The story of StitchWise is a story of hope and of innovation, it is also a story of defying convention as the StitchWise team challenges the conventional thought that social entrepreneurship and profit cannot work hand in hand.
Based at the heart of the deepest gold mines on earth, StitchWise employs many paraplegic men; victims of devastating mine accidents. Any oversite in safety underground can result in floods, fire, mud rushes and fall of ground (FOG), accidents that injure and kill. Many of our employees are visible reminders of the ever present dangers underground. These employees spent years extracting the rough ore from underground and they have rebuilt their lives into shining examples of gold by developing their skills. Our employees now manufacture safety critical products that help save the lives of their friends underground.
With the physical damage comes mental challenges too as our employees desperately try to adapt to their loss of mobility. Like the rough ore, it would take adjustment, refinement and polishing to bring out the best in each of our employees and add real value to their shattered lives. Now these employees have become the most shining examples for disability, and to StitchWise, they are fine gold.
In 1996, StitchWise started teaching members from our community, both able and disabled, a new skill – sewing. Sewing machines and overlockers were adapted for use by our paraplegic employees. We also work on changing the mindsets of our disabled employees and encourage our employees to not see themselves as disabled, but differently-abled.
StitchWise is committed to enhancing and uplifting all our employees. We continuously have accredited learnerships presented at our offices in our training center. We understand that that the mining industry in South Africa is under pressure and that many mine workers are struggling to keep their jobs. If StitchWise can assist in any form or manner and ensure that members from our community have additional skills, then we know that we are on the right path.
Our employees own 51% of our company. StitchWise is also a level 1 B-BBEE contributor.