Connect with us


Stitch Wise: Natalie Killassy

Stitchwise first came to prominence in the local mining industry by perfecting a geotextile material used in what is known as backfill bags.

Juliet Pitman



Natalie Killassy

The mining industry has been one of the hardest hit by the recession. Mines across the country have seen massive retrenchments, capital expenditure budget cuts and the implementation of across-the-board cost-cutting measures.

All of this has had a knock-on effect on businesses that supply the industry. In short, it’s not the best market to be in at the moment. Unless you are Natalie Killassy, that is. In the past year the CEO of Stitch Wise has received international recognition for her contribution to economic development in Africa and has perfected a new product that will save mines money, and improve their safety performance.

The company first came to prominence in the local mining industry by perfecting a geotextile material used in what is known as back fill bags. Killassy explains how they work: “When rock is extracted from underground it comes to the surface and is processed to extract the gold. The waste left over is pumped into back fill bags which release water but retain particles. The filling solidifies and becomes an active support mechanism, reducing the magnitude of earth vibrations and rockfalls and improving ventilation in the tunnels.”

The bags have been in use since the 1980s but Stitch Wise perfected the material out of which they are made. “Previously,a lot of the waste leaked out but our material allows only the ultra-fine waste and the water to escape. This makes for a stronger, safer product,” she explains.

It’s a product that put the company on the international mining map, and the past year saw it being further perfected. Killassy’s latest innovation means back fill bags can be filled with layers of earth and steel meshing known as reinforced earth, rather than mining material waste.

It’s safer, can withstand greater pressure underground and enables mines to continue to recover gold ore left over in waste material. “It will also save mines money on electricity costs because the new system is less dependent on cars for waste material transport.

The development was driven by our desire to come up with more cost-effective products for an industry that is under the financial whip,”Killassy adds. This year Killassy also bagged the international Veuve Clicquot Business Women of the Year award for Economic Development, a recognition for innovation, sustainability and social impact.Uplifting disabled people and providing them with opportunities is important to the company and some 50% of its workforce is disabled.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



Prev1 of 26


“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

Prev1 of 26

Continue Reading


Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.