Goats new golden goose

Ivili loboya, a textile producer in the industrial town of Ibika in rural Eastern Cape, launched its debut Dedani Collection of fabrics in Johannesburg last month using fibre made from the local iMbuzi goat which it used in a variety of blends such as with silk and merino wool. Cashmere is made from the soft, fine inner hair of a goat’s coat and while the term was applied only to goat hair from the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent, usage has since broadened to all goat hair that is similarly fine and soft. Each year after winter, over 300 rural iMbuzi goat farmers comb out the goat fibre from their herds and package it to send to the Ibika mill where it is spun into cashmere yarn. Ivili Loboya, which is loosely translated to mean “Wheel of Wool”, was established by International Women’s Forum (IWF) global board director Dr Vuyo Mahlati in 2012 with initial product development, and full operations beginning in 2015. Eastern Cape-born Mahlati holds a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch with her thesis having focused on the role of value chains in mainstreaming rural entrepreneurs into global markets. Speaking to the Saturday Dispatch, Mahlati said her interest in rural value chains was guided by her passion for farming, having learnt a lot about it, particularly wool farming, from her mother. “My mother encouraged me to invest in wool processing as, having lost her mother at birth, it was income from wool that paid for her school fees in Matatiele and at Shawbury Teachers College. “I was also lucky to travel the world and see...