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Tracey Gilmore

Tracey is the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of The Clothing Bank. She spent most of her early career working with small businesses in the service and manufacturing industries. She believes that reducing inequalities through access to decent work and income generating opportunities must be prioritised if we want to see an inclusive South Africa. She focusses her efforts on creating realistic sustainable small business opportunities that allow unemployed men and women to develop and grow so that they become financially and socially independent. Prior to starting The Clothing Bank, Tracey founded an NGO called Dress 2 Impress, which supported low income unemployed women wanting to enter the work place by providing them with appropriate clothing and support for interviews. Tracey is responsible for the operations of the 5 branches of The Clothing Bank, ideation and implementation of new projects.

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Taking Care of Business (TCB)
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Hybrid Social Enterprise
South Africa
Areas of Impact
Africa, South Africa

Taking Care of Business (TCB)

The Clothing Bank's mission is to create income generating opportunities for unemployed South Africans so they can eradicate poverty in their lives. It achieves this by helping the unemployed become self-employed by starting businesses.

The Clothing Bank has three projects. Its founding project, called The Clothing Bank (TCB), develops strategic partnerships with most of South Africa's retailers who donate all of their excess (customer returns, end of season or bulk merchandise) to this project. The product is then used as a tool to teach unemployed mothers how to start small retail trading businesses. Mothers are recruited and enrolled in a comprehensive two-year holistic programme that enables them to learn business and life skills so that they can run a sustainable business within two weeks of joining the programme, trading in the clothing purchased from TCB with the aim to earn at least $330 per month.

Its second project, The Appliance Bank (TAB) uses donated electrical appliances to teach unemployed men to repair and sell these appliances. The third project is a pioneering microfranchise that aims to build a national brand of quality, inspirational, aspirational, fee-paying early childhood development centres in low-income areas. The Grow with Educare Centres project has successfully developed a microfranchise model that is simple, replicable and provides school owners with all the resources (curriculum and equipment), intensive training, business mentoring and coaching needed to manage an education facility that is also a viable business.

The Clothing Bank measures whether business owners are successfully eradicating poverty by using its Poverty Stoplight Tool. This tool, pioneered by Martin Burt, enables the poor to take responsibility for their own journey out of poverty. They can conclude with confidence that people who are successful on their programme are able to eradicate poverty in their families. The Clothing Bank has won many awards for its innovative solution, including the Western Cape Premiers Award for Entrepreneurship (2017), the Regional Businesswomen of the Year Award (2015) and the African Philanthropy Award (2015).


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