TCB 10 years
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Leadership report

TCB Tracey and Tracey

A Year of Highs and Lows

What a year it has been. A year of highs and lows. We battled water, fire, wind but as they say – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and The Clothing Bank certainly bares testimony to that.

We celebrated our 10-year Clothing Bank milestone in February 2020 with a festive celebration that honoured successful women, our staff and partners who make it all possible. It was a treat to see many of our graduates and celebrate with our Power Partners.

We started the year battling the water crisis in Cape Town and praying for rain, which eventually fell abundantly in April and we all breathed a sigh of relief. This relief was short lived as on the 25th May our Cape Town branch suffered a devastating fire which gutted the building. It felt surreal, dreamlike, unbelievable. The fire was started by a vagrant trying to rummage through our recycling bin and escalated beyond control in minutes.

In the midst of this crisis we were reminded of the incredible power of the partnerships that we have established over the last 10 years.

Our retailers rallied all their resources to find new stock, our service providers were on site within days to get us up and running in a building across the road (which, by a miracle, became available to us) within a week. What inspired us the most was the strength of our team, who worked day and night to limit the impact on our traders and the positive spirit of our traders, who took the setback in their stride, applied all the lessons they had learnt and bounced back with record sales in July, only 1 month later.

TCB facility fire

A devastating fire left our Cape Town office and warehouse desolated.

We learnt many lessons and thankfully, due to our prudent financial management, we were fully insured and are in the process of rebuilding.

Our Clothing Bank project has definitely felt the impact of the economic downturn with sales to traders in the two-year programme declining on average over the last year but this was countered by the growing sales to graduates as a result of the excellent supply we are receiving from Truworths.

Our GROW Educare project is growing from strength to strength with 43 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres now established, educating 1600 children daily. We set a new strategy and embarked on a new journey, launching the business into the Fourth Industrial Revolution by developing a mobile App that supports centre owners to operate a 5-Star early learning centre from the palm of their hand. The app has set us up to impact many more ECD centre owners in the future.

As we ended this financial year, we were faced with the devastating effects of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. All our Clothing Bank branches and GROW ECD centres closed for business by the end of March. How long this crisis will last is unknown and what lasting impacts it will have for the economy and the retail sector are yet to be seen. The spirits of our beneficiaries remain positive, with many being thankful for the saving habits they put into place as a result of our Me and My Money course.

We are thankful that have we strong cash reserves and are doing everything we can to pay salaries and support our beneficiaries in this time. We have sufficient stock to start trading as soon as the lockdown is over and will provide traders with a start-up loan to get back on their feet quickly.

We also launched hunger relief efforts to help provide family food parcels to those who’ve lost all their income streams, their jobs and who are most vulnerable.

A sincere and heartfelt “Thank You” to our board, management team, retail partners, suppliers, coaches and mentors for being our biggest cheerleaders and for their unwavering support this year.

TCB hunger relief


Years of Impacting Lives

The Clothing Bank logo




retail partners


items sourced
since inception


women recruited
since inception

Women have
generated over


profits since inception

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retail partners


men recruited to
TAB project
since inception

Men have generated


profits to date

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schools established


classrooms established


children enrolled, capacity for



jobs created

10 Years Later: The most important lessons learnt

Celebrating 10 Years of successful women and powerful partnerships

300 Clothing Bank supporters and beneficiaries joined us for our birthday celebration at GOLD Restaurant on 20th February 2020 (a special date). The energy in the room was electric. We cried, we laughed, we reminisced and celebrated the many miracles that we have witnessed over the last 10 years. It was particularly special to see many of our graduates.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship from The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, we ran a competition to find our most successful graduates. We had a tremendous response and it was inspiring to interview all the finalists. Seven finalists in three categories were selected and flown to Cape Town for the awards ceremony.

Awards categories:

  1. Best Business Woman
  2. Business with Most Community Impact
  3. Most Inspiring Story

For some, it was their first flight and there was great excitement as each one took to the stage to share their story. Winners received a cash prize to invest in their business and generous goodie bags from our many sponsors. The next day finalists were treated to a tour of a The Cape Peninsula.

Our retail donors and power partners were each given a trophy signifying the significant contribution they have made to The Clothing Bank. It was a night to remember.

The Comfy Shoe Lady – Spotted a Gap and Took a Leap of Faith


Thabisa Mathandabuzo won the Most Successful Business Woman Award at our 10th Birthday Celebration. Thabisa is a 36 year old mother to an 8 year old daughter.

Thabisa joined the Durban branch in 2016. She is a single mom with an 8-year-old daughter.

Prior to joining TCB, she was a domestic worker earning only R1 500 a month. She says she was ‘’drained and depressed’’, unable to survive on these wages. Through the ED training programme she learnt how to plan, budget and keep records which helped her improve her spending habits.

Read more about Thabisa

Sharing my experiences so that others can find themselves, like I did


Besley Malumane was the runner up in the Woman with the Most Community Impact category at our 10th birthday Celebration.

Before Besley joined TCB, she had big dreams and tried many things, but gave up easily. She says her life was more like a nightmare. She was living from hand to mouth and her self-confidence was very low.

Besley is a survivor. Her husband died 6 months after she joined TCB, resulting in her being kicked out of her family home. She became very depressed but she asked for help which she got through coaching and counselling at TCB and from her fellow TCB women.

Read more about Besley

Women need to know my story so that they can learn that you don’t need to be stuck in a situation that life throws at you


Valerie Grootboom is a 50 year old mother with a very inspiring story.

Valerie is a sewing lady from Paarl. Previously, Valerie was working as a domestic worker earning R100 a day. She was looking after her mother, her down syndrome brother and her disabled nephew. And life was really tough.

When she first joined TCB and started buying bags of damaged clothing to repair and resell, she did not think it would work but she persevered. She set up a stand at the mall on weekends.

Read more about Valerie

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active women traders




items received


profits made by beneficiaries currently on 2 yr programme


total profits made by ED beneficiaries

TCB sewing

Power Partnerships are the Key to Success

The Clothing Bank

What started as a small project in Pickwick Street in Salt River, Cape Town in 2010 has grown into an internationally recognised organisation offering income-generating opportunities that build the bridge to financial inclusion for women in South Africa.

As a social enterprise, we believe in restoring dignity by teaching women to create wealth for themselves.

We understand the complexity involved with moving people from being stuck in dependency to becoming Micro Entrepreneurs in the informal sector. We have created a holistic training and development programme to support the personal and professional growth of the women enrolled in our two-year programme. Our training curriculum includes finance, business and life skills modules that support our philosophy of working with the head, heart and hand.

The power partnerships we have built with South Africa’s major retailers who donate their excess “waste” merchandise to our programme has provided our Micro Entrepreneurs with a very lucrative, sustainable income generating opportunity. Collaboration is the catalyst for change and our Micro Entrepreneurs earned R38 million in profits over the past financial year.

We currently support 791 women across our five branches in Cape Town, Paarl, East London, Durban, and Johannesburg.

Collectively our retail power partners donated in excess of 1,800 000 million items worth over R100 million this past financial year.

The support we receive from The MRP Group, Truworths and Woolworths continues to exceed our expectations. Our relationship with The Foshini Group has grown over the past year and is bearing fruit, and our traders enjoy the quality and variety of products donated. For the first time we received ad hoc donations from Cape Union Mart and Bounty Brands and we hope to see these partnerships growing in 2020. Thank you to Edcon, PicknPay and Jonnsons Workwear who continue to support our programmes with generous donations. Our retail partners are leading the way, with their combined support of the circular economy, and the impact they are having in the lives of the Micro Entrepreneurs we serve goes beyond anything that is happening in the global fast fashion industry.

Our graduate programme is gaining traction and supporting our graduates as they move into a more independent phase of running their businesses. Truworths generously donates a portion of the stock they would historically have sold in bulk to resellers who trade through factory shops and discount clothing outlets.

We received merchandise valued at R11 Million for our graduate programme this past financial year. Many of our graduates have gone onto to achieve success by building their network of customers and continuing to supply them with quality merchandise at reasonable prices.

During 2019/20 our power partners donated a valuable amount of deadstock fabric to our enterprise development programme. The fabric donations inspired us to develop a project in support of unemployed seamstresses.

TradeUp supports the circular economy by successfully transforming excess fabric into opportunities for unemployed seamstresses by helping them generate an income in the fashion and soft furnishing industries. Our fledgling training programme runs for 12 months and covers topics such as finance and business skills needed to manage and sustain home industries and design skills needed to inspire creativity.

