South African entrepreneurs continue to thrive and one of our proudest exports is the Wonderbag, conceptualised by Kwazulu Natal resident Sarah Collins in 2008. Collins and her Wonderbag has just been recently recognised as one of TIME Magazine’s top 50 Genius Companies.
The Wonderbag is a non-electric portable slow cooker that cooks food, for up to 12 hours without the use of any extra fuel source. All you have to do is bring the food to the boil, then place the pot in the bag and cover it. As simple as that!
Collins developed it as a response to the deep inequalities and gender divide that she saw in South Africa. She said she witnessed many mothers and grandmothers spend days in front of a stove and girls collecting firewood instead of going to school.
Another catalyst was the load shedding we face in 2008, which further inspired Collins to take the leap.
10 years later, Wonderbag has become a global operation. The Wonderbag is sold in 52 countries and there are 1.5 million users of the product. Manufacturing of the Wonderbag is done in Tongaat KwaZulu-Natal but there are satellite manufacturing sites in East and West Africa as well as Turkey.
The Wonderbag has also been a catalyst for female entrepreneurs. It has led to 10000 entrepreneurs start their ventures like selling Wonderbags or catering businesses.
What is even more amazing is that when someone buys a Wonderbag, some of the money goes to the Wonderbag Foundation that Collins started. Through the foundation, people in rural areas will be able to get a subsidised Wonderbag that they can use.
Collins says cooking with a Wonderbag can save over 1,400 hours of work each year in rural areas, by reducing the amount of time spent over an open flame and gathering cooking fuels. This gives women time to earn an income and allows girls to go to school instead of having to gather wood daily.
Besides being honoured by TIME Magazine, she has also been named Fortune Magazine’s Top 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and was recognised as one of Oprah’s African Heroines. She also won the Women’s Economic Forum Woman of the Decade for Entrepreneurship award earlier this year.
Liesl Smit – Senior Reporter and Anchor, Smile 90.4FM News