HomeCORPORATE NEWSEGP empowers female entrepreneurs to survive the impact of the global pandemic

EGP empowers female entrepreneurs to survive the impact of the global pandemic

As part of our ongoing support to South African owned businesses, Enel Green Power RSA provided generous support to Marice Rooibos Skincare to ensure the business survives these trying times.

Committed to improving the lives of people in the communities we operate in, and as part of our Creating Shared Value model, Enel Green Power (EGP) RSA provided funding to small enterprise owner, Marice Mercuur. As the winner of the Western Cape Female Entrepreneur award, Mercuur operates her skincare business, Marice Rooibos Skincare, in the Western Cape Province which is close to our Paleisheweul Solar Plant.

What began as a solution to fight her daughter’s eczema grew into a business with several clients. Mercuur offers skincare products that she previously manufactured by hand using natural products and which have helped many people who suffer from eczema, as well as those who prefer to use beauty products that don’t contain any artificial ingredients or preservatives.

The imminent closure of the Marice Rooibos Skincare business amid the Covid-19 pandemic

In 2020, when COVID-19 hit South Africa, the impact was greatest felt by small businesses and entrepreneurs. Mercuur’s business was heavily reliant on the retail and tourism industry, with sales dropping as a result of the national lockdown measures and nearly driving the business to shut down. The funding support from Enel Green Power came in the nick of time.

“The first tranche of funding I received from Enel Green Power enabled me to procure raw ingredients, a toxicology testing machine, and packaging equipment for my natural range. This unlocked many other doors which were stagnant in my business. I was able to upgrade my manufacturing studio, which meant I could increase my production capacity. I was also able to invest some of the funds towards developing a new website to market and sell my products online.”
Marice Mecuur, owner and founder of Marice Rooibos Skincare products.

Empowering women to unlock their full potential

With high levels of poverty and unemployment in our country, it is critical that corporates invest in and support local businesses in the communities they operate in. By offering funding to the Marice Rooibos Skincare business, Enel Green Power unlocked many opportunities for Mercuur.

Before the funding support, Mercuur had approached Wellness Warehouse, a high-end retail chain that specialises in the sale of natural skincare products, in the hopes of supplying skincare products to the company. Mercuur was unfortunately turned down by the company as it already had a rooibos skincare range and felt her products did not meet its stringent requirements.

The funds helped Mercuur to revamp her product range to meet the standards required by Wellness Warehouse. So much so, that in February 2021, she was contacted by the company’s marketing manager and informed that they were impressed with the enhanced quality of the products and interested in stocking her range. Wellness Warehouse allowed Marice Rooibos Skincare products to be stocked at two Wellness Warehouse retail locations, namely the V&A Waterfront and [email protected], as well as the opportunity to sell the products via the Wellness Warehouse online store for a three-month trial period.

Marice Rooibos Skincare products have since achieved great traction and Mercuur has been offered space in two additional locations, one in Pretoria and the other in Durbanville. “Sales are growing steadily and so is my client base. I am confident that I will eventually have my products stocked by all 30 stores under the Wellness Warehouse umbrella,” she says.

Unlocking employment opportunities

The support of this black industrialist is in line with national priorities as set out in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that aims to reduce the reliance on imported goods and boost the growth of South African businesses and create much-needed job opportunities.

Supplying products to Wellness Warehouse has allowed Mercuur to expand her business and to hire and empower five employees. Mercuur’s partnership with Wellness Warehouse requires that employees are trained and that stock is delivered on time. Marice Rooibos Skincare employees are highly knowledgeable in all things skincare-related, thanks to Mercuur’s guidance and insights.

“We aim to empower people so they can empower others. The more people who are economically active in a community, the greater their capacity to contribute to the greater economy, which will reduce poverty,” said Lizeka Dlepu, Head of Sustainability at Enel Green Power RSA.

Mercuur’s growing range meant she needed to travel to Cape Town regularly to ensure everything was on track with the Wellness Warehouse contract. Enel Green Power assisted her with additional funding, which she then used to purchase a small vehicle to make deliveries to the respective stores. The more stores she supplies, the more people she requires to assist her in ensuring that each product meets the Wellness Warehouse requirements.

Future plans

Mercuur expresses her gratitude to Enel Green Power, saying that if funds were not received when they were, the business would have been a distant memory. Mercuur plans on exporting her products to other parts of the world, which requires that the products are compliant with export regulations.

“The greatest hurdle now is to conduct additional product testing, which costs about R50 000 per product. I currently have 13 products in my range which means I require R650 000. To fund the testing process, I aim to increase my sales by at least 75% over the next six months.

“The future of my business is bright, and with Enel Green Power having the belief in me and my business, I can continue aiming for and achieving greater heights,” she concludes.

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