Read more about TradeUp

The best advice I would give my younger self

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active men


items received from suppliers


profits generated this year by beneficiaries


items sold

One Man’s Waste is Another Man’s Gold

The concept behind The Appliance Bank was formed after The Clicks Group started donating customer returned household appliances to The Clothing Bank. The damaged appliances presented an opportunity for us to recruit unemployed men and provide them with the technical skills needed to repair appliances as well as providing them with the relevant business, finance and life skills training needed to run and sustain Micro Enterprises.

TAB repairman
Every time a damaged appliance is repaired an ‘I can’ moment happens.
TAB people

An "I can" moment builds self-esteem, and self-esteem encourages social interaction, which improves customer acquisition and business growth. The Appliance Bank learning journey is structured in such a way that just right challenges meet men where they are at. Men who display a natural ability to repair appliances go on to teach and support their peers. Lasting friendships are formed and honest conversations take place in a transparent supportive ecosystem that supports change.

Our power partnerships with appliance retailers and wholesalers has grown to include, The Clicks Group, Shoprite Checkers and Home of Living Brands who collectively donated 119 444 units to The Appliance Bank over the past financial year. Our approach addresses the recycle, repair and reuse concept which prevents damaged repairable items from ending up in landfills.

We currently support 90 men through our branches in Cape Town, Paarl, Durban and Johannesburg who earned R5,4 million in profits in their businesses over the past financial year.

Trading in the informal sector has the potential to eradicate poverty. Informal traders operating Micro Enterprises need to be acknowledged for the positive contribution they make to our economy and the influence they have and the services they provide to the communities in which they live and work.

Read more about The Appliance Bank (TAB)

TCB 10 years logo

Clothing Bank and Appliance Bank in the news

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Our impact at ECD Centres


ECD Centres


(daily capacity across centres)


jobs supported


teacher interns


increase in principal salaries*


increase in teacher salaries*


average teacher salary*


of centres registered*


average fees per month

* Centres who have been on the programme for 2 years or more.
It usually takes 18 months to get registered.

GROWing 5 Star ECD Centres in developing communities

It’s undeniable: poor quality early learning for children in developing communities is a life sentence to poverty and inequality. That’s why our GROW Educare Centres are making 5 Star Early Childhood Development (ECD) education accessible and affordable while also equipping women to run professional businesses.

This year, 15 wonderfully dedicated ECD owners joined our micro-franchise partnership. GROW now has 43 ECD Centres with the capacity to educate over 2 000 children daily. These Centres are based in Cape Town (21), Durban, Pietermaritzburg (13) and Johannesburg (9). We aim to have 60 Centres by the end of 2021.

It’s a fact: ECD is the best investment you can make

Global research is demonstrating that investments in early childhood education programs have overflow effects that benefit children, families and society as a whole. Investing in a child’s early learning can even strengthen parents’ job stability and wages, and increase children’s later adult earnings. Children who attend high-quality preschool programs are less likely to need special education, to be arrested, or to require social services.

GROW kids playing
Highlights of the year

We announced our first 5 Star ECD Centres! Three centres achieved the 5 Star rating and 14 centres achieved the 4 Star rating.

We launched a fully integrated mobile app that will allow centre owners and teachers to manage their business, school and classroom from the palm of their hands. Parents will use the app to connect with their child’s individual learning journey. And as Franchisor, we’ll be able to access crucial data and make pro-active decisions to support quality early learning and professional business management.

Our M&E external evaluation study (led by Sherri Le Motte, a leading expert in the ECD sector) helped us conclude the mid-term study in our three-year study program. The study was a very valuable exercise as it confirmed that the GROW social franchise works and produces superior learning outcomes. It also gave us insight into areas that we can improve and we’ve incorporated that into immediate actions and long-term strategy.

We launched online donation capabilities through Give’nGain and BackaBuddy which now allows us to receive online donations from anywhere in the world. (Dollars and Pounds are welcome!)

We hosted our first Mandela Day campaign and were overwhelmed by the generous spirit of volunteers from all over the country who made sensory boards for our centres, donated educational toys (matched by our supplier GROW Learning Company) and stationery packs.

