Tibro Training Centre has supported Furntech to build a vocational training school for the wood industry. The goal was to increase the competitiveness of the South African timber industry.
The training center has changed my life
“The education from Furntech has changed my life. I’m so incredibly happy to have been given this chance,” says Ahmed Mungalee, who has taken courses in cabinet making and wood machining.
He has also recieved help to start up his own business.
He has recently bought a small factory where he has begun the production of several pieces of furniture from his own design.
“The furniture will go on sale here in South Africa during the autumn,” he says.
Furntech started in 2000 when the Swedish furniture company IKEA had plans to locate parts of its furniture manufacturing in South Africa. The country has one of the world’s largest pine assets, with the potential of becoming a world leader in the woodworking industry. But the challenge was the lack of skills.
This initiated a Sida-funded collaboration with the Swedish Tibro Training Centre to support Furntech in creating a vocational training facility. The goal was to increase the competitiveness of the South African timber industry, as well as to stimulate the growth of new businesses, such as Ahmed Mungalee’s business, through an incubator programme.
“Our task was to train staff so that they in turn could train new students,” says Mikael Hultberg of the Tibro Training Centre, which offers wood technology training, customized corporate training, engineering licenses and other educational services linked to the Swedish wood industry.
Creating jobs is a good way of combating poverty and therefore Sida began to support the project at an early stage. Today, Furntech has seven facilities located around South Africa. Michael Reddy, CEO of Furntech, is very pleased.
“Thanks to the partnership, Furntech can offer the best timber industry training in Africa and our incubator programme is one of the best in the world,” he says.
In 2010, the second phase of the project was launched, with increased focus on design. The project pairs Swedish and South African designers where each pair works together to develop a product.
“The goal is for designers to inspire each other and create a design network. The last group of designers took part in study visits to Swedish and South African schools, which resulted in the production of furniture for schools in both countries,” says Mikael Hultberg.
Ahmed Mungalee was one of the participants in the exchange program.
“Among many places, we visited the Stockholm Furniture Fair where I got the opportunity to exchange ideas with Swedish designers,” he says.
He returned home with new inspiration and is already picturing the next project:
“I would like to work more with recycled materials and contribute to a sustainable society.”
For Sweden’s and Tibro’s part, the project has created a valuable network of designers, manufacturers and trade associations. Mikael Hultberg is very pleased with the partnership.
“We have really connected as colleagues and we can be honest about each others ideas.”
Michael Reddy agrees that partner driven cooperation is a method that works.
“ The Tibro Training Centre has enabled us to develop without losing our own identity,” he says.
Partners: Tibro training center (TTC ) and Furniture Technology center (Furntech).