Cool deal boost for small town

SEALED DEAL: Ikusasa Green director Mike Romer hands over the first cooler box manufactured at the Stutterheim factory to Massmart's Moshisi Lehlongwane
SEALED DEAL: Ikusasa Green director Mike Romer hands over the first cooler box manufactured at the Stutterheim factory to Massmart’s Moshisi Lehlongwane

IN Australia it is called an “esky”, in New Zealand a “chilly bin” and in South Africa we refer to it as a cooler box. Whatever you call the portable ice box keeping your drinks and braai meat cold over weekends, your next one could have an Eastern Cape flavour to it.

That is because new “green” cooler boxes are being manufactured in Stutterheim from this week.

Ikusasa Green yesterday officially opened its manufacturing plant in the town, where through a roto-moulded manufacturing process the cooler boxes are being made.

The company collects waste cooking oil from businesses and produces biodiesel from it.

The first two Camp Master cooler boxes off the production line were handed over yesterday to Ikusasa Green’s biggest customer, Massmart.

The initial order will see Ikusasa Green supply about 700 units of two types of cooler boxes to Makro and Builders Warehouse, who are owned by Massmart.

The plant will initially create more than 20 new, sustainable jobs in the Stutterheim region with a further 10 to 15 permanent jobs to be created within the first two months of operation.

Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department MEC Mcebisi Jonas said at the plant yesterday it was expected that up to 60 jobs would be created in time. He said the new facility was not only diversifying the province’s economy and aiding small town regeneration, but was closing the gap between big businesses and SMMEs.

This would help create more supplier opportunities for the Eastern Cape economy and offer quality production in return to these big businesses.

A R4-million project investment includes funding from the Local and Regional Economic Development (LRED) fund administered by the Department of Economic Development as well as the Massmart Supplier Development Fund. The LRED programme helped fund modernisation of the factory, which can produce 60 boxes a day with a potential to grow to double the size and capacity.

Ikusasa Green director Mkululi Pakade said the deal marked an economic landmark for the Amahlati Municipality and surrounding areas.

“Firstly, it enhances the brand profile of Amahlati as Ikusasa will be trading with companies that have national and international footprints, Massmart and Walmart. Through this network our product will be available for sale throughout the world.

“Secondly, new jobs will be created in the Amahlati economy.

“Thirdly, the ripple effect of bringing Massmart into the area will make it real for other companies to trade with an international retailer such as Massmart,” Pakade said.

Ikusasa Green is one of a few manufacturing firms that produce roto- moulded products using green energy.

“We use the biodiesel to power the roto-moulding ovens.The other materials we use are also 100% recyclable. Companies buying and using our product can benefit from our low carbon footprint,” Pakade said.

Massmart supplier development manager Moshisi Lehlongwane said the Ikusasa Green partnership underlined the company’s commitment to buy from small and medium suppliers. – Cindy Preller

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