The Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town and Wesgro, with the support of FNB and RMB, have today launched a dedicated digital Marketplace that connects businesses needing to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with suppliers and manufacturers thereof. This platform provides a single place for suppliers to promote their product ranges, and for businesses to find what they need.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier says, “We firmly believe that if done responsibly, the economy in the Western Cape can open up while preventing the spread of COVID-19, and so we are committed to supporting businesses through this crisis. To avoid a return to a hard lockdown, it is an imperative that every business that is operating now, or in the future, plays by the rules, and implements the necessary health and safety measures as instructed by national government to avoid further negative impacts on their respective sector. The PPE marketplace is one of the many ways that we are supporting businesses to ensure their workplace is healthy and safe for both staff and customers.”
As measures to ease the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa phases in, more businesses will start re-opening. Although, these measures are somewhat less restrictive, it still does not mean that it will be “business as usual”, which is why businesses need to continue adhering to health and safety protocols such as the wearing of cloth face-masks to protect workers from infection and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace. Therefore, companies are now required to provide every employee with a minimum of two cloth face masks, free of charge.
Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management within the City of Cape Town, commented: “The City provides funding support to the clothing and textile sector, which is testament to our support for this vital sector in the local economy. We have succeeded in assisting with the re-purposing of companies to pivot towards meeting the needs of the health crisis. Specifically, Special Businesses Partners of the City’s Department of Enterprise and Investment, the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster (CCTC) and the Craft & Design Institute (CDI) have, through consultation with their members, provided critical insight into the sourcing and supply of cloth masks from both large manufacturers and small to micro enterprises. The production of PPE is vital in ensuring our businesses can get back to work in safe environments and to ensure that businesses stay afloat and productive in this crisis. I am proud that Wesgro is able to utilise this database in their Maskathon drive by providing a useful link on their support business website for companies wanting to procure masks for their employees”.
The Marketplace has a growing list of large, medium and small manufacturers producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and operating under conditions that promote the health and safety of workers, amongst other things. The platform allows you to view product information and submit a quote request directly to the manufacturer/ supplier and allows business to source masks from large to small suppliers.
Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, added: “We are happy to be helping businesses access a range of PPE’s from one central portal, quickly and easily. Together with partners like CDI and CCTC, who helped design the platform, we aim to get work to manufacturers across the Cape”.
Additionally, many vulnerable South Africans face an increased risk of exposure to the Coronavirus with little to no protection at their disposal. Over 5 million fabric face masks need to be donated to indigent people throughout the Western Cape province. That is why an initiative called the Maskathon Challenge has also been launched along with the Marketplace to encourage businesses to donate fabric face masks to the underprivileged, through non-profit and various charity organisations of their choice.
Stephan Claassen, Provincial Head of FNB, said: “These initiatives demonstrate the value that can be unlocked through effective partnerships and collaboration. RMB and FNB are pleased to act as an initial anchor off-taker by procuring the protective wear masks for our RMB and FNB employees, from various Marketplace suppliers. We want to use this as an effort to spark activity at various smaller CMT businesses and assist the suppliers across the manufacturing industry with opportunities to produce goods, thereby creating jobs where it is most needed.”
JM Erasmus, Regional Head of Investment Banking for RMB further elaborated: “We trust that this can contribute to mobilise South African businesses to also procure via the Marketplace and we are encouraging our clients within all our networks to follow suit. Not only will they be mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on their employees, they will also play a role in reviving an important sector in the Western Cape economy by supporting small, medium or large suppliers, according to their preference. At the same time we hope that these businesses will participate in the Maskathon Challenge, and that each Marketplace order will be accompanied by a mask donation for impoverished communities.”
The Marketplace can be accessed through the COVID-19 Content Centre’s website at www.supportbusiness.co.za/marketplace/ and businesses wanting to donate to the Maskathon Challenge can go to https://maskathon.co.za/