Setting up shop to manufacture blankets in a competitive market is never going to be easy. Doing so as fairly new entrants to the country, and at a time that the industry was about to open to global markets, made the birth of Sesli Textiles doubly difficult.
But this is what company MD Mustafa Sesli and his brother Muzaffer Sesli did in 2000 when they established the specialists blanket manufacturing business.
Navigating the tough market conditions meant some trial and error for the brothers in finding their niche in the market.
This search for a way forward was given some impetus after the company founders heard about the IDC and the textiles industry incentive programme it was administering.
Taking advantage of the CTCP’s Production Incentive Programme (PIP), the business invested in new machinery, training for its staff and business development activities. The company MD says the active support from IDC staff was instrumental in driving the business forward through these interventions.
From its humble beginnings, Sesli Textiles today has a factory covering 14 000m2 and employs 180 people making a range of different, high quality blankets.
An important component of the business’s transition due to this support is the investment in staff training, with the incentives used to help staff obtain technician certification to handle maintenance and repair of the new equipment. In addition, funding as used to hire management consultants to streamline operations and improve efficiencies.
As a result of these interventions, the company has established a solid foothold across the SADC region. This is due in part to the increased capacity, but equally to in-depth market research that showed Sesli that its best chances lay closer to home rather than exporting to other markets.
“Obviously Sesli Textiles is competitive in the SADC region because of logistics and lead time being faster, and we are more cost-effective than people importing from the Far East,” he says. “We are very selective of customers because of sometimes they can buy and not pay, but we are doing quite well with products in Zimbabwe as well as Namibia, Zambia and little bit in Mozambique.”
While grateful for the support Sesli Textiles has received from the IDC, the company owner’s one regret is that the level of support is not higher, and may not continue indefinitely. Bar that, the company is on a far sounder footing after being able to invest in its people, production equipment and processes to set it up for the future.