Case Study: Artisans Republik & Iconic Solutions
Progression has pioneered an inspiring and innovative concept to address the overwhelming challenges of poverty, rising unemployment and the growing skills shortage in South Africa, whilst enabling businesses to enjoy valuable B-BBEE benefits. Progression’s Enterprise Development hubs provide an environment where previously disadvantaged individuals are nurtured and developed in order to enhance their skills and create sustainable employment opportunities.
The programme utilises a learnership model that provides learners not only with theoretical knowledge, but also affords them the opportunity to run their own company. The hubs are structured as SMME entities which allow learners an opportunity to establish businesses which they can benefit from, either through employment or potential profit share.
Funding from corporate investors through Enterprise & Supplier development supports the development and ongoing operation of the hubs until the learners are able to establish themselves and their businesses in the open labour market. Funding received is allocated towards equipment, materials, operations, training of learners as well as marketing cost.
Progression introduced its ground-breaking experiential learning hub model with the launch of the original Payroll Hub in 2018. Iconic Solutions is a registered business and the learners are the beneficiaries of a non-profit company (NPC) that holds 51% shareholding in the Hub.
The learners are placed on a variety of learnerships, all focusing on different skill sets required to manage and sustain the hub, whilst simultaneously being trained by Professional Accountants on a range of payroll and accounting software. This provides the learners with valuable opportunities to develop and grow within a career path, while at the same time creating a solid foundation of skills and expertise needed to establish this small business in the market.
The Payroll Hub is able to provide support and finance services to the other hubs and has also secured a number of external clients, strengthening ongoing sustainability.
2019 saw the establishment of a second SMME, Artisans Republik, which has become the “holding company” for a number of different enterprise hubs with varying creative focus areas. Progression has set up a trust for the individuals that are hosted in the hubs, to benefit from profit share and also to instill a sense of ownership.
The Sewing Hub has grown into a thriving small business which manufactures exclusive clothing and décor items for sale to small boutiques and independent designers, as well as via an on-line retail platform. Learners receive theoretical training through a range of different learnerships which focus on various areas of expertise relevant to the business, while being mentored by fashion and design graduates. To date, the hub has developed a solid client base which includes a KZN-based boutique (Not Sheep), a toy store (My Little Elf) and a designer clothing brand (Naughty George). The hub has also established itself in the market as a manufacturer and supplier of high-quality face masks in response to the high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furniture Manufacturing Hub
The core focus of this hub is the production and sale of unique furniture pieces for the retail market.
The learners are hosted within a designer manufacturing company called MMT where they are upskilled and mentored, whilst gaining a Furniture Manufacturing NQF 2 Qualification. The hub has identified a production line of currently trending items to produce for retailers, mainly to encourage them to stock locally-made products instead of relying on imports.
Marketing & Web Development Hub
This hub is focused on the ICT and Media industries and provides a platform for learners to gain valuable workplace experience while completing a Web Development and Design Learnership.
The hub has been developed to the point where it can support the other hubs as well as corporate clients with their marketing, social media and website needs.
Progression’s experiential learning hubs are an excellent way to empower people, create jobs and provide scarce and critical skills opportunities in a sustainable manner. Each of the small enterprises that have been established are providing goods and services that are locally made, contributing to the economic growth and upliftment of South Africa.