Eastern Cape’s businesses show off their success at accessing global opportunity through ECDC’s electronic buyers website.
Annette Oelofse says her mohair and wool product business is set for expansion, following leads that came with using Eastern Cape Development Corporation’s (ECDC) trade facilitation portal known as E-Platform.
Oelofse says she started a knitting business 11 years ago to add value to her husband’s farming business. Oelofse’s husband farms angora goats and merino sheep, which are sources of raw material for mohair and high quality wool.
Marking her success as a businesswoman, the enterprising farmer’s wife is one of 40 finalists in Landbouweekblad magazine’s Landevroue Entrepreneur competition to celebrate farmer’s wives with business initiatives.
2010 Landbouweekblad finalist
“I am so proud that Landbouweekblad named me a finalist for their competition for farmer’s wives who are entrepreneurs,” says Oelofse. The farm called Kamferspoort is located in Klipplaat district.
Some of her work has found its way to the London Fashion Week after London-based designer Khulekani Msweli asked her to make a jumper for exhibitions in February and in March (Paris).
She has business leads pouring in from Austria, Mexico and New Zealand, to name a few.
1,000s of orders from Mexico, Austria, New Zealand, Indonesia
“Since being listed on Global Sources through ECDC, I’ve got orders for thousands of items such as knitted gloves, thermal underwear, gift bags and scarves from places like Mexico, Austria, New Zealand and Indonesia,” says Oelofse who has now started implementing strategies to expand her business.
Oelofse is convinced that she would not have received the trade leads and gained any global exposure had she had not been listed on ECDC’s E-platform.
She recalls how Siphelo Mbomboyi, a trade promotion officer at ECDC, persuaded her to advertise her products on E-platform.
“Siphelo did his best to help me to register my business and list my products on E-platform. In the beginning, I was skeptical and I thought it was not for me,” Oelofse says.
E-platform assists EC’s small businesses
E-platform kicked into gear two years ago and is designed to assist Eastern Cape’s small medium and micro enterprises (SMME) to penetrate the global market.
ECDC and its service provider Global Sources facilitate the meeting of buyer and seller via the electronic marketing platform. Global Sources is an international company which spans 230 countries with 264 offices worldwide with a 40 year track record in trade facilitation.
Mbomboyi says E-platform gives SMMEs the platform to market their wares to a global audience whilst incurring no international marketing costs. This initiative is intended to increase global demand for Eastern Cape products which in turn stimulates output.
For Oelofse, the benefits of ECDC’s marketing tool has allowed her to extend the reach of her business to other women nearby her area.
“I could not possibly fill those orders so I am training other women to knit and crochet for me so that I can produce more,” Oelofse says.
In the process, she says, she is transferring skills and promoting mohair products to the locals as well.
“I want people to know about mohair. If people in South Africa know about it, then it will be the first step to promoting it beyond the country,” says Oelofse who has recently received an invitation to exhibit her wares in the United Kingdom.
Mbomboyi says the success of e-platform as a marketing tool lies in its ability to expose the seller’s products to a pool of buyers that they would otherwise not have been able to reach.
E-platform has a community of 854,860 registered buyers
“Once listed, the product is exposed to a community of 854,860 registered buyers. Aspirant exporters or manufacturers are assessed for export readiness which is a tool that is incorporated within the E-platform.
“If they are not ready, we don’t just leave them. We assist them or link them up with other stakeholders such as a development agency like SEDA which gives them comprehensive export training,” Mbomboyi says.
Any export-ready business that has been in business for at least two years and understands the logistics aspect of business can list on E-platform. The business has to be registered with Customs and Excise (SARS) for export certification.