An integrative social enterprise
Job creation and women’s economic empowerment form the foundation of the Township® ethical fashion brand. Today, Township Patterns CC has an established reputation as a unique and innovative social enterprise, providing work for an ever-expanding network of independent township-based sewing co-operatives that it helps set up through its not-for-profit organization Afrique du Sud, Bidonvilles (ASB).
Fair trade first
Township Patterns CC focuses on designing, marketing and distributing the Township® ranges of bags and accessories – from high-end fashion collections to eco-friendly Pick n Pay shoppers and custom branded conference bags. All items are hand made, largely by women-run co-ops, which means that every purchase of a Township® product directly translates into work for township women. Materials are ethically sourced and Township® was the first South African fashion brand to become a member of the World Fair Trade Organization.
ASB provides women with the skills to establish and run independent sewing co-operatives within their communities. Each co-op receives intensive sewing, accounting and business training and, after six months, becomes an autonomous entity registered with the Department of Trade and Industry. There are currently 6 co-ops – in Khayelitsha and Manenberg on the Cape Flats – providing work for around 60 women and positively affecting 7 to 10 people for every job created. Importantly, the women are able to work in a professional and safe environment, close to their families, saving on the time and money they would usually spend commuting.
‘The co-operatives are at the heart of everything we do at Township®. We watch the members begin as trainees and blossom into professional businesswomen, running their own show, making their own decisions and enjoying their success. My aim was to bring economic opportunity to women in their own communities. Listening to them and trying to answer their needs has shaped my life radically. Working together, we have been on a journey of positive change.’ – Township® founder & CEO Nicole-Marie Iresch