Newsletter 25 of 2019

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           Newsletter No. 25                                                     5 July 2019

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Meet the mogul behind Vanessa Gounden

By Sizo Kaise

Successful entrepreneurship is simply about finding a way to monetise what you are already passionate about, says fashion mogul and owner of the boutique store D’Oré, Vanessa Gounden on her international eponymous juggernaut, the Vanessa Gounden London brand.

“Fashion has always resonated with me. It has the power to be a catalyst for change, every garment has the potential to push boundaries of fashion and art whilst inciting dialogue. Also, when you look good you feel good and this is the experience, I wanted to invoke in every woman who wears Vanessa Gounden. Designing clothes for confident; powerful women, was a natural fit for me,” Gounden says.

Vanessa Gounden is a woman’s luxury fashion label with global distribution. The line encompasses a range of casual, cocktail, formal and haute couture clothing.

Handcrafted in the finest luxurious fabrics, embellished with hand painted buttons, beading and embroidery, Gounden combines original artworks and photography to create highly visual contemporary individual prints. Her signature style which combines bold prints and patterns with innovative tailoring techniques, such as 3D layering fused with Gounden’s ebullient spirit, passion for social issues, love of art and innate creativity come together to give us what she calls “artivism”.

With a strong sense of citizenship and responsibility, Gounden is committed to uncovering and sponsoring new artists as well as train and employ craftsman, tailors and seamstresses in fine skills. Vanessa Gounden London has empowered over 300 people mostly in the manufacturing sector in South Africa and has its own atelier and print house.

“When we launched Vanessa Gounden in the United Kingdom back 2011, there were cynics who told us our brand would struggle on an international stage, but we pushed on anyway because our vision was bigger than their limits. In the same year, we bought our flagship boutique fashion store, D’Oré in Sandton City. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but eight years later we are still here having a blast and creating clothes that embrace the power of women,” Gounden says.

Artistry and techniques used in Vanessa Gounden London creations have revived textile skills and provided employment to both local and international artisans. In 2014, Gounden was awarded the Mbokodo Award from the South African Department of Arts and Culture for Design and Innovation in South Africa.

She says female-led businesses are continuing to grow in South Africa, despite 2018’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) statistics showing that only 6.2% of South African women take the leap into entrepreneurship.

“It is not just in South Africa either. You look at Silicon Valley in the States, Digital Innovation Hubs in Europe and within our own continent, more and more women are the powerhouses behind some of the newest, innovative start-ups and concept businesses. Women are either stepping up to lead big businesses or are creating their own empires in various industries, a true testament of the boundless phenomenon that is women.

Outside of the Vanessa Gounden brand, Gounden is also CEO and co-founder of the HolGoun Group, which has interests in Mining, Healthcare, Financial Services, Lifestyle & Leisure, Property, Music and Movie Production.

Having grown up under apartheid South Africa in Kwa Zulu Natal, Gounden intrinsically understands the emancipating power education can bring to young people and the nation at large.  The HolGoun Development Trust that has educated over 100 under-resourced students over the last seven years and donated reading material to children across the country.

“It is through books and the power of my imagination, I was spurred on to aspire, believing that anything is possible.  At Vanessa Gounden, we push beyond our own limits and embrace all things feminine. The bright and vibrant colours are a reflection of our passion and provocative narrative,” Gounden concludes.  Published in Fashion, Lifestyle, Trends

City of Cape Town moves to mend frayed garment and textile industry

By Marvin Charles

The City of Cape Town is on a mission to revive the Cape garment and textile industry that was once one of the leading job creators in the province. File picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town – The City of Cape Town is on a mission to revive the Cape garment and textile industry that was once one of the leading job creators in the province.

Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said his department was committed to reviving the clothing sector in Cape Town.

“The clothing and textiles industry continues to be a significant employer in the Cape Town economy, employing more than 23600 individuals, which makes this the second largest employer within the manufacturing sector,” Vos said.

He said the clothing and textiles industry was also a significant contributor to Cape Town’s exports, with clothing and textile products totalling R4.4 billion in 2017.

“Given the challenging economic climate, this is a figure we should all be proud of, but more importantly we must find ways to expand and retain this sector. We’re committed to growing this industry. My department will provide resources to assist with stimulating this sector.”

Vos said his department would be directing its funding, too.

South Africa is fighting to revive its frayed clothing industry, once a crucial provider of jobs, as a flood of cheap imports forces factories to lay off workers. It was once the economic lifeblood of many small regional towns, but the abundance of cheaper products from China has led to the loss of nearly two-thirds of the sector’s jobs over the past two decades.

The arrival of giant international “fast fashion” brands such as H&M and Zara ignited a battle fought by South African clothing manufacturers.

Fast fashion retailers, which largely source their products from outside South Africa, have aggressively expanded in the country, denting sales of locally-made garments.

Wesgro welcomed the City’s efforts to grow the textile industry. “The key obstacles to this sector are cheap imports and an inability for us to develop niche markets. We’re are not a low cost producer,” said Cornelis van der Waal, head of research at Wesgro.

He said tariffs were one of a series of tools that could be used to assist an industry. “They shouldn’t be permanent. South Africa should explore options such as technology acquisition and skills development in niche areas as a first response to industry development. Tariffs don’t provide a long-term sector competitive advantage,” he said

Jake Morris, chief facilitator of the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster, said: “It’s early days because the City only started formally supporting us last year, but the signs are encouraging – they’ve pledged to double their financial contribution to the cluster and have engaged pro-actively on how to best support the sector.”  IOL News

Public Investment Corporation pressured by union to rescue Edcon

By Antony Sguazzin and Janice Kew

South Africa’s biggest labour union federation Cosatu signaled a “massive fight” with the ANC if state-owned fund manager the Public Investment Corporation failed to rescue the country’s second-largest clothing retailer, Edcon Holdings.

A week after a senior labour union official sent an email on February 22 to the country’s then deputy finance minister, the PIC, which manages more than R2trn of mainly government worker pensions, led a R2.7bn investment in Edcon, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said. The decision ran counter to the recommendations of PIC’s investment professionals, the people said.

The previously unreported incident highlights concern that some investment decisions at the fund manager are driven by political considerations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made curbing corruption a key part of his drive to resuscitate the economy. The PIC is being scrutinised by a judicial commission following allegations of interference in investments ranging from newspapers to coal mines. The Pretoria-based company, Africa’s biggest fund manager, is responsible for pensions of more than 1 million state employees.

“If they don’t have an investment case there is a problem,” said Asief Mohamed, chief investment officer at Cape Town-based Aeon Investment Management. “I am concerned that investments are not made on a risk and return basis.”

Furious Members

The email came from Matthew Parks, parliamentary co-ordinator for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, to Mondli Gungubele, who in addition to being deputy finance minister was chairman of the PIC at the time. Parks complained the fund was “dragging its feet” with regard to a bailout of Edcon.

In the email, seen by Bloomberg, Parks warned of conflict between Cosatu, the PIC and the ANC and thousands of job cuts if the deal didn’t take place. Parks, in a telephone interview, confirmed sending the email and said it was one of many he sent on the issue to Gungubele.

Gungubele didn’t answer a call made to his mobile phone or respond to a text message.

“Our members are furious at how long this is taking to be concluded,” Parks said in the February 22 email. “We are pleading with you, comrade deputy minister, to intervene to ensure the PIC Investment Committee does meet, quorate and the PIC signs the final lock-up agreement.”

Edcon announced on March 1 that it secured the money from lenders, landlords, and the PIC – which used money it manages on behalf of the Unemployment Insurance Fund – in exchange for equity in the company. That allowed the retailer to stay in business and protect jobs.

“We have already placed on record that we appreciated the support of the unions acting in their members interests in looking for a solution to prevent Edcon being in a position where” jobs would be lost, Edcon Chief Executive Officer Grant Pattison said in an interview by telephone. The unemployment fund had to independently approve the investment and change its mandate with the PIC in order for the investment to be made, he said.

Representatives of the PIC and Treasury didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment and didn’t answer calls made to their mobile phones. The UIF said it may respond later.

140 000 Jobs

In his email, Parks said that if the investment wasn’t made, 40 000 jobs would be lost at Edcon, which runs the Edgars chain of clothing stores, and another 100 000 at factories and related services companies. A mass layoff on that scale could hurt the ANC’s prospects in elections to be held in May, he said. The ruling party went on to win 57.5% of votes cast.

“It will be impossible to convince any worker and their family to vote in the elections after their government did not act decisively to save their jobs,” Parks said. “It will have long term repercussions for the alliance,” he said in a reference to the political partnership between the ANC, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party.

Parks copied the email to Bheki Ntshalintshali, the general secretary of South Africa’s largest labour union federation. Ntshalintshali didn’t answer a call made to his mobile phone and didn’t respond to a text message.

“We’ve done it before, and we will do it again,” Parks said in an interview, adding that it is his organisation’s mandate to protect jobs. Gungubele “was very helpful” in compelling the PIC’s investment committee to meet and make the decision, he said, adding that the then deputy minister wouldn’t have been the only one to decide on the investment.

Parks said that while no investment is guaranteed to succeed, the fact that banks also supported the rescue showed that it was a sound decision.  Retailer News

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