I love design. I love functionality, practicality and problem solving solutions. Beautiful business has been inspired by sublime design epitomising the craftsman’s skill, the artisans eye and the crystal clarity of simplicity. As William Golding suggested ‘the greatest idea are the simplest’, whilst Ken Segall talked about the ‘power of simplicity’.
Wonderbag upwards and onwards
This exciting beautiful business is all this and more. At pains to make clear that this is still a business and not a charity, Wonderbag is the inspiration of social entrepreneur Sarah Collins. Courted far and wide, Wonderbag is a beautiful business which is invited out to dinner! Now in partnership with the likes of Unilever and others (such as Microsoft, Frog and Collins), lauded by politicians and media alike, the Wonderbag has been covered by a wide variety of sources from Ecopreneurist, Sailing Today, The Guardian, The Times and even Horse & Hound. This is a product which needs little publicity from me but might serve as a lesson to other would-be change makers of the need for strategic relationships, knocking on the right doors…and of course having a great product! Partners seem eager to get on board, not only for business reasons and increasingly healthy sales, but also for the environmental and humanitarian boxes it ticks.
Its a relatively simple design which doesn’t look technically sophisticated. It is a colourful insulated bag with a draw-string top. Perhaps, like many great ideas, the genius is in its simplicity, in how it continues to work free from complication, free at the point of use. The owner kick starts the cooking process in the traditional way but before the food is finished, taking up valuable fuel, time and energy, the pot can be removed, placed in the Wonderbag and left to finish cooking, literally under its ‘own steam’. According to the Wonderbag website nb-wonderbag.com
- It can reduce a family’s fuel usage up to 30% – saving money and easing poverty
- It reduces CO2 emissions
- It reduces toxic fumes which means less respiratory problems and other diseases, particularly in children
- It reduces accidents in the kitchen, because stoves are used less
- It reduces time spent cooking, giving more time for child-care and other activities
- It saves precious water. When the pot is insulated in a Wonderbag at a fairly constant temperature, less evaporation occurs, so less water is needed
- It saves food. 20% of all staple food in Africa is burned, due to pots being placed on open fires and unregulated stove tops. With the Wonderbag no burning happens
Working in conjunction with big business, Wonderbag can provide eating and environmental solutions to massive numbers of people and has just launched a major initiative (25th January 2013) to distribute 100 million Wonderbags across the world with the support of global organisations such as Unilever. Wonderbag’s 100 million bag initiative was recognised as a viable model to deliver social empowerment and mobility to some of world’s poorest communities.Saving precious natural resources by significantly reducing the use of cooking fuel, the Wonderbag empowers women through fuel-poverty alleviation and freeing up time for income-generating activities – creating jobs and increasing disposable income throughout the developing world.
“With the help of our partners, we’re on a mission to see 100 million Wonderbags in homes around the world, saving more than 100 million tonnes of carbon over the life of those bags. That’s equivalent to over 200 million people avoiding long-haul flights.” says Sarah Collins, the Founder. “In just one year, the impact of having 100 million Wonderbags in use across the world would save 170 million trees, 15.6billion litres of water as well creating as many as 100,000 new jobs and $3.6 billion in disposable income. The activation of the 100 million bags initiative comes after a year of significant change and continued success for the Wonderbag which has seen it launch into Rwanda, Kenya, Turkey and the UK. The organisation actively seeks to launch in to countries and communities identified with high poverty rates, a shortage of fuel supplies, a high incidence of health problems associated with air pollution, and/or injuries resulting from fuel fires”
This beautiful business promises to be a significant player in the creation of sustainable futures and poverty reduction for many. A technologically simple design becoming a simple solution and a global phenomenon. Maybe this is a wind-up radio, gravity light, pop-up tent moment. Is the Wonderbag an answer to resource use and a reduction of emissions and waste? Yes. Does it cook food successfully? Those who use it say yes and that it continues to ‘cook’ food after the formal process has finished.
Liberation for women?
The proof of the pudding will be in how women use the freed up time. Hans Rosling the Swedish social health expert suggested a while ago that the single most important contribution to gender equality was the development of the washing machine. In the same way, the Wonderbag promises so much, but changing culture, tradition and values might be somewhat harder? Launched in some of the most patriarchal and traditional cultures, lets hope that the cooks, like Roslings washers are able to use any new found free time effectively not just for their families but for themselves. As Jac Squire from Wonderbag says
“…many of the Foundations who have researched and are funding interventions in the developing world see Women as the key to changing the cycle of poverty to one of prosperity. The wonderbag not only frees up their time for alternative employment, but it reduces the amount of times women are exposed to violence (most rapes occur while collecting firewood and water}. Reducing the spend on fuel also reduces their reliability on the men in their communities and delivers at least 30% more disposable income which translates very quickly to shoes on kids feet and schooling. It is known that educated mothers feed their children more nutritionally, and so the cycle can start”.
News from Wonderbag: Every time someone buys one in the UK/Europe, we give one to a family in need in South Africa. We can do the right thing by ourselves saving time and money while reducing our energy useage, but also we can share all these savings with a family in need.
For further information on the Wonderbag phenomenon see nb-Wonderbag.com