Courtesy of Wonderbag


Changing cooking, for good

“People often think technology start-ups only come out of Silicon Valley,” says Sarah Collins, speaking from nearby her factory in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. “But I’m a tech start-up too.” Actually, her start-up is impressively low-tech. The Wonderbag is a heavily insulated container that functions as a non-electric, go-anywhere slow cooker. After users boil a pot of food over a stove or fire, they can move it into the Wonderbag, which retains heat so the meal can continue to cook. It’s an elegant approach to solving multiple problems in sub-Saharan Africa: how do you reduce dependence on fossil fuels, while also freeing up women in those societies from time in the kitchen so they can pursue education and employment? From manufacturing a handful of Wonderbags a week ten years ago, Collins has steadily expanded to the point where this year will mark 1.5 million in use worldwide. Wonderbag has also helped increase the income of over 500,000 women across 20 countries, many of whom sell or make the bag, or use it as part of their catering businesses. This year, the company partnered with the Red Cross to bring Wonderbags to refugee camps in Uganda and Rwanda. “Food is the one thing that unites the world,” Collins says. “Often we need to look out of the box to look at change.” —Suyin Haynes

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