This article was originally written and published by VEGA Member PUM Netherlands senior experts here.
Women’s role in economic development is worldwide of major importance. PUM will promote diversity by creating opportunities for women and youth in entrepreneurship. Both hold strong potential for spurring economic growth, creating employment opportunities and promoting empowerment. Nicolene Gericke is one of those female entrepreneurs.
Antjie’s Handmade Naturals started as a hobby 15 years ago. The owner Nicolene Gericke started making handmade products such as scents, bath products and soaps, all by using natural ingredients. Nicolene: ‘The objective is that the products must be of good quality and contribute to the sustainability of the local community’. Customers that buy the products are supply retailers, corporate clients and the hotel industry.
‘Our focus is on creating good quality South African made products, while creating support for our community’
Together with 15 hard working women, Antjie’s has grown into a successful concept. In addition to these 15 permanent employees, who are active in production, sales, marketing and packaging, she also offers employment to 60 women on a project basis who knit and crochet handmade products from home.
Things are going so well that sales have doubled in the past five years. Antjie’s has a well-visited store in Stanford.
To bring her business to the next level, Nicole asked PUM for help. Nicolene: ‘Among other things, I needed help to improve the production process, how to better manage my business and employees and professionalise the business All this, not only to grow as a company, but also to create sustainable jobs for the local women in the surrounding community’.
PUM volunteer expert John Brands gave recommendations on her management style, production planning, export possibilities, managing the business in general and more specific how to manage the production in a more successful way. They also looked to the future, where does the company want to be in 3-5 years? A SWOT analysis has been made and the outcome and action points have been made SMART. The owner realised at the end of the visit of the expert that with further growth she will need a professional management team to keep up with the daily operations and growth of the number of orders. A short term action plan has been drawn up and a production manager has been installed already.
John Brands (60) – ‘When I first met Nicolene, she explained that she is working instinctively and professionalisation is needed in her company. She indicated that there was no management structure and that she managed here personnel by wandering around through the workplace at random to check with employees, equipment, or the status of ongoing work. That is the way she could manage it for years but I helped her realise that with further growth she will need a professional management team to keep up with the daily operation and growth of the number of orders. I have monthly Skype sessions with Nicolene in order to monitor the progress and further assist her with the implantation of the recommendations’.
‘It is fantastic to see that Nicolene is creating employment for all these local women with lovely handmade, natural products. Nicolene can be proud of herself!’