Annie Sibindi Muronda, a disruptive clothing manufacturer with a big vision — Lionesses of Africa

After an 8 year career in financial services Annie left to follow her true passion of building a disruptive, African manufacturing company in 2014. Under Annie’s leadership, Rufaro Garments has built a vertically integrated end to end manufacturing capability supported by bespoke distribution of uniforms through brick and mortar and online outlets. Rufaro Garments has found particular resonance in the burgeoning affordable independent schools market and now provides stylish yet affordable school uniforms to over 40,000 students across South Africa. The business employees 65 people.

Lioness Weekender spoke to founder Annie Sibindi Muronda to learn more about what it takes to build a growing specialist manufacturing business in Africa.

What does your company do?

Rufaro Garments manufactures and distributes quality school uniforms through traditional brick & mortar stores and an ecommerce platform. Being vertically integrated gives us the flexibility to control costs and quality and allows us to tailor custom solution for our clients. Rufaro Garments has found particular resonance in the burgeoning affordable independent schools market and now provides stylish yet affordable school uniforms to over 40,000 students across South Africa.

What inspired you to start your company?

I was inspired to start my company when I saw the high cost of school uniforms and realized that good quality uniforms were largely reserved for the elite private schools or former model C schools. My aim was to disrupt this status quo by improving access and reducing costs. In addition, there has been an explosion of affordable school networks in South Africa the last few years. These networks have an aggressive growth strategy and need a similarly aligned partner.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

We control the entire production process end-to-end meaning that we do not only manufacture the uniforms we distribute it. Because we a vertically integrated we are able to reduce costs and offer a customized solution to our clients in terms of how we distribute the uniforms.

Tell us a little about your team

We have a young and growing team. The majority of our staff is made up of young black females which reflects our values of empowering our community and creating shared value and are always seeking to provide opportunities to motivated and skilled young people. However in doing so, we also rely on the guidance of myself and our CFO given our vast experience in the corporate world.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

The journey has been a long one with many challenges, but also many fulfilling moments. Entrepreneurship forces you to exercise and develop skills and muscles beyond your normal range. It’s daunting sometimes, but those who are brave enough to step outside their comfort zone will often reap the rewards.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

Our goal is to continue to scale the business and grow our market share. We continue to improve our manufacturing operations and aim to be on par with top tier garment manufacturers across the globe. We also aim to be a market leader in making school uniforms more accessible through e-commerce and technology solutions.

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is full of challenges and uncertainty and often it is easy to lose focus of why embarked on this journey in the first place. I derive the most satisfaction when I see school children wearing our uniforms, in seeing the growth of company and how many lives we touch on a daily basis in terms of not only clients but our committed staff who day in day out give their all to make Rufaro what it is today.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

Clarity of thought. It is important to always revert back to the “why”, why did you start the business and what are you trying to achieve”. Once you are clear on your vision and purpose it is equally important to build a strategy that will enable you to fulfill that vision. Although your strategy document might change or evolve over time, your purpose and mission will help to keep you focused and grounded.

To find out more about Rufaro Garments, contact Annie via email: or visit the website: or visit the Rufaro Garments social media pages:


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