WATCH | Pandemic gives uniform manufacturer's business growth and happy returns

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  • Three years ago, Pretoria based entrepreneur Happy Shabangu turned his former branding company into a textile manufacturing business.
  • When the pandemic started more than two years ago, Shabangu decided to manufacture cloth masks for government and private corporations in order to survive. 
  • Shabangu's pivot into cloth masks saw his business grow beyond his expectations, receiving one of his biggest orders in terms of value and quantity from government entity Transnet.

Three years ago, Bizrocket Trade and Projects founder Happy Shabangu pivoted his business from promotions and branding services to a textile manufacturing company, producing school uniforms, corporate clothing and embroidery. 

"We decided to branch out of printing because it was very demanding at that time because of the scope of work. One moment you're branding a car, the next moment you're branding water bottles for a wedding," Shabangu told News24. 

But shortly after that pivot, he had to redirect his Pretoria-based business again. 

Alert level 5

When the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the hard lockdown was enforced, the 34-year-old entrepreneur had to become savvy to survive.

"One day, I saw an advert for people in the clothing industry to submit their documents to the department of small businesses. The department of small businesses then created a list of suppliers across the country that can manufacture cloth masks."

And just like that, Bizrocket Trade and Projects went into mask manufacturing. 

READ | WATCH: Woman starts baking business after surviving Covid-19 and losing her job

And the business gamble worked. 

"We are grateful to have grown in a time when businesses are experiencing a decline. We have now found ourselves new clients," Shabangu said.

Transnet on the tracks

Last July, he received a significant order - South Africa's rail, port and pipeline company Transnet ordered 44 000 branded cloth masks. 

However, the order did not come without its fair share of challenges. Shabangu told News24 that they had to raise about R600 000 to cover the overhead required to complete the order. 

"When I received the letter of award for the Transnet tender, I was elated. It was our biggest order as a business in quantity and value. So it was a big deal."

Bizrocket skyrockets

In the future, Bizrocket Trade and Projects was looking to secure more long term contracts. 

"We are a small business, and sometimes certain goals and dreams seem unattainable. However, Covid-19 accelerated our growth, and we are looking to grow even more as we get more demand for... school uniforms and corporate uniforms," Shabangu said. 

Shabangu's team had so far produced more than 400 000 masks. 

"I was with my wife the other day, who is the company's chief operating officer, and we were passing the office of the Chief Justice, and I said to her, 'who would have thought we would be delivering to that office'," the entrepreneur said. 

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