Those of you who attended the previous business meeting will have learned that the production process of our Shelterbag pilot project is in full swing. The ladies are working very hard to finish the 250 shelter bags we committed to producing in time for the Design Indaba, which runs from 26-28 February 2020 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.

This prestigious event will be used to officially announce the arrival of Sheltersuit in South Africa. Bas Timmer will be the keynote speaker and during his talk a lot of time will be spent on shelter- suits and notably on our shelterbags. Early on in the process, Sheltersuit Foundation decided that the Sheltersuit currently made in The Netherlands – along with its sibling the Shelterbag – is not usable in its current form. This will be highlighted at the Conference and the first locally produced shelterbags will be launched instead. In the next few months Bas Timmer will be working on the design of a localised version of the Sheltersuit which initially will be sold on the commercial market. Eventually, our production facility will add a second production street focusing entirely on Sheltersuit.

Just as a reference, the current sheltersuit gets produced in the Netherlands at a cost of roughly 1,2000 Rands per suit (Euros 750). As South Africa does not have the luxury of spending this much on the homeless, making the sheltersuit is not feasible in South Africa which is why we need to keep the costs down to an absolute minimum by producing its sibling product. A Shelterbag could understandably be confused with an off-the-shelf sleeping bag, but it is much more. For one, it has got a pocket for personal belongings, as well as a hoodie and during the day it can be rolled up and carried with a shoulder strap. Comparable quality sleeping bags (with a hoodie) in South Africa come at a price of anything from R800 – R1,200 and upwards.

So, how did we manage to keep the costs down to its current price level?
For this we owe incredible thanks to our two main partners: Cape Coaters and Fabric Centre. Both Andrew Groves, the owner of Fabric Centre in Somerset West, and Lindi-Leigh Erasmus, the manager of Cape Coaters in Epping have been exceptionally accommodating in that they provide the materials at rock bottom prices. In fact, in some cases they are passing materials to us at cost price, in other words without making a profit. That is what we call “Service Above Self”, as the Rotarian motto goes. We should invite them to become Rotarians . So, if anyone ever needs something in that market, let’s give them our patronage.

I have added a few photos of the production process and remember, next Tuesday, after the breakfast meeting you are welcome to visit The Ark with us. We look forward to seeing you there.

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