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Youth employment

Impactful interventions in South Africa

Groundcover Leather Company is a sustainable enterprise in South Africa, crafting leather footwear and other products. The young owners Daniel and Angela are committed to social responsibility and positive impact on the next generation in their community . They collaborated with PUM to navigate challenges, from business transition and performance management to e-commerce growth and branding. Thanks to a small grant allowing them to purchase a new stitch machine and energy solutions to provide a constant power supply, they ensure income for their employees and a better future for the community.

 

Groundcover Leather Company, was founded by Amanda McCarthy and her late husband Justin in 1990 in Curry’s Post, South Africa. The company produces original and finely handcrafted leather footwear and accessories. Last year Daniel McCarthy took over the family business together with his wife Angela. Under the leadership of the young owners, Groundcover remains dedicated to uplifting the local community. This includes supporting the education of employees’ children by covering school fees and books, offering school transport and post-school tuition, and ensuring access to healthcare for their staff. The company’s ethos continues, making it not just a business success but a socially responsible enterprise.

Aligning challenges ahead

Daniel sought collaboration with PUM for several subjects: the business transition from mother to son, performance management of the staff, adaptation of the branding and marketing approach, growth in e-commerce, and adapting market preferences to take socially conscious products into account. PUM expert Arend Knol, specialised in Accountancy & Financial Management, was matched with the client. They discussed the beforementioned subjects and using the Business Model Canvas they aligned their activities and redefined their value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. Arend also called in the branding expertise of PUM expert Nancy Emmens who remotely discussed with the owners how to reach a younger demographic in addition to current ‘older’ customers and to be more visible as a brand to create awareness and stimulate sales. Various improvements in brand values, re-categorising products, use of social media channels. Expert Frans Buysse brought in his expertise on e-commerce. He gave online advice on the set-up of an e-commerce channel and improvement of the website.

Arend Knol: “On my first day of the project at Groundcover the 25-year-old ‘High Speed Outsole Stich machine’ broke down beyond repair. As a temporary solution, the company shipped their shoes to a local competitor to assist with stitching, resulting in extra costs. As stitching is a critical element of the manufacturing process and gives work to 25 employees, we decided to apply for a grant with PUM’s fund Hans Blankert Fund.” The HBF funds small investments which boost companies to grow, innovate or produce more sustainably by purchasing tools and equipment. In the mean time the new machine has been installed and the in-house stitching has restarted.

Akash Singh
PUM Representative South Africa

“The example of Ground Cover Leather Company serves as an inspiration for other SMEs in South Africa. It underscores the importance of tailored technical support in driving sustainable development and social, ecological, and economic impact.”

In search of alternative energy solutions

PUM representative Akash Singh is in regular contact with the client and learned that the company was struggling with load shedding, strategic electricity blackouts, losing 4 to 8 manufacturing hours a day. This is severely impacting the business, with staff standing idle and production levels down by 40%. As a socially responsible company, Daniel tries his best to keep his staff despite these macroeconomic factors that are out of his control. Accordingly, he needed to find an alternative solution to powering the factory. Akash linked Groundcover for a third time with PUM, for remote advice by PUM expert in Energy, Jan Peters. He guided the company in exploring and developing an energy mix matrix improving the current factory throughput during load shedding. During a visit in September, Akash and country coordinator South Africa, Bart van Schie, were shown the successfully installed solar panels and grid-connected solution, marking a significant milestone for the company.