Cashmere Queen

Astute businesswoman Vuyo Mahlati is a social entrepreneur with a passion for business in all its forms. She’s currently spearheading Africa’s first cashmere fabric manufacturer

What: Ivili Loboya

Where: Near Butterworth, Eastern Cape

Start-up capital:  R5,7 million

Turnover: R30 million

Mahlati has several impressive accomplishments to her credit. She’s the Deputy Chairperson of the African Financial Group and was part of the team who devised SA’s National Development Plan. Her most recent venture, Ivili Loboya, produces cashmere from the soft inner hair of local indigenous iMbuzi goats.

This work is significant, she explains, because it utilises a natural, sustainable resource owned by communal farmers and provides them with new income streams.

“Most importantly, the quality matches that of global cashmere, so we’re proud that as Africans, we’re producing a competitive product. And it’s the right time to be doing this. Our research shows that our continent’s growing middle class is discerning in its fabric choices and looking for natural fibres,” she says.

Mahlati’s targeting high-end apparel and decor markets both locally and abroad, while striving towards inclusive value chains that give the rural economy a boost. Ivili Loboya’s debut Dedani Collection comprised woven and knitted textiles, as well as a variety of fabrics, including blends with silk and merino wool.

“‘Dedani’ means ‘get out of the way’ in isiZulu. We chose the name because we intend to storm SA’s textile industry, using local natural fibres and grabbing a niche for ourselves in the global luxury fabric market.

Source: Destiny Connect, July 2017