sandbag desert design

sandbag desert design: desert design

Cairo and others, EgyptGermany
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

"sandbag desert design" is an intercultural design label that provides fairly waged work for poor and marginalised Egyptian women, gives young designers from Europe and Egypt an opportunity to interchange experiences and know how with traditional craftswomen and combines joy of fashion with global justice.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if design became a tool to adress gender inequities, to grow income and jobs in a situation where little else will bloom, to integrate into the heart of society groups whose challenges would otherwise place them at the fringes of the world. Design an
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Due to the post-revolutionary situation in Egypt most handcraft producers suffer from the lack of tourism in their country and are trying to expand to other markets. International markets become more and more important for their sales quantity. Yet many products that formerly were selling easily as souvenirs for tourists do not fully comply with the requirements of the European markets. This is where the idea of “sandbag” comes in. “sandbag” wants to preserve the unique skills and techniques of Egyptian handcrafts and at the same time make them capable of competing in European markets. The present market opportunity arises from the fact that while there are different initiatives that have Egyptian poor women produce handcraft goods (such as scarves, jewellery and bags) to be sold on the European market, those goods mostly do not match German market demands in terms of design, kind of products, quality of material used and quality of manufacturing. The project aims to meