Founded in 1998, Ultramaille is a textile company specialising in knitwear and knitting. Based in Ambatomaro, this company founded by Frédéric Wybo currently employs more than 800 people and exports its production to Europe, the United States and South Africa.
Since 2016, the company has been supported by Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), through its I&P Afrique Entrepreneurs 1 fund, the second investment vehicle of the I&P family entirely dedicated to financing and supporting small and medium-sized companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 2016, the partnership between I&P and Ultramaille has stood out for several achievements on both the financial and strategic levels, including: the diversification of the company’s clientele with a move upmarket.
Also, the contribution of technology in production thanks to an investment of €800,000 (including €500,000 from I&P); and the development of the ‘handmade’ range, which has enabled Ultramaille to access new markets, particularly in knitted and crocheted accessories.
From the very first months of the partnership, the company evolved from a SARL to a SA. A new form of governance was set up with the creation of a Board of Directors, which brought more rigor and methodology.
The partnership has steadily progressed over time, particularly during the last year, with the implementation of Lean Management, made possible in large part thanks to I&P’s technical assistance line, as well as the establishment of various Management Committees.
Led by Frédéric Wybo, Mialy Ranaivoson (Investment Director, I&P Madagascar) and the entire management committee, Ultramaille has worked to enable the banking of all employees, the vast majority of whom are women, for reasons of security, savings management and finally to facilitate their financial integration.
Some key figures and data: • Number of jobs created and maintained: 700 permanent jobs, more than 250 fixed-term contracts, 72% of jobs held by women; • Number of sweaters exported: 200,000 to 250,000 pieces per year, 80% of which are exported to Europe (France, Belgium) and 20% to South Africa • I&P investment: 500,000 euros for a total investment of 1 million euros • GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification A successful exit in a particularly difficult Covid context In 2020, one year before I&P’s planned exit, the Covid-19 pandemic hit Ultramaille hard.
The company lost 38% of its turnover, orders were refused, cash flow was under pressure, and the closure of Madagascar’s borders to the world led to a difficult social situation. “It was a terrible time, both professionally and personally.