We launched our Adopt-an-ECD programme which allows organisations and individuals to partner with an ECD centre for a 5 year period to help them become sustainable businesses that deliver 5 Star early learning. Thanks to several organisations, 30 centres have already been adopted (a special mention to MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet who were the first to make a commitment). We require a further 30 centres to be adopted by March 2021.

We on-boarded 69 Teacher Interns through the YES Youth Employment Service programme who are now working at our GROW centres while also receiving continuous professional development and training every week.

All our teachers are actively using our online learning modules. The learning videos and tools are combined with in-classroom mentoring to bring theory into practice, and have helped us to modernise and standardise our offering.

% Increase in principal salaries 150% 100% 50% 0% 121% 2015 67% 2016 62% 2017 Year started as a GROW franchisee 37% 2018 21% 2019
% Increase in teacher salaries 100% 75% 25% 0% 94% 2015 82% 2016 79% 2017 Year started as a GROW franchisee 37% 2018 4% 2019 50%
% Fee increase since starting as GROW Franchisee 200% 150% 50% 0% 160% 2015 91% 2016 58% 2017 Year started as a GROW franchisee 51% 2018 24% 2019 100%



Jennifer Crossley from Generations Educare

After experiencing first-hand how children who are unprepared for Grade R eventually drop out of school, turn to drugs, gangs and crime, Jennifer Crossley dreamed of opening a quality pre-school centre in her community. Jennifer used all her saving to buy an ECD centre. However, with few resources at her disposal things became difficult. “There was no structure to the daily activities, the walls were dirty, it was untidy and there was no equipment,” she says. “It was frustrating, I needed help!” She partnered with GROW and is now a 5 STAR ECD centre!

GROW brought puzzles, games, equipment, outside play equipment, tables and chairs to my centre.

“They brought a teacher’s guide (a curriculum), posters and they painted my centre. My teachers and I went to workshops and did lots of training. Everything a teacher needs, they provided. Everything we need to teach, it’s right here,” says Jennifer.

“From the business side, they taught me management skills. Now I know how to run a business and my business is doing well,” she says. “I am able to pay my teachers well and GROW provides ongoing training with workshops for my teachers. I am running a good business and employing four women who are earning money for their families.”

My hope for the children that attend my school is that they will further their education and excel in their lives. I am working to be a beacon of quality education in my community!"


Kulsum Thomas from Creative Kids.com

Teaching kids is our passion but I did nothing with the numbers. The business side of things is where GROW has been so good for us!

We are overlooked as ECD centres, although the work we do is very important for children’s development. Before I joined GROW I worked out that we had been charging only R18/day per child (1$/day) - and we are giving them two meals a day. We were not getting paid for the work we were doing!

I am excited to be a brand new GROW franchisee and can already see that my centre is on track.

GROW provided us with business plans, with proper business policies like human resource policies, planning, operational hours, everything. There are no loop holes, everything is done for you. You can implement it right away. You just follow the GROW structure.

Xolani and Nwabisa with son

Xolani and Nwabisa’s story: Despite the violence in our streets my son is learning

Parents, Xolani and Nwabisa, put their son Unati in a GROW school. “I liked the environment. Most crèches we saw did not have an outside play area. Plus, this school teaches in English which is very important. He is learning a lot.” says dad Xolani. His mom, Nwabisa, says, “He can write his name and knows the colours,” says. “We do cut and paste at home and other homework. I hope my child can grow to be someone that completes school,” she says. “Where we live there are gunshots at night and hijackings. Soldiers come into our area for the crime. If you are a proud, educated person you want a job not crime, this is why it is important,” she says.

Where we live, there are gunshots at night and hijackings.

Read more about GROW

The year ahead

Unlocking Market Opportunities for Our Traders

TCB Traders

The Clothing Bank is fortunate to have sufficient supply of high-quality stock which can potentially mean that all traders should run a successful business and reach the targeted sales of R6 750 per month. There are quite a number of traders that get stuck and still operate below this level in a more survivalist business. There are challenges around transport, finding legal places to trade and developing wider networks. With this in mind we plan to develop tools that will enable her to broaden her networks and find better routes to market. We will be investing in developing a virtual “market place” solution which will aggregate all traders onto a single website/app. Our objective is to broaden the Clothing Bank trader’s network substantially and make it easier for buyers to connect with the trader to find and purchase the goods they want.

