Friday, June 21, 2024

Ishmac making strides in the footwear industry

The International Shoe Manufacturing Centre (Ishmac) PTY, established in November 2021, has rapidly become a notable player in Botswana’s footwear industry. Officially starting production in January 2022, Ishmac has diversified its offerings, producing a wide range of footwear from school shoes like Toughees and Grasshoppers to work-wear boots, fashion shoes, and sandals for both men and women. The company also produces leather bags, further showcasing its versatility in leather goods.

Ishmac’s dedicated team of 14 staff members adapts to the workload demands, with the capability to produce between 40 to 100 pairs of shoes per day. This output depends on the volume of orders, which can necessitate both day and night shifts to maximize production capacity.

Ishmac targets a broad market spectrum, including individual consumers, companies of all sizes, government institutions, and retail buyers. The company’s current clientele includes individuals, small companies, and government institutions, with ongoing negotiations to expand into retail markets with the support of the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).

The company is also actively seeking to penetrate the mining industry. By participating in supply development programs such as Tokafala, a partnership initiative of Debswana and Anglo-American, Ishmac aims to secure contracts with major mining operations like Morupule Mine, Mowana Mine, and Debswana.

Although Ishmac has not yet supplied products to security forces, the company is focused on enhancing its capacity and quality to meet the stringent demands of this sector. To support this growth, Ishmac has applied for an expansion loan from the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). The acquisition of advanced machinery, including a lasting machine capable of producing 1,000 pairs in 10 hours, is expected to significantly boost production capacity.

From its inception, Ishmac has benefited from LEA’s support in market access, business management training, and financial management. Relocating to Selebi Phikwe, Ishmac has leveraged LEA’s software for accounting and financial management, which is crucial for business success. LEA’s letters of support have also been instrumental in securing tenders and contracts.

To protect its original designs, Ishmac has engaged in intellectual property training provided by LEA, ensuring the safeguarding of its innovative creations. Moreover, Ishmac participates in the Gaborone Leather Incubator program, benefiting from subsidized rentals and additional training in business development and market access.

Addressing challenges in penetrating the public sector procurement system and the shortage of skilled manpower in shoe manufacturing, Ishmac has launched an education and training initiative. Through this program, institutions that enter long-term contracts with Ishmac can benefit from free training for up to five individuals in shoe manufacturing. This initiative is currently benefiting districts like Letlhakane, Selebi Phikwe, and Serowe.

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