# Businesses can reduce their waste to landfill by donating to innovative NPO that develops entrepreneurs
# Programme enhances triple bottom line and BBBEE scorecard
# Black beneficiaries comprise 100% of Taking Care of Business’ waste reselling and repair programmes
Pioneering social enterprise Taking Care of Business (TCB) calls on South African manufacturers and distributors to join its efforts to reduce the amount of product waste to landfill while improving their triple bottom line and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) score.
Taking Care of Business, formerly known as The Clothing Bank, rebranded in September 2022 to better align with its holistic vision to “eradicate poverty in South African families”. The organisation is on a drive to expand its win-win shared value partnerships with manufacturers and retailers in the province.
COO and co-founder Tracey Gilmore says the organisation has worked with major South African retailers to tackle the problem of excess supply chain products that end up as waste on landfills for over a decade. These surplus products are donated to TCB, which in turn uses it to help unemployed men and women start small businesses reselling and repairing.
“We solve our partners’ environmental waste challenges while also create new small businesses to eradicate poverty. It’s w win-win. Our beneficiaries become micro-entrepreneurs in the circular economy. We teach them how to resell, repair or upcycle items which they sell at a profit to their customers. The types of surplus products we receive from our partners include fabric and trims, clothing, bags, costume jewellery, homeware and electronic appliances,” explains Tracey.
Equipping micro-entrepreneurs with resources and skills
“Our mission is to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills and resources they need to unlock their potential to access the economy. We empower the people who are raising the next generation; often single mothers,” Gilmore said.
Companies partnered with Taking Care of Business include Woolworths, Truworths, Jonsson Workwear, Mr Price Group Limited, Edgars, Queenspark, Clicks, Shoprite, Checkers, Cotton On, Cape Union Mart, Rex True Form Group Limited, Pick ‘n Pay Clothing and Home of Living Brands. In their last financial year, TCB received more than two million items from its retail partners. These donations fuel the trading businesses of over 1700 active beneficiaries in their enterprise development programmes. Traders made an estimated R83,8 million in profits.
“TCB’s success is built on the power of strategic partnerships. Our unique model demonstrates what can be achieved when the non-profit and private sectors collaborate in a shared value partnership. We would also love manufacturers and distributors to partner with us to achieve more impact,” Gilmore says. “Our national footprint provides partners with a simple, no-cost solution for their waste while at the same time creating an opportunity for them to make a difference in the future of South Africa,” Gilmore adds.
Developing start-up businesses
Gilmore says that TCB has established three successful enterprise development programmes due to its partnerships with various businesses. The flagship programme is Resell (formerly The Clothing Bank) equips unemployed mothers to become successful clothing traders in the circular economy. Their next Enterprise Development programme, Repair (formerly The Appliance Bank), trains unemployed South Africans to run appliance repair and trading businesses, reducing e-waste. And finally, the Remake programme helps seamstresses generate an income and run a financially viable business through creativity. TCB runs their programmes nationally and has branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, East London and Paarl.
“We believe that with the right support structure, everyone can become self-employed, and we have developed a holistic model that incorporates the head, heart and hands to do so, consistently,” Gilmore says.
Growing their impact and their footprint
“Above all, our partners allow us to help an unemployed mother or father heal and regain their dignity by being able to provide for their family. When we take care of small businesses, we can take care of families and eradicate poverty for good,” says Gilmore, who asks that more suppliers, retailer and manufacturers join their network of partners.