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UK Government’s Trade Forward Southern Africa Programme Empowers Women-Owned Company to Expand Export Opportunities and Achieve Remarkable Growth


In the heart of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, lies Silver Emerald, a women-owned company dedicated to providing exceptional personal beauty care products and guest amenities for the hospitality industry. With aspirations of expanding its reach beyond the local market, Silver Emerald embarked on a transformative journey with the support of the UK Government funded Trade Forward Southern Africa (TFSA) programme. This impactful initiative has not only bolstered their exporting capabilities but also contributed to their remarkable growth, empowering them to make significant strides in the international arena. Through their participation in TFSA’s Women in Trade Export Training programme and ECDC’s technical export capacity building programme, Silver Emerald has not only strengthened their readiness for international trade but also achieved remarkable growth in the regional African market.

From Humble Beginnings to Exponential Growth:

In the second half of the FYE Feb 2023, Silver Emerald’s export revenue stood at approximately R70000. However, driven by their passion and determination, coupled with the guidance and resources offered by TFSA, the company experienced a phenomenal growth trajectory. In the first half of the current FY from March 2023 alone, their export revenue soared to just over R200,000. Silver Emerald is seeking additional distributors throughout Africa. This tremendous achievement serves as a testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence and their participation in the TFSA programme which spurred an awareness of the export readiness of their offerings.

Building Export Readiness through Training:

Recognizing the immense potential of women-owned businesses, Silver Emerald actively participated in TFSA’s Women in Trade Export Training programme. This comprehensive initiative, complemented by ECDC’s technical export capacity building programme, aimed to enhance company readiness and product readiness for engaging in export trade. These training programs not only equipped Silver Emerald with the essential skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the complexities of regional and international trade but linked the business with role players who were able provide insight, collaboration and advice on future business activities.

Understanding Regulations and HS Codes:

ECDC’s export capacity-building programme provided Silver Emerald with invaluable foundational training on international compliance regulations and international commercial terms. The training covered critical aspects such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), GGAP (Global Good Agricultural Practices), and EC No 1907/2006 on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). By understanding and applying these regulations, Silver Emerald developed practical skills essential for ensuring compliance and product quality in their export endeavours.

“It’s been great to be able to have access to the TFSA resources, from something as basic as correctly completing the SADC certificate to understanding codes that need to be used was extremely useful…….. at least when our clients were referring to specific trade acronyms or language we understood what was meant.”- Sandra

Expansion into New Markets:

Armed with newfound knowledge and expertise gained through the TFSA training, Silver Emerald not only successfully exported their products to Botswana initially but also achieved remarkable milestones in neighbouring countries. The company has solidified partnerships with key distributors, allowing them to penetrate and flourish in various markets. In Botswana, their primary distributor has not only opened a retail space but also showcases Silver Emerald’s Spirit Amenities brand with pride. Additionally, they have established a strong presence in Zambia, where a wholesale distributor in the hospitality sector recognized the value of Silver Emerald’s Spirit Amenities product range and incorporated it into their offerings after months of negotiations and agreement formalities.

Market Research and Expansion Prospects:

TFSA’s training has equipped Silver Emerald with invaluable market research insights, highlighting the burgeoning interest in their products in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Encouraged by this positive outlook, the company is actively exploring opportunities to expand into these promising markets. By leveraging the knowledge gained through TFSA, Silver Emerald is poised to conquer new territories and bring their exceptional products to even more customers across Southern Africa.

“We are now positioning ourselves to find key distributors within core markets throughout Africa, we trust that key strategic alliances would facilitate exponential uptake of our products in international markets, as such allowing for significant growth in Silver Emeralds operations……….. and we are certainly not limiting our scope, we see potential in going into the UK and America in the future”

Navigating Export Challenges with TFSA:

One of the key benefits that TFSA provided Silver Emerald was the ability to navigate and negotiate the complex export market successfully. With the programme’s resources at their disposal, the company mastered essential aspects such as completing SADC certificates accurately and understanding the relevant codes and acronyms applicable to logistics and cross-border trade. This newfound expertise enabled Silver Emerald to communicate effectively with clients, fostering strong relationships and instilling confidence in their brand.

Certified by Beauty Without Cruelty:

Silver Emerald’s commitment to ethical and sustainable practices has been recognized and endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty, ensuring that their guest amenity product line meets the highest standards of cruelty-free production. This certification together with the Proudly South Africa endorsement has not only strengthened the company’s reputation but also opened doors to new market opportunities.

Expanding Online Presence and Marketing:

Recognising the power of digital platforms, Silver Emerald wisely invested resources into enhancing their online presence and marketing strategies. As a result, they have witnessed a significant uptick in product demand, reaching customers not only in their home country but also in neighbouring nations. This expansion has solidified Silver Emerald’s position as a leading provider of personal beauty care and guest amenities in Southern Africa.

Call to Action: Investing in Silver Emerald’s Growth and Expansion:

Silver Emerald’s success story showcases the immense potential of women-owned businesses in Southern Africa and the positive impact of the TFSA programme. Currently operating at 50% 30% capacity, Silver Emerald requires financial support to reach new markets and expand their brands globally. Exporting represents an opportunity for growth for the company which would result in the potential employment of an additional 30 staff – while at the same time allowing for upskilling of staff and refining of operations and achievement of economies of scale. To sustain its growth trajectory and expand its impact further, Silver Emerald requires continued support and investment. Grant funders and stakeholders are encouraged to recognize the immense potential of women-owned businesses like Silver Emerald and contribute to their success. By investing in their growth, grant funders can help Silver Emerald reach its full export capacity, create job opportunities within one of South Africa’s regions with the highest unemployment rate, and contribute to the economic development of the Eastern Cape and the broader Southern Africa region.

ISO Certification and Resource Acquisition:

Silver Emerald aspires to obtain ISO certification, a critical step towards expanding their brand to global markets. However, acquiring the necessary resources for certification poses a financial challenge. The funding would enable them to invest in effective quality control mechanisms, ensuring compliance and providing the requisite evidence to match global standards. With ISO certification, Silver Emerald can confidently tap into new markets, reinforcing their commitment to excellence and ethical practices.

“South Africa’s unstable power supply has had a direct impact on the operations, so at the moment, from a general business perspective, we’re going through exceptionally difficult times, and trying to tap into financial support is exceptionally difficult, especially when you find yourself at the growth phase of your business.”


The remarkable growth and achievements of Silver Emerald, fuelled by the UK Government funded Trade Forward Southern Africa programme, exemplify the transformative impact of empowering women-owned businesses. Without such training Silver Emerald would not have deemed exporting as a means to achieve growth. By investing in Silver Emerald’s growth, grant funders have an opportunity to support job creation, stimulate economic growth, and promote ethical and sustainable practices in the personal beauty care industry. Together, we can empower businesses like Silver Emerald to expand their horizons, unlock their full potential, and contribute to a thriving global marketplace.