A week ago I had a meeting in Johannesburg with Douglas, a supplier for fabrics and leather goods. We got his contacts through our friend Gemma, an Irish lady that had started her own social enterprise in Cape Town some five years ago. We told her about our business idea, which she took immediate interest in. Together we had a good knowledge exchange, and she told us about all the barriers she had met and about the important factors that kept her going. You can say we had the same interest at heart, which is empowering women by giving them a meaningful and sustainable future. We also talked about the lack of infrastructure in Africa and why it is so important to have good and reliable suppliers on board.
And this is what led us to Douglas. The two had known each other for a long time, and Douglas had been of very good help to Gemma. He not only helped her with the materials that she needed for her product, but he also took great pride in having her as a costumer and valued her social vision.
When he heard about GoodyBags he instantly said “It´s like I´m here with Gemma, it´s exactly the type of name and business she would want to engage in”. And it was nice to have Gemma as a common point of reference. He told stories about their time together, and by the sound if it I think he would want a similar relationship with our company.
He brought his leather samples and planner, and wrote down all of our ideas and thoughts about quality, product origin and about the conscious supply chain we wanted for our business. Douglas also knows a leather manufacturer that is extending their enterprise, which will renew their range of equipment. He thought it would be good for us to take a closer look and see if their machinery matches our needs.
He also wanted to know more about GoodyBags; why it had come into being, what relationship we had to the Kwenuha girls and why it was meaningful for us to make this business a success. When showing his samples he did not only talk about quality and price, but he also mentioned other corporates that he supplied and that he thought would be interested in teaming up with us. He said that they might want to start up CSR programs, and that we could be their partner by donating offcuts and rest materials to us.
As promising as this first meeting was I really hope we will have an organic and auspicious business relation together. Douglas had a very positive attitude, and I got the feeling that the samples he brought is just a fraction of what our collaboration will entail.