There is a lot of talk right now about the need for more high-impact entrepreneurs in Africa, those people who can make a difference on a large scale and find effective and affordable solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the continent.
Sarah Collins, founder of Natural Balance Global, better known as Wonderbag, is one such high-impact social entrepreneur who has created an empowering solution to affordable and safe cooking practices for women, particularly in rural communities, whilst at the same time creating income generation opportunities for them too. Sarah is a South African adventurer, entrepreneur, and lifelong social activist. She thrives on challenges and has worked tirelessly over the past two decades to inspire change in the realms of gender-equality and environmental sustainability.
Sarah Collins has worked in social development for over twenty years. She spent the majority of her early career in the field of community-based ecotourism, founding two projects in Botswana. She founded an NGO, Take Back the Future, which trains young people to take ownership of their natural resources, game reserves and parks. Sarah also started Woman Forward, a political party in South Africa focused on rural development for women.
Since 2008, the Wonderbag has been her passion and focus. The bag is made from an insulated material in which people can cook anything. Food that has started cooking is placed in the Wonderbag and the insulating properties allow food that has been brought to the boil to finish cooking without the use of additional energy and so significantly reduces carbon emissions. Climate Action sat down with Sarah Collins, Wonderbag’s founder, to find out more.
Having been involved with community-based ecotourism, founding the NGO, Take Back the Future, and founding the Wonderbag business, what has given you the inspiration and drive to achieve so much?
I think the answer is that I grew up in apartheid South Africa- which was quite traumatic in some ways- I became political from a very young age. We were an entrepreneurial family too- my dad said you never say “no” you say “I’ll make a plan”, so that’s how we grew up. We grew up in a solutions based family- instead of looking at something as just a problem we always saw a solution. In Africa we were fortunate to have travelled a lot and spent time in the bush – you become quite resilient. I always wondered why I was constantly involved in social development and my father said I was like that as a young child; I questioned the discrepancies in South Africa. I just deeply care about people and I knew the only way to be successful was to turn my ideas into a business.