Investor creates hundreds of jobs in four months


MASERU – Quantum Apparel (Pty) Ltd, an investor in the textile and garments, has employed a total of 500 Basotho workers in the last four months since its opening.

Quantum Apparel is a textile company with two units in Thetsane industrial area which has taken over the former Middle Sky and Sun Textiles since February this year. It falls under the Duty Free Sourcing Inc., a key role in the advancement of Lesotho’s struggling garment industry.

Duty Free Sourcing Inc. was established in 2012, it is however not a new investment company as it continues to make double every year, the more clients come. It to supports its factory (Quantum Apparel) production and sourcing needs and has expanded to support other manufacturers which include Lucky Manufactures, TZICC, Afro Expo Textiles to mention a few. They place key focus on developing people within the industry and transferring knowledge to Lesotho people.

During a press briefing held on Tuesday this week, Quantum Apparel Director Kumara Kahadugoda said until now the entire Lesotho only followed a Cut, Make, Trim (CMT) business model. He said when he came to the country there was only manufacturing so Quantum introduced the concept to not only manufacture but also design garments. He said last year they got an opportunity from the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) to build factory buildings.

“Quantum Apparel has two units of which Unit One has so far employed about 150 Basotho running four lines and once the factory is completed it will accommodated 350 people. On the other hand, Unit Two accommodates 350 Basotho workers running seven lines and once completed it will accommodate 1 000 workers and about 16 lines. Our plan is to employ 20 000 or more Basotho within the next five years.

 “We do the A to Z productions in Lesotho, from sourcing orders for the company and distributing to shops for selling as we have open accounts with companies in South Africa such as Mr Price. We plan everything beforehand by looking at what is selling in the market, which products will be used the following year, design fabrics, and develop prints and colours. We own our orders and they will not go anywhere else; they will stay here in Lesotho,” he said.

While explaining what a production line is, Quantum Apparel Admin Manager Lebohang Molikoe said it is a group or people or team which works on one material until its final process. He said for example, if they are sewing a jacket, the jacket passes through stages of sewing until it reaches the last person which is its final stage. He said one line may be working on a T-shirt while the other is working on leggings and consists of different numbers of people ranging from 35 to 50.  

Research also states that a production line is a configuration that consists of a set of processing steps. At each step, the manufacturer performs an operation or task that moves the product closer to becoming a finished product.

Kahadugoda added that they have set up committees within their borders as a way of ensuring that employees are protected at work. He said they are going to need all the support they can get from LNDC, the Ministry of Labour, among others and if they secure such support they can change the country in a positive way.

He said they also believe in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which is why they have given back to the communities through shelters.

On the other hand, Afri Expo Textiles Founder Teboho Kobeli said it is important that Basotho understand the textile industry and in that way it will go further towards more ownership of the sector. He said it is important to originate orders from Lesotho and that everything will be better instead of the mere CMT model.

Kobeli said Afri Expo Textile has collaborated with the Duty Free Sourcing as they came handy to Basotho thereby reducing the high unemployment rate.

LNDC CEO Molise Ramaili said although the textile and clothing industry is still facing critical challenges of downsizing of employment due to declining global markets exacerbated by other external shocks, including the Russia-Ukraine war, the Red Sea attacks and delays at the Durban Harbour, Lesotho is now beginning to experience some positive developments.

“These positive developments are where some companies are expanding their production base and, as a result, yielding significant employment. Today, we are at Duty Free Sourcing which is a company that was established in 2014 to serve the South African market. It started as a sourcing company providing CMT orders to other factories and it has recently ventured into production while also continuing to source orders for other factories.

“Duty Free was allocated two factory shells, following closure of some companies to generate the much needed employment for Basotho. The company has currently created 500 of jobs and it is expected to generate 1 650 of jobs at full capacity. These remarkable strides are worth noting to give Basotho hope that this sector still has potential to be restored to where it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.” he said.

Ramaili emphasized that LNDC continues to aggressively provide support to ensure that the textile and clothing industry is revived. He said just two weeks ago, LNDC in partnership with various stakeholders such as the USAID-ATI project, CAFI – through the World Bank, the International Trade Center (ITC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) held workshops to strengthen Lesotho’s capacity to competitiveness on the global stage.