Back in Business and Back to School

BACK IN BUSINESS AND

BACK TO SCHOOL

Gauteng Schoolwear was founded in 2009 by the Vosloorus born and bred sisters who come from a family of self made entrepreneurs. The Dibate sisters were also determined to make their mark in the business world, and after identifying a gap in the School Uniform industry, they started their business out of the boot of their car.

Sunday the 12th of July 2021 was not a typical ‘day of rest’ for many South Africans including Boni and Lettie Dibate – South Africa was experiencing violent unrest and the Dibate sisters’ business, Gauteng Schoolwear, went up in flames.

 

A school in Katlehong was the first client of this self funded business and as the demand for school tunics and jerseys grew, they opened a store in Vosloorus. Later the sisters employed their mother and opened 2 more stores, one in Leondale and another in Black Chain Centre, Diepkloof Soweto.

 

Their business motto, ‘never compromise on quality’, and commitment to job creation was key in ensuring that they sourced all their stock from South African manufacturers, employed local people within their communities, and in each school gave free uniforms to children from impoverished homes.

 

So, it was no wonder that community members came to their aide during the unrest, to help them save some of the stock from their Baragwanath store, whilst the shopping mall security did their best to ensure their safety.

Boni thought all hope was lost when she realised the extent of the damage caused by the looting and subsequent burning of their 3 stores. Sending a message to one of the IDC’s executives on a Saturday seemed like a wild shot, but to Boni’s surprise the executive responded almost immediately. On Monday an IDC consultant followed up with Boni and the process of rebuilding the Dibate sisters’ business started.

 

Gauteng Schoolwear’s financials were assessed and they were allocated a full grant that enabled them to recover the stock they’d lost, buy new improved sewing machines and even employ additional staff – all of this in less than 3 months.

 

During a site visit by the IDC, Boni says ‘the IDC’s passion and commitment to see us back in business gave us hope and helped us create even more jobs’. This also meant that the Dibate sisters could employ a young recovering drug addict who was given training in computer literacy, to work on the ‘advanced computer software, provided by the IDC’. Boni and Lettie are aiming to be fully operational by end of November and be ‘back to school’ in time for the busiest time of their business year.