Old Hotel Linen, a business opportunity for Chibini Community02 June 2017
Durban University of Technology add fresh take to community development
Budding entrepreneurs from Durban University of Technology (DUT) have identified a niche opportunity in discarded hotel linen that can contribute to job creation, upskill a community and contribute to reducing the carbon footprint.
As a result, the Chibini Linen team entry submitted by the Enactus DUT team has been recognised as one of the eight finalists for the Barloworld Social Innovation Youth Awards (BSIYA) competing at the judging ceremony on Friday, 30 June. The national winner for the 2017 BSIYA will be announced on Wednesday, 12 July 2017.
Research conducted by the Enactus DUT team revealed that hotels recycle most of their merchandise (i.e. newspaper, cardboard, aluminium cans and plastic bottles) but rarely recycle their textiles.
“Ninety-five percent of the textiles that are discarded by hotels are actually recyclable which could actively contribute to decreasing the world’s carbon footprint,” says Enactus DUT team leader, Obed Chauke.
This problem then became their focus for an innovative solution. By recycling and upscaling discarded linen from various hotels in and around Durban, they address environmental sustainability and create an entrepreneurial opportunity for a group of ladies from the Chibini community.
With a high unemployment rate of 48%, Chibini is a rural community situated approximately 100km from Durban, characterised by a lack of resources, disruptive electricity supply and poor access to municipal services where over a third of the households have no running water.
According to Chauke, the 10 ladies selected for the project are between the ages of 20-60 and have sewing skills but lack the required resources and business skills to maximise their entrepreneurial potential. The ladies make innovative use of their own fresh produce to dye the white linen to coloured fabric making a product range which includes a children’s bedroom range, cushions, curtains, backpacks and sling bags.
The project which will assist Ndwedwe Municipality in addressing some of these unemployment issues will apply the principle of peer learning – “so individuals teach each other the various skills such as pattern making, cutting, sewing and overlocking. The project promotes entrepreneurship and free trade in an endeavour to make the beneficiaries financially independent and improve their quality and standard of living,” says Chauke.
“We believe in initiatives like these that have the potential to contribute towards solving the challenges facing many of our communities. Particularly exciting is that the team has also thought of how to make this project sustainable over the long-term,” says Group executive of Corporate Affairs at Barloworld, Sibani Mngomezulu.“Barloworld seeks to be a catalyst for change and to contribute to the empowerment and transformation initiatives that will ensure the sustainability of our broader society,” he adds.
Enactus South Africa is a platform that brings tertiary students, academic advisors and business leaders together to improve socio-economic conditions in South African communities.
The Enactus DUT team has also partnered with non-profit organisation Church Alliance of Social Transformation (CAST). CAST will provide basic business training on registering a business, marketing successfully, submitting tenders, managing cash flow and other areas to enable success.
“In supporting Enactus, we are able to play an important role in promoting entrepreneurship, encouraging young people to improve lives and strengthen communities, and developing responsible leadership,” says Mngomezulu.