SOUTH AFRICA – The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has collaborated with WearSA to launch a retail clothing store, the first design and entrepreneurship incubator store of its kind in South Africa.

Students in campus would have access to a space that focuses on the growth and development of knowledge of the local manufacturing industry. The store would stock garments from local brandslike Magents, X94, DOD, Blue Collar White Collar and WEAR.

“Eighteen students have been identified as the first intake of the incubator store. They have received training in every area relevant to this sector. Students who work and learn in this incubator will receive a monthly stipend from WearSA,” it said.

Charleen Duncan, a director for Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UWC, said it was crucial for students to think about job creation and not only job seeking.

“We want to build an entrepreneurial mindset and a pioneering spirit in all UWC graduates. This opportunity exposes students to the local manufacturing as well as the retail sectors,” said Duncan.

 “Incubators are vital within an academic space if we want to enhance the development of an entrepreneurial mindset. The store will also be a space for student designers to work with established designers and to have an opportunity to sell their garments.

“The importance of investing in youth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the manufacturing sector cannot be ignored if we want to meet the goal of creating the additional 11 million jobs by 2030 that the National Development Plan refers to.” she said.

Wayne Van Der Rheede, the chief executive of WearSA, added: “This is a first for Wear South African and Proudly South African in our campaign to strengthen ‘Buy South Africa First’, ‘Buy Locally Designed Manufactured Apparel’.

“The decision to implement this incubator store by the University of the Western Cape shows foresight by contributing meaningfully to address the high unemployment rate in our country.”

“It is a pioneering concept to promote local procurement and hence local jobs, while at the same time providing practical entrepreneurial development skills to students.” said Andre Kriel, the general secretary: South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union.

The University of the Western Cape said the store, with affordable pricing, would be situated at the Community and Health Sciences Faculty building in the Bellville CBD. UWC and WearSA had entered into a historic five-year agreement, it said.