hub and receive free e-learning and capacity building.
The SheTradesZA Hub will also improve access to investment for women-owned enterprises and promote business opportunities.
“The department and SEDA’s involvement in the She-Trades Hub demonstrates our commitment to developing and ensuring economic empowerment of women in South Africa.
“We also have the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), which is a youth start-up support programme intended to stimulate the establishment and growth of youth-owned businesses, promote digital skills, grow the economy and foster job creation,” the Minister said.
She said the R2 billion SEFA funding envelope will see over R200 million disbursed in each province and slightly more for the poorer rural provinces such as Limpopo, the Free State, the North West, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, and the Northern Cape.
“This R2 billion is expected to support 84 831 small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) and co-operatives creating 104 968 jobs,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said. – SAnews.gov.za
Youth LaunchPad – Craft and Design Institute (CDI) to place over 200 interns in creative SMMEs
The CDI has extended the deadline for applications from businesses for a new round of its Youth LaunchPad project, a unique programme that places subsidised interns in SMMEs in the creative industries to support increased capacity and pave for the way for new job creation.
This represents a great opportunity for business owners nationally to bring in key skills needed into your businesses, in a subsidised manner, which can help you achieve greater sustainability and growth.
The CDI Youth LaunchPad programme places unemployed matriculants and graduates in SMMEs; it supports work readiness, on-the-job and skills development training; as well as supports business owners to develop the systems and HR capacity to manage staff. The CDI first ran the Youth LaunchPad in 2019/20, which created 149 work-opportunities for youth in 92 businesses. The deadline has been extended to 15 July 2022. Apply at https://www.thecdi.org.za/YouthLaunchpad
Mauritius, Madagascar to develop synergy to boost textile exports
Mauritius and Madagascar, both island nations in the Indian Ocean, are looking to synergise their capacities to boost textile exports. Recently, ministers of both countries emphasised that their countries are not competitors and should complement each other in the textile business. Both nations have strong ties in textile and other sectors.
A Malagasy delegation of industry representatives and officials recently visited Mauritius to discuss various issues to boost their trade and commerce activities. Following a meeting with the delegation in Port Louis, Mauritian minister of international trade, Alan Ganoo, said that there is a need to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two nations, more so given the current global situation.
He observed that the two countries are not competitors but are rather complementary and it is therefore necessary to continue to develop the existing synergy at the level of industrialisation and textile.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2019, Madagascar has made available to Mauritius some 80 hectares of land in Moramanga for the setting-up of a textile centre.
Mauritius had exported apparel worth $357.668 million to the world during April 2021-March 2022. The annual export of home textiles was $6.312 million in the same period. Apparel export from Mauritius was $99.189 million in fourth quarter 2021 and $112.678 million in third quarter 2021. Quarterly export of home textiles from Mauritius was between $1-2 million since fourth quarter 2020, according to Fibre2Fashion’s market insight tool TexPro
Madagascar had exported apparel worth $838.141 million during April 2021-March 2022. The US, France, South Africa, Germany and United Kingdom were the top five geographies for the export. Madagascar had exported 75 per cent of its apparels to these countries. The export of home textiles was $6.052 million in the same period, as per TexPro. F2F
Longest fashion shoes
The longest widely-adopted shoe style was the poulaine (also known as the “piked shoe” or “crakow”). These shoes, which were worn by both men and women for more than a century between around 1340 and the 1460s, featured a long slender point which extended from the toe of the shoe. The longest surviving examples measure around 45 cm (18 inches) in length, but contemporary accounts suggest that at the peak of the craze fashionable Europeans may have worn shoes even longer than that (up to 24 inches).
Writers mention fashionable young men having to reinforce the points of their shoes with whalebone or support them with lengths of silk cord tied to a garter. The shoes were considered such a vain extravagance that they were banned in Paris in 1396, but they persisted as fashionable items elsewhere until 1463, when Edward IV of England passed a sumptuary law prohibiting shoes with points that extended more than two inches beyond the toe. This seems to have finally ended the fashion, and they disappeared entirely from the feet of the wealthy by the 1470s.
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