Launch of the GROW Mobile App

GROW has invested significantly in a mobile application which ensures that a centre owner can manage her centre from her mobile phone. This app will be rolled out in all GROW centres during 2020. The GROW App is proprietary built and there is nothing like it currently on the market. It has the potential to make a significant impact in the sector globally and therefore a strategy is currently being developed to rollout this App to other developing countries.

GROW app

Opening 15 New GROW Centres

GROW centre

GROW has plans to open 15 new GROW franchise centres in 2020. We are seeing growing interest in our Adopt-an-ECD-Centre model and would like thank MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and Belgotex Foundation for adopting a number of centres. A 5-year adoption ensures that an ECD centre joins the partnership, is fully transformed and receives our extensive annual support package to help the ECD owner run a professional early learning centre.

Find out about adopting an ECD centre here

Power Partners

Supply Partners

Strategic Partners



Financial report

The consolidated net surplus for the year after interest and funding was R11.1m (2019: R2.8m) which was mainly due to significant growth in grant funding from R14.4m in the previous year to R25.6m in the current year. The organisation is in a strong financial position with cash resources of R24.7m (2019: R22m). We have created a sustainability reserve of R19m, which is more important than ever, given the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has created.

Consolidated Statement of Financial Position as at 31 March 2020

Figures in Rand 2020 2019
Non-Current Assets
Property, plant and equipment 16 379 762 16 244 043
Current Assets
Trade and other receivables 3 148 979 5 605 957
Current tax receivable - 79 032
Cash and cash equivalents 24 711 556 22 097 820
27 860 535 27 782 809
Total Assets 44 240 297 44 026 852
Equity and Liabilities
Sustainability Reserve 19 225 011 -
Accumulated surplus 13 194 825 21 300 720
32 419 836 21 300 720
Non-Current Liabilities
Other financial liabilities 7 282 777 8 071 384
Current Liabilities
Trade and other payables 483 484 1 716 802
Current tax payable 37 874 -
Grant income received in advance 4 016 326 12 937 946
4 537 684 14 654 748
Total Liabilities 11 820 461 22 726 132
Total Equity and Liabilities 44 240 297 44 026 852

Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income

For the Year ended 31 March 2020

Figures in Rand 2020 2019
Sale of goods 30 759 951 28 937 364
Other Income
Grant Funding 25 649 516 14 416 680
Other Income 6 454 646 3 127 325
32 104 162 17 544 005
Operating Expenses
Administration costs 6 132 746 4 786 438
Enterprise Development Training costs 18 096 068 16 006 161
Enterprise Development Operations costs 16 928 365 14 658 985
School Establishment costs 3 916 119 4 195 229
School Support costs 2 858 955 2 982 273
Technology project costs 2 874 196 -
50 806 449 42 629 086
Operating Surplus 12 057 664 3 852 283
Finance costs (816 849) (822 389)
Surplus before taxation 11 240 815 3 029 894
Taxation (121 698) (191 169)
Surplus for the year 11 119 117 2 838 725

The Clothing Bank and Appliance Bank programmes

This past financial year was a tough one for retailers and the economy at large, and we felt the effect of this on the level of trading of our enterprise development beneficiaries at The Clothing Bank. Our sales grew by 6.3% to 30.7m, mainly due to the continued growth in sales to our graduates. Expenses of the Clothing Bank and Appliance Bank projects were R39.4m (2019: R34.3m), a 14.9% increase. We raised R10.7m in Grant Funding in the current year. We are especially grateful to the Allan Gray Orbis Fund Endowment, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the Wholesale and Retail Seta for their financial support.

GROW Educare Centres programme

Our GROW project continues to expand. In the 2020 financial year, we established a further 15 ECD centres, bringing the total number of pre-schools to 43. Grant funding for the year was R14.9m, up from R7.3m in the prior year. Total operating costs totalled R11.4m, up from R8.3m in the preceding year, R2m of this increase due to the development costs of the GROW mobile app for school management.

Final thoughts

We continue our commitment to practice the highest level of corporate governance, maintain robust internal systems and controls, and to ensure that resources, particularly donor and grantor funds, are utilised efficiently and optimally. Our monitoring and evaluation systems are well established and enable us to measure the success and impact of our projects on an ongoing basis.