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The R4-million Ikusasa Green manufacturing plant, was officially opened in Stutterheim, Eastern Cape, in April by Eastern Cape Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Mcebisi Jonas. The project was funded by the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s Local and Regional Economic Development Fund, with additional assistance from retail giant Massmarfs Supplier Development Fund. Seventy per cent black-owned manufacturing company Ikusasa Green would, at this facility, focus on the manufacturing of cooler boxes through a roto-moulded process, ensuring a stronger, more durable, hygienic and green product. The plant is expected to initially create 20 new, sustainable jobs in the Stutterheim area, with an additional 10 to 15 permanent jobs expected to be created within the first two months of operation. Speaking at the opening of the facility, Jonas said this was “exciting for the provincial government” as it showed it could address the challenge it was facing in terms of growing small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) through forging linkages with big business. “In normal circumstances, you will find [that] there is a disconnection which leads to a shortage in supply chain management and a skills deficit at large. Linked to this is the SMME sector not being able to properly understand the lines of supply and distribution and access to capital,” he said.
Jonas added that the Ikusasa Green facility signalled a “stride to turn the tide [ofjob losses] through building an indigenous manufacturing sector. It seeks to reignite the manufacturing sector as industrialisation works perfectly if it is locally entrenched”. The company last week also handed over the first two newly manufactured Camp Master cooler box units to Massmart, as part of its R610 000,700 unit, initial order. Ikusasa Green director Mkuhili Pakade said that the company’s contract with Massmart was a “significant economic landmark” for the Amahlathi municipality and surrounding areas. “[The deal] enhances the brand profile of Amahlathi as Ikusasa Green will be trading with a company that has a national and international footprint. “Through this network our product will be available for sale throughout the world,” he said, adding that the community would also benefit from the jobs created. Meanwhile, Massmart supplier development manager Moshisi Lehlongwane said the company’s partnership with Ikusasa Green was a reaffirmation of its commitment to buy from small and medium-sized suppliers from anywhere in the country. “Through our Supplier Development Fund, we have committed to work with Ikusasa Green to remove challenges such as securing the right moulds, ensuring that their factory complies with national standards and that they have the right machinery to keep up with orders from Massmart,” Lehlongwane said.
LEANDI KOLVER I SENIOR ONLINE WRITER