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Kasi mask business booms as articles are snapped up

The business of selling face masks is thriving as enterprising tailors get into the act of producing cloth masks after the order that everyone must wear one when out in public. / Veli nhlapo
The business of selling face masks is thriving as enterprising tailors get into the act of producing cloth masks after the order that everyone must wear one when out in public. / Veli nhlapo

Township businesses are thriving by selling face masks in droves ever since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that on level 4 every person should wear face masks as a way of fighting the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

The level 4 came into place on Friday as Ramaphosa relaxes some of the lockdown restrictions.

Things have not been different for Xolile Gantsho, the owner of Tele Tele wear in Springs, Ekurhuleni. He said his company manufactured more than 1,000 masks a day.

"We are a company that designs and manufactures branded fashion wear and school uniforms, we saw a gap in the market. Our customers were always asking us to make them face masks," Gantsho told Sowetan.

"For these we use twill and cotton. We spend about R70 a metre for putter and inner fabric. The masks are selling at R35 each and we do door-to-door delivery for local orders and use a courier for clients outside Gauteng."

Another entrepreneur, Tshepang Nthoba, of Bloemfontein in the Free State, said she made three layer-masks to protect against air bacteria.

"I spend about R110 on a one metre of fabric and I use dutchess and polycotton. I produce about 30 masks from one metre and I sell one mask for R40 but one can pay R100 for three masks," Nthoba said.

"I do my marketing on social media and people have to come and collect at my place where they can choose from a range of my designs."

Other forms of business have also joined in the boom of manufacturing face masks.

Thabo Leshoeli, of Ads Like This, the Johannesburg-based company that specialises in corporate gifts, realised during the lockdown that demand for branded masks was also growing in the market.

His company does corporate gifts and branding for a variety of clients.

"I had not thought about it [manufacturing of branded face masks] before [the lockdown] until one of our manufacturers showed us a sample of a branded mask they had produced. I only realised it is very serious when a third manufacturer also showed a sample they had made," Leshoeli said.

"We then decided to put it online only to realise there is great demand for it."

Currently Leshoeli has an order for 100 branded masks he has produced and another for 200 that will soon be manufactured.

Ads Like This helps companies reach more customers by managing their social media and helping them produce marketing content.

They also help entrepreneurs with registration, tax compliance, branding and profiling if they are at the early stages of formation.

Leshoeli has four large manufacturers and three smaller print suppliers.

Cosatu, meanwhile, says it is deeply concerned about the misguided and dangerous pronouncement by the National Treasury last week that the supply of cloth masks for Covid-19 should be exclusively reserved for small businesses.

"While such rhetoric may appear seductive, as policy it is actually deeply impractical and will ultimately harm government employees, all citizens, educators, learners, the aged, factory workers, and hundreds of long-established factories in the current environment and going forward," the union federation said in a statement.

"Last week, we wrote to finance minister Tito Mboweni and his director-general Dondo Mogajane to express our utter bewilderment that Treasury thinks the current crisis is a suitable time to run a populist and ill-informed high school experiment in small business creation."

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