08 Apr 20 News Communities South Africa

Fashion business mentee turns to making COVID-19 masks

Martha sports one of her family friendly protective masks, which she is now producing with help from Noupoort Wind Farm's Economic Development Programme

A hatmaker supported by a wind farm mentoring scheme is joining South Africa’s drive against COVID-19 by switching her production to personal hygiene masks.

Noupoort milliner Martha Ntombi Mosoane is making up to 250 masks a day after answering a call from the Department of Small Business Development for new manufacturers of protective wear.

And her Mainstream business adviser believes that, having now registered on the government’s Central Supplier Database, she can easily churn out four times as many units from her rural Northern Cape workshop if given more materials and with additional staff.

The Noupoort milliner started out with a sewing machine salvaged from a tip

Economic Development Manager at the nearby Noupoort Wind Farm, Sandisiwe Mntonintshi, explained that the bigger challenge is delivering the much-needed supplies to distributors in Gauteng, as some local couriers have suspended services during the lockdown.

She said: “As part of our business support programme, this local micro-business received assistance to register as an official supplier, and we also gave advice and technical support in sourcing raw materials and meeting compliance standards.

Martha’s masks, which are made with tight-weave cloth and are heat-treated before packaging, have been designed to restrict the spread of the Coronavirus between family members in the home.

Mntonintshi added: “Medical masks require special production, so her products are aimed at households wishing to reduce the possibility of self- transmission to others. The masks are washable as per the World Health Organisation recommendations for mask use.”

Since embarking on her millinery dream in 2016 with a sewing machine salvaged from a rubbish dump, Martha has been steadily expanding her business with the help of Noupoort Wind Farm’s Economic Development Programme. Local businesses on the programme receive business coaching, training, market linkages and opportunities, and assistance with funding applications.

  • Noupoort Wind Farm was developed, constructed and is now operated by Mainstream for our Africa joint venture, Lekela Power. The 80 MW plant began generating around 304,800MWh of clean energy a year for the Eskom grid in July 2016, enough to power up to 69,000 South African homes.