Start-up equipment and supplies were provided to the budding Areduchap Co-operative in Pilgrim’s Rest by the Ehlanzeni District Municipality. This was after it had secured a winning bid in a call for business plans by the Thaba Chweu Department of Local Economic Development.
At a function on August 16, attended by locals and a large number of Ehlanzeni District and Thaba Chweu officials and councillors, three industrial sewing machines, an industrial iron, fabrics, threads and beads were handed over to the co-operative. This was the happy conclusion of a long process of registering a company and complying with all the legal requirements, meeting with the Local Economic Development Manager of Thaba Chweu and having their business plan accepted in a bid for funding in the 2016-2017 financial year.
The co-operative plans to manufacture products for the tourist market locally. Products include bags, aprons, cushion covers, beadwork, etc. The company will also be able to sew any other items in order, such as soft furnishings for lodges. “We want to contribute to empowering the local community. The aim is to end up as a big business, creating employment and skills development opportunities for local youth and women,” explained Sinnah Rabalaho, project manager. Rabalaho, who completed her last two years of schooling in Pilgrim’s Rest, returned to the village after having completed her studies to qualify as a fashion designer.
The other members of the co-operative are Lovely Masinga (Chairperson), Julia Mdluli (Treasurer), Irene Mashile (Deputy Chairperson, Violet Malapane (Secretary), Dudu Mkhatswa (Deputy Secretary) and Lindy Bila. Also involved is Gloria Ngobeni who sponsored a lot of the expenses involved in starting up the co-operative and obtaining the funding.