The Beanbag Specialist: From Garage Start-Up to Industry Trailblazer

Launched in 2020, The Beanbag Specialist is a 100% Black female-owned company that locally manufactures all types of quality beanbags. The business initially started out as a hobby in 2019, during the height of the COVID-19, operating from Busi Msimanga’s (Director) home garage in Edendale township, KwaZulu-Natal.

Journey through the Accelerator

The SME joined the eThekwini Furniture Cluster’s (EFC) Accelerator in March 2023 and steadily progressed through the rigorous screening and capacity building phases to develop and deliver a compelling business pitch aligned to customers’ needs. The Beanbag Specialists’ potential caught the attention of three big customers- Mr Price Home, Homewood and Sheet Street- when pitching the value proposition in the cluster’s “Dragons’ Den”. Busi’s notable passion for bringing the beloved but seemingly long-lost beanbag back into the spotlight and people’s homes landed her the “Industry Gamechanger” award.

The SME has since unlocked the potential opportunity to supply both Mr Price Home and Homewood with various beanbag products. To date, Busi is in continued discussion with both retailers to confirm the customer requirements, deliver samples and progress the identified commercial opportunities.

BMA | Busi beanbag specialist

Figure 1: Busi Msimanga of The Beanbag Specialist recognized as the “Industry Gamechanger” in the 2023 EFC Dragons’ Den

Impact & Growth

The Beanbag Specialist has now outgrown their home garage setup and moved into a bigger premises in Edendale during July 2023. The small team is currently made up of 3 people who initially worked “as needed” – Busi (Director), one sewer and one “all-rounder” who assisted with orders and packaging – but have now transitioned to working full time. Having already hired a part-time employee to assist with business development opportunities, Busi is looking to gradually grow the team to 8 full time employees.

The business is also awaiting the anticipated arrival of a granulating machine that enable the business to take a giant leap towards sustainability, as the machinery will be used to grind their own polystyrene from collected waste materials for beanbag stuffing, provide a more sustainable packaging solution for finished goods and empower them to provide recycled polystyrene supply to other vendors.

What lies ahead for the Beanbag Specialist?

The Beanbag Specialist has been onboarded as a member of the eThekwini Furniture Cluster and is undergoing several financial, risk and diagnostic assessments to understand the current state of their business and identify what prioritised interventions should be implemented to enable the business’s accelerated growth.

Through the Accelerator, Busi and her team have also gained first access to a Lean Manufacturing workshop focused on world class customer delivery and tour of Mr Price Home’s main distribution centre in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal. This opportunity has been pivotal in enabling The Beanbag Specialist to implement improvements to their current operations to drive productivity and competitiveness.

“Winning the most innovative award is surreal. I can’t believe it. We were up against high standards of presentations, businesses, and skills that were showcased [in the Dragons’ Den]. I didn’t think that I stood a chance. Being here today is life-changing for me, and I’m excited about the future. This award is validation and confirmation that I’m on the right track.” – Busi Msimanga, Director of The Beanbag Specialist

The cluster would like to thank eThekwini Municipality and participating leading retailers Mr Price Home, Homewood and Sheet Street for their continued support of the Accelerator, and commitment to empowering Black industrialists and driving the economic transformation of the local furniture sector.