One woman’s recipe for change

Sarah Collins, the founder of Wonderbag, is a South African success story. She started a small company at home which has grown into an international business that has a global social impact. LEAP has a look at this local woman entrepreneur and how her simple but powerful idea is changing the world.

The Wonderbag is a portable, non-electric cooker that will allow you to slow cook your food for up to eight hours without needing extra fuel or electricity. It’s easy to use, you simply bring food to the boil on a stove or fire, then place it in the bag where it continues to cook using the heat that has already been generated. The bag is made from colourful, machine-washable fabric filled with repurposed foam chips, with a drawstring that allows you to adjust it to different-sized pots.

Amongst the reasons why the Wonderbag is so remarkable is that it keeps hot food hot, but it also keeps cold food cold. Not only can you take frozen ice cream to the beach, but you can safely transport vaccines and medicines at the correct temperature. The Wonderbag is simple but ingenious, particularly in countries with very little, or erratic, electricity supplies.

There are 3 billion people around the world who use open fires or small fuel-burning stoves to cook their meals. It’s estimated that if the Wonderbag is used on three occasions a week, it will reduce a family’s fuel usage by up to 50%. This greatly decreases the time spent collecting firewood and cooking. This gives women more time to particulate in other activities – improving their quality of life – and it also means children spend more time in school. It reduces indoor air pollution from these fires which, according to the World Health Organisation, is responsible for 4.3 million premature deaths every year. It is a huge cost saving for families who have to buy fuel, and it saves water, minimises deforestation and is recognised by the UN for its contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions.

The Wonderbag is distributed in 15 countries around the world. When a bag is bought, a contribution is made to the Wonderbag Foundation, which donates bags to families in developing countries. For every bag bought in North America, a Wonderbag is donated to a family in Africa. More than 700 000 bags have been sold or donated around the world, and this number continues to grow. With this simple solution, one woman has changed the way thousands of families live.

The creator of the Wonderbag is Sarah Collins, a South African born in KwaZulu-Natal. She has featured as an Oprah “heroine” in the local edition of O Magazine, in 2013 Fortune Magazine announced her as one of their Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, and she has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sarah has teamed up with tech giant Dell for the #EntrepreneursUNite campaign, and has been chosen by them as the “face of African entrepreneurs”. The campaign is to empower entrepreneurs around the world by improving their access to capital, markets and technology. Locally, she is starting the #WonderWomen movement, where stories about African women are shared, with the goal of encouraging people to invest in the entrepreneurial dreams of these women.

As a powerful, South African woman entrepreneur, Sarah admits that it’s hard to
start a company from scratch. You have to learn, evolve, make tough choices and trust your gut. For her, being an entrepreneur is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Her advice for other entrepreneurs is to start small, with daily, weekly and monthly goals, and by achieving these steps you’ll reach your ultimate objective. According to Sarah, more than 3.6 million lives have been affected by her Wonderbag, bringing to life her dream of changing the world.

LEAP is a 34% black woman owned company that helps entrepreneurs to strategically develop and grow their business. For more information and advice, and to see how we can help you, call LEAP today on 011 449 7974 or visit www.leapco.co.za.

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