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Threads Stitched By Standard Bank: The Business Of Fashion Accelerator Programme

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The global Fashion industry today is worth 3 trillion USD however, Sub-Sahara Africa accounts for only 1% of that.

Of all the potential obstacles to growing this market in South Africa, it seems creative talent and exposure are the least of what hinders upcoming fashion brands from thriving on the international scene, access to finance even less. There is a definite need for teaching the business of fashion – fashion entrepreneurs need to be supported in professionalizing their enterprises and running a truly profitable business.

There is real opportunity to take South Africa’s up-and-coming fashion designers and turn them into powerful fashion CEO’s. Given the appropriate support, these fashion entrepreneurs could be running profitable businesses capable of competing on the international apparel scene, creating jobs, and having an impact on the South African economy.That’s why purpose-driven marketing agency NONZēRO partnered with Standard Bank to create: the Business of Fashion accelerator programme “Threads – stitched by Standard Bank”:

What Standard Bank is looking to do is support the entrepreneurs’ creativity with the crucial business know-how, mentorship and support that’ll propel the business to the point where they’re experiencing real growth, and running like professional outfits. The partnership with Standard Bank is a key to delivering on this goal. In order to supplement the programme with an academic backbone, the team partnered with the e4 Impact Foundation, an initiative of the Universita Cattolico of Milan focussing on impact entrepreneurship. Together they created a 12-week curriculum that focuses on the business operations of a fashion enterprise: From financing and retaining employees, to lean manufacturing and eCommerce, as well as specialized procurement methods and marketing.

The programme is open to all fashion entrepreneurs with existing business operating in South Africa, and is taught simultaneously from four regional classroom hubs: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. The programme takes place two evenings per week for a 12-week duration. The participants will also be taken on action learning field trips across South Africa designed to showcase best practices’ across the country in various fields.

Working together with the Standard Bank Incubator and a strong eco-system of partners in business (including Mercedes-Benz), government and civil society, the programme calls upon the expertise of some of South Africa’s top business minds and thought leaders as programme teachers. The programme uses real-life case studies and experiential learning exercises to reinforce the academic learnership of the programme with practical industry insights.

At the end of the programme, the participants will be invited to present their new business model in a business case presentation to a panel of judges, and the winning participant will be taken on an international trade trip to Europe. The key focus of this trade trip is a meeting with a high-impact private distribution network enabling the participant to liaise with and present their business/products to wholesale buyers and retailers, as well as attending trade fairs.

The winning participant will receive an SME start-up pack courtesy of Standard Bank, will become a Mercedes Benz brand ambassador and drive the brand new vehicle for a 12 month period, as well as benefit from continued mentorship by the Threads team.

To participate in the Threads programme, interested entrepreneurs can apply online, via Threads website, (Open to entrepreneurs with an existing business in operation in South Africa for at least one year). The application process opens on 11th September, 2017 for a one-month period, ending on 11 October, 2017.



Fashion Torch Africa’s Fashion Entrepreneur MeetUp


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It is always a great feeling when you finally meet friends you have been chatting to online face to face. On my visit to Kenya in December 2015 I finally met the Fashion Torch Africa team. A team I had been conversing with since Fashion Torch was merely an idea. What was meant to be a few friends hanging out turned out to be a small talk on fashion with me as one of the speakers.


Being the person who I am; a person who has a touch time standing in front of people, talking and being the centre of attention I decided to hold a discussion instead. We discussed challenges that many fashion entrepreneurs faces; from legislation to lack of funding among other things and solutions were shared among the group and I am glad that the Fashion Entrepreneur Meet Ups are going to continue every month tackling issues that we face as photographers, models, presenters, fashion designers and so on.

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I am really inspired by the number of young people in Africa who are not making excuses about being unemployed but instead they are taking initiative and starting businesses in things that interest them. For instance I met Sally and Lola who are starting a publishing business and they will have a fashion magazine covering African fashion. I also had a chat with Tyrus who started an events company which happens to be doing very well regardless of being less than a year old.

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Effective communication and complying with policies or legislation were key issues that were discussed. Most of the time creatives often overlook legislation they run unregistered businesses. I know how boring admin can be but it must be done. A right team is very important in order for the business to succeed. Someone whose name I cannot quite recall said you must take care of your team or employees so they can treat your customers right.


Speaking of customers, fashion designers always have problems with customers who demand lower prices for high quality products because they say they can always buy some cheap Chinese replica. As customers we need to support our local designers and we must try understand that material, labour and the time it took to bring the product into its present condition form part of the price.

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I had so much fun interacting with my brothers and sisters in Nairobi and big up to Wilkings and the entire fashion team for having me around and showing me a great time. I cannot wait to see the empire grow #AfricaReign.