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Welcome to your Future

Walking into The Clothing Bank (TCB) in Mayville, Durban, I see a sign in large letters on the wall that reads ‘Welcome to your Future’. The Old Mutual Foundation has walked a journey with TCB for a number of years, so I know that that sign is no exaggeration.

The Clothing Bank sorting area, where donated stock from large retailers is unpacked, sorted and used as start-up stock for micro-enterprises.

The TCB, a non-profit organisation started in 2010, has quickly grown into one of the most successful social enterprises in South Africa, winning international awards and recognition for their work. Their straightforward business model is based on sourcing donations from major clothing retailers of leftover stock and overruns. For many retailers, getting rid of this stock solves a huge headache and also allows them to garner BEE points through the value of the stock donations.

In turn, TCB recruits unemployed mothers onto an intense life-changing, two-year enterprise development programme which teaches them to set up and manage their own small micro-enterprises using the donated clothing and accessories as their start-up stock. Not only does this enterprise training cover core business principles, but more importantly most women are supported out of deep personal crisis with counselling and critical life skills.

The Old Mutual Foundation assisted TCB to set up branches in Paarl, Gauteng and most recently R500 000 to open up a Durban branch in January 2015. Today, we have a chance to speak with two women who’ve been on the TCB programme for one year. Their stories, like so many, are of abuse and survival to provide for their kids.

Nontokozo ‘TK’ Gebe (below) has two boys and was unemployed for many years. “I sat at home for three years. It really shatters you, and it’s hard not to feel stupid or worthless. I was very nervous when I started at TCB and wasn’t sure how I’d been one of the 100 selected, or if I’d cope. But I was so tired of sitting at home I was prepared to try anything. I think for me this last year has been more about my emotional healing than about business success. Now I’m in a good place and feel stronger. My outlook on life has improved and I can relate to people in a normal way. Money-wise I’m getting better and this year I’ve got the energy to focus on my business.”

Nokuphiwo Magwaza (below) has five kids, with the last set being twins! She is no longer with her husband who is busy paying lobola for a second wife. She receives no maintenance support for their children and used to live in a shack in a nearby settlement. However, within one year of starting at TCB, Nokuphiwo has saved enough money from her business to buy a piece of land and put up her own brick-and-mortar house. “When I lock the doors at night, I think, ay last year I was staying in the shacks, now no-one can come to me and say move.”

Post index:

And we’re off!
Growing green futures
For the love of reading
Paying it forward
In the heat of the moment
The road to Camdeboo
The light of one small candle
Investing for the future
The building blocks of business
A heart for horses
Mining for talent
My ability is greater than my disability
To be a nurse, you must be love
There’s no such thing as ‘the voiceless’
Mark my words
The place where the sun rises
Welcome to your future
Strengthening families
Dollops of Dreams
The Business of Farming
Staff with Heart



3 Responses to Welcome to your Future

  1. Kirsten Dewar says:

    Such a fabulous initiative.

  2. Debi Jones says:

    These stories are so heartwarming I can’t get enough of them!!!

    • Thembeka Nkosi says:

      I know these ladies and this is a real life story, I am also in the 2 year programe at TCB, my life have improved so much, now I can easily provide for my 2 sons, I am so so GREATFUL to God for directing my feet to TCB. Well done TCB

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