“We can’t afford to sit back and let the 2030 deadline go by without actually effecting change. We must make this reality,” said Collins, referring to the SDG deadline. “The COA is endorsed and supported by big-hitters such as Unilever, Dell, Huffington Post, and Jane Goodall with COA partnerships centres currently being set up in SA (Africa), USA, and UK.”
“It’s absolutely brilliant when large corporations and organizations support initiatives like these, which might start small but have a game-changing potential in terms of impact on society and business.”
Is one of the companies that have a long-term commitment to women entrepreneurs on every continent. “We are thrilled to offer women like Sarah the technology and access to networks and markets to scale their business and impact globally,” said Elizabeth Gore, Dell Entrepreneur in Residence.
The Wonderbag, with Collins as its fiercely passionate founder, is well-placed to steer this SDG-linked initiative. With 8 years of data on hand and over a million bags sold around the globe, the Wonderbag has been recognised as a real poverty-fighting solution by Forbes as well as Davos World Economic Forum and the United Nations. At home, Fairlady recognized Sarah for her role as a change-maker and leader, awarding her with the 2016 Woman of the Future accolade.
“We’ve proven that women who were once living on $0.20 per day, now – thanks to the Wonderbag effect – now have $2 per day to live on. That is a huge success. Women also have more time, dignity and freedom,” says Collins.
Research shows that Wonderbags have a direct positive impact on deforestation whilst addressing gender inequality, creating entrepreneurs as selling agents, giving moe time to enable them to become economically active citizens. The cookers also reduce death and disease from indoor air pollution, and getting girls away from endless cooking and firewood collecting and back into schools. All of these benefits link directly to core objectives set out by the United Nations.
“I believe the world of business and economic developments are intrinsically linked. The only way to see real shifts out of poverty and a removal of the status quo for women living in inaccessible, rural areas is if we can get the right data to support innovation that is culturally relevant to these marginalised communities,” shares Collins. This data is also part of Collins’ bold move as the organisation becomes more ‘data-heavy’, banking critical information in “data-less” communities to develop high-impact interventions. And to partner with business using this data as a key leverage point.
The COA is right on market trend with the shift in big business from predictable rote “CSI programmes” to purpose orientated brands with real development to make “billions of lives betters”.
The COA launch included the showcasing of Hout Bay High (HBH) revamped Wonderbag School feeding programme that proves that government, entrepreneurial learners, and nutritional innovation can together revolutionise school feeding programmes – that can be applied across the continent.
HBH is well known for its successful, commercial vegetable gardens that are run by its learners and supply local restaurants. These gardens not only replaced the dump sites around the school but also currently generate a consistent income that is managed by a very entrepreneurial Environmental Committee.
Like many other schools across the continent,over a 100 students come to HBH school on empty stomachs every day. The Wonderbag partnership, sought to address this by bringing on board well-known, ex-Unilever chef, Ursula Rohrs, to explore how the standard, state-issued ingredients, generally unappealing to the students, could be used with their produce to persuade hungry students to eat healthily – and not just survive of their preferred packet of R3 chips every day.
The project took four months to complete and recipes were handed over to the school to pilot with students. The school cook and a selection of students were trained on how to prepare these meals. The impact of the Wonderbag will also be tracked as part of an energy-reduction project run by learners.
Parents of learners attended the event – with over 200 families having snapped up a subsidised Wonderbag. This is particularly valuable for impoverished communities, as by using a Wonderbag 3-4 times a week, each home can save up to 30% on their monthly energy costs, cut cooking time in half, and families are at a lower risk of injury and disease caused by fumes, smoke and fire typically used to cook.