The Clothing Bank
Social Innovation in South Africa

©The Clothing Bank

The Clothing Bank has the capacity to support 800 mothers trading from five branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, East London and Paarl.

The Clothing Bank was established in 2011 in Cape Town. They utilise an innovative model to carefully select self-motivated individuals who buy discounted merchandise offered by a range of South African retail partners and sell it with the objective of earning an income that they use to eradicate poverty in their lives.

On successful application, an individual interested in starting their own business is enrolled in a 2-year training programme where they receive over 1000 hours of training and support and are able to start running their business within two weeks of joining the programme.

A core principle of the programme is based on practical and experiential learning. Key to the success of the programme is the creation of a nurturing and supportive environment that builds self-belief. The practical training and support covers modules like money management, business skills, computer skills and life skills.

The Clothing Bank has strategic partnerships with most of South Africa’s major clothing retailers such a Woolworths, Edcon, MRP, Pick ‘n Pay Clothing, Clicks, TFG, Truworths and Checkers who donate their excess stock, which is made up of customer-returns and end-of-season merchandise.

They specifically target unemployed mothers who join the two-year training programme and  quickly start trading. The women mainly trade in the informal sector with the clothing they buy from The Clothing Bank at discounted prices.