Profile of CONTIGO´s partner Kapula

Supply chain

  • Trade partner: Kapula, medium size enterprise
  • Function: Producer
  • Structure: Own production facility
  • Distribution: Direct import CONTIGO


Bredasdorp to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

Candles and ceramics (till 2022)


Bredasdorp, province Western Cape, South Africa – distance to Europe: 9,600m

Founded in 1994


  • Ilse Appelgryn loses her teaching job during apartheid and decides to revive the family business, candle making
  • 1996: Hiring of 6 employees
  • 1998: First delivery to Berlin/Germany
  • 1999: Opening of Kapula-Gallery in Bredasdorp
  • 2000: Number of employees rises to 40
  • 2000: Participation in Expo 2000 World Fair in Hannover/Germany
  • 2000: Ilse Appelgryn receives award (KAP from Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cape Town)
  • 2000: CONTIGO meets Kapula through a German church community
  • 2003: Start of ceramics production (hand painted)
  • 2006: Employee number rises to 250
  • 2008: Most successful year due to partnering with large clients such as UNICEF
  • 2009: Worldwide economic crisis leads to loss of many larger customers
  • 2010: Year of big changes (problems and conflicts with a German minority shareholder)
    • February: Kapula is closed down
    • April: Restructuring with the help of CONTIGO as well as German and Austrian Fairtrade and worldshops: a new beginning with large orders from CONTIGO and Woolworth South Africa
    • December: Payment of bonuses to employees
  • February 2011: First annual report since reconstruction verifies a positive outcome
  • Since January 2012: New ceramic bisque factory with modern tunnel furnace is established
  • Improvement of sanitary facilities
  • 2015: Certified member of WFTO (=World Fair Trade Organisation, guaranteed member)
  • February 2016: Take-over of the ceramic factory Intshiba, also in Bredasdorp, adoption of all 17 ladies (bisque makers, painters), provided with ordinary working contracts, all social benefits und regular and punctual payments and other benefits of the Kapula culture
  • May 2017: Take-over of another ceramic manufacturing company, which is threatened with closure, with 16 employees and equipment
  • 2018: Kapula invests in new production equipment:
    • second blunger (mixing machine for clay)
    • second holdingtank for ready mixed clay
    • two further dryers for the drying room (for faster drying of bisque moulds)
    • Kapula is the leading producer of handmade ceramics in South Africa
  • 2020: Situation under Covid pandemic
    • March: complete lockdown of production. Kapula applies for funds from the Covid 19 unemployment insurance (UIF) for all employers, which are granted with a delay. The salaries can still be paid with small discounts.
    • May: Production resumed with 20% of the workforce (30 employees). No orders from South Africa, South African customers in the “Business Rescue” program, payment of liabilities suspended.
    • September: 75 employees can be reemployed
    • By October: heavy losses due to the collapse of the tourism industry (35%). Hardly any demand on the domestic market. The total order volume in October has shrunk to a quarter of the previous year
    • December: staff increased to 105 employees
  • 2021: Restructuring and optimisation of production, training of employees to be able to react even better to the changing order situation caused by the Corona pandemic
  • 2022: Kapula terminates its membership of the WFTO at the end of May due to the high membership fees and unrecognisable advantages for Kapula and its customers
  • 2022: Due to technical problems in the ceramics production (unreliable electricity supply and the lack of availability of clay and glaze), Kapula is forced to drastically reduce the ceramics workshop. A majority of the employees from ceramics change to candle production.

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2000

Why does CONTIGO work with Kapula:
CONTIGO has no other trading partner with whom it has such close ties. The rescue of Kapula from insolvency in 2010, caused by a hostile attack from outside, made the start. This required an enormous financial effort by CONTIGO, supported by other lenders and the worldshops. The preservation of all jobs, the development of the ceramics production and the modernisation of the equipment are a result that makes all of us proud. We were and still are close to all what happened in Kapula and to their people. We have known many of the employees personally for years. CONTIGO and Kapula are like a family.


Structure of the business


Number of employees:

114 employees (98 women, 16 men)

  • 11 employees in middle management, thereof 10 women
  • 50 employees have been working at Kapula for over 10 years, thereof 13 employees are with Kapula over 20 years
  • 46 women are single mothers
  • 41 women earn the basic income (bread winner) for their families
  • 42 employees have proprietary

Work environment:

7 sections:

  • Handcraft (production of candles, casting of blank shapes) – 17 employees
  • Hand painting (painting of candles) – 20 employees
  • Two bisque factories (production of bisque ware for ceramic) – 18 employees
  • Two ceramic factories for painting and glazing – 32 employees
  • Packaging store (packaging and shipment) – 13 employees
  • Gallery (showroom and retail outlet) – 2 employees
  • Administration, sales and accounting – 12 employees

Work equipment and organisation of workforce:

  • Work division in the departments:
    • Supervisor organises every single production step in the department and on the tables, depends on individual skills. Trouper helps new employees
    • Supervisor keeps records of attendance and daily production
  • Regular meetings and agreements with supervisors and responsible persons of every department:
    • Every Monday: production meeting
    • Every Tuesday: meeting of the middle management with the responsible persons of every department
  • Cross training of employees to be skilled in more than one work discipline: trouper teach new employees and re-educate other employees (e.g. from candle painting to ceramic painting)



  • Exports (45%)
    • Predominantly to Germany
    • Small orders from Austria, UK, Denmark, Italy, U.S.A., Australia, Sweden
  • Home market (55%)
  • 25% of Kapula business is from CONTIGO purchases


  • To introduce a pension scheme
  • To establish online marketing
  • To early amortise the loans given for the new start in 2010 by CONTIGO and the German and Austrian worldshops

Special features

  • Recycling / wax scraps are recycled:
    • Selling on to a producer of wax crayons
    • Production of BBQ charcoal lighters
    • Selling on to beekeeper
  • Awards:
    • 2000: Ilse Appelgryn receives the “The Black Management Forum’s Western Cape Entrepreneur of the Year” award



Fairtrade classification

FTA = Fairtrade Approved


Fairtrade aspects

Kapula complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV

Employees from different ethnic groups (Coloureds and Xhosa) have been working at Kapula for many years.

Fair wages

  • South African minimum wage (since February 2021): ZAR 21,69 / hour (ZAR = South African Rand)
  • Wages at Kapula:
    • Minimum wage for beginners: ZAR 3,853 / month
    • Later: gradual wage increase (depending on skill and experience)
    • Employees in production: ZAR 3,853 – 4,700/ month
  • Employees receive a monthly fixed wage
  • On the last Friday of a month: wages are paid into employees´ own bank accounts
  • In case of overtime: compliance with Labour Law on overtime rates (x 1.5 on working day, x 2 on Saturdays)
  • Bonus payment at the end of the year: ZAR 500-800 / employee
  • In July of each year wage negotiations take place: wages are adjusted to match and better the official inflation rate


Humane working conditions


Working hours:

  • 8.5 hours / day
  • Working hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm, Monday – Thursday, Friday: 8 am – 3:30 pm
  • 2 breaks (breakfast: 10 – 10:15 am, lunch: 1 – 1:45 pm)
  • 5 days / week

Social benefits:

All employees receive the following benfits:

  • Contributions are paid to governmental UIF (= Unemployment Insurance Fund), employee and employer pay each 1% of monthly gross salary
  • Kapula pays an accident insurance for all employees
  • Paid leave:
    • Holidays: 15 working days and public holidays (company holidays: 15.12. – 11.01.)
    • Employees who have been with Kapula for over 7 years receive 2 more extra holidays
    • Compassionate leave of 3 days per year
  • Wage continuation:
    • In case of sickness: 30 days paid sick leave over a three year cycle (thereafter UIF pays appr. 75 % of salary)
    • Maternity leave (one month before due date and three months after birth): Kapula pays one week wage continuation, thereafter UIF pays the rest, appr. 38-60% of average income of the last six months, depending on income level)
  • Health care:
    • Company agreement with local surgeries about medical services of employees (and their families): private medical service costs appr. ZAR 300-400 incl. drugs, costs are paid by Kapula and will be deducted from monthly income in small instalments
    • Health care service in public clinics and hospitals are free of cost for everyone
  • Common celebrations and activities to strengthen the good working atmosphere

Educational opportunities:

  • Regular trainings and further educations for “occupational safety”, “fire protection” and “First Aid”
  • Paid leave for further education courses
  • In-house training is done between factories, multi-skilling of employees

Occupational safety:

  • Working gear and protective clothing is provided
  • Mandatory safety committee is available
  • Regular safety and fire drills
  • Every factory has its own trained first aiders and safety representative


  • Work contracts are available
  • Payroll is available
  • Pay slips are available
  • Annual report submitted to CONTIGO
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO



  • Personal visits in Bredasdorp (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017)
  • Feedback interview during several visits in Germany
  • Member of World Fair Trade Organisation WFTO (Guaranteed Member) from 2015 till 2022
  • Regular social and safety audits by Kapula´s biggest customer in South Africa (Woolworth)


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: South Africa



Visiting Kapula – November 2017

Ceramics Werkstatt Handpaint_1 Handcraft2 Handcraft1 Ceramics_ladies Guss

Visiting Kapula – February – March 2012

The new furnace – January 2012

Visit February 2011

Bonus payment 2010

Visit August 2010

Visit February 2010

Visit 2007

Author: Janina Lange on 1. June 2022

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