As schools are set to re-open for the 2021 academic year, a Cooperative based in Tsakane in Ekurhuleni is determined to meet their target of providing school uniform to learners in the area. The Dimamazi Multipurpose Cooperative is battling the odds brought on by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
78 year old Anna Sibisi is a member of the cooperative and says it received major support from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) and the Gauteng Department of Social Development since it was established back in 2013.
The cooperative, which produces school uniforms, was started by a group of unemployed women, after realising that people spend a lot of money to get school uniform for their children and they also because they wanted people to learn the skill of sewing.
Eight years later, the cooperative is still up to the task of ensuring that they deliver the much needed school uniform to pupils in the area. Speaking to Gauteng Social Development at the Faranani Multipurpose Centre, Sibisi said the six-member cooperative continues to do the work despite challenges of not having an embroidery machine, and have torely on the one that they have to subcontract all the time. Another challenge is doing business while they comply to Covid-19 regulations as set out in the government gazette.
“We really wish that the work we doing for the Gauteng Department of Social Development can assist us acquire the embroidery machine so that we do not have to outsource it,” said Sibisi. She added that they were grateful for the opportunity awarded to them by the department to produce school uniform for three (3) schools in Tsakane for the current academic year.
Another member of the cooperative, Sibusisiwe Duze said it has been a very thought-provoking journey to work for Dimamanzi Multipurpose Cooperative since she arrived in 2014. “At some point over the years we had problems of getting customers as the project was unable to acquire funding, and we had to market ourselves at schools and also expanded our services to include traditional wear so that we can make ends meet,” added Duze.
15 year old Mduduzi Dube from Tsakane Extension 8 Secondary School came to purchase a school t-shirt, “I always come here with my sister to purchase school uniform. The quality and material is very good, and the price is affordable.” Said Mduduzi.
The project is one of the elements of the Bana Pele Programme as provided by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) to provide a basket of services to vulnerable children. The pack which is supplied to students consists of a tunic, skirt, shirt, trouser, jersey, dungaree, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes and underwear which should be in line with the uniform-type of the specific school and gender of the beneficiary. The project is aimed at ensuring that cooperatives, mainly women sewing and shoes cooperatives become preferred suppliers for school uniform.