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Auction system transforms Bulawayo clothing firm

Auction system transforms Bulawayo clothing firm
Minister Sithembiso Nyoni tours Ticoz Clothing Company in Bulawayo on Monday. Taking her through the tour is the company’s Operations director Mrs Tafadzwa Gumende (left)

Auction system transforms Bulawayo clothing firm

Improved access to foreign currency through the official weekly auction system has enhanced the transformation of a Bulawayo-based firm, Ticoz Clothing Company, which is now driving at value addition in order to fully tap into the local and foreign markets.

The young factory is located at the Belmont Industrial Site and manufactures an assorted range of products that include casual wear and work suits.

It is one of the success stories of companies in Bulawayo that has benefitted from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) weekly foreign currency auction system.

The Government introduced the weekly foreign currency auction trading system last year in June to improve access to hard currency by businesses.

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, visited Ticoz Clothing on Monday and expressed excitement over the value addition focus of the business.

“We’ve got lot of cotton that is being grown, so if a company like this could go into the whole value chain from the field to ginning, spinning, weaving up to spinning that would be very good especially given that it is a woman or family-led company. As the Government we are encouraging that,” said Dr Nyoni.

As the country prepares to participate at the Expo 2020 Dubai starting next month, after it was postponed last year due to Covid-19, Dr Nyoni challenged the clothing firm to ride on the upcoming event. The expo is a multi-billion-dollar innovation fair billed to take place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates in October 2021 to April next year.

“We are now preparing for Expo 2020 Dubai and we would like to have as many creative women as possible go to Dubai 2020 and there will be a month for fashion so the whole of March 2022 will be a month for women,” said the minister.

“We would like to promote women like you who have really made it to take their fashion and designs to Dubai this year.”

In a separate interview, Ticoz operations director Mrs Tafadzwa Gumende said the business was alive to the value addition drive.

“She (Dr Nyoni) spoke about value addition because it’s something that we want to look at as well. From cotton to clothing we import a lot of raw materials because our cotton right now we are making 100 percent cotton but women like straight tight clothes,” she said.

“We’re trying to explore how we can manipulate that cotton to give us the cotton we need.”

Mrs Gumende said her company has benefitted from the RBZ auction system and they have been using the funds to procure raw materials for the business.

“The objective of her (minister) visit was to find out if we have been benefitting from the RBZ auction, the money that they have been auctioning out to businesses to buy raw materials and other materials for the company,” she said.

Covid-19 and foreign currency remain the major challenges affecting Ticoz operational capacity. The company has the capacity to increase its workforce to 450 when operating at full throttle but for now it only has 100 workers.

“Sometimes our invoices are US$60 000 or US$100 000 but we can only auction for US$20 000 at a time. So that’s a challenge for us there,” said Mrs Gumede.

“At the moment we can have up to 450 people but the major challenges relate to the impact of Covid-19 and forex supply on the auction system.

“Our buyers aren’t buying as much under Covid-19 but I am sure if they open up to the export option where we have a bigger market, we can definitely fill up our capacity. So, it’s also the market that controls our operational capacity.

Getting the business is not a problem but money to get the raw materials to produce and supply is a challenge,” said Mrs Gumende.

The clothing manufacturing firm supplies the local industrial and retail sectors such as Tongaat Hulett, Zesa, Zupco, Edgars, Truworths and Number 1 Stores. At the moment, Ticoz is focusing on domestic market but used to export to Sadc in countries such as South Africa and Zambia.

“We are looking forward to re-engage our customers in the export market but this Covid situation has slowed us down. We are engaging other customers in Namibia and we also have an MoU with an Indian delegation where we are looking at fashion education through the opening of a university where we can start teaching people about the fashion industry,” said Mrs Gumende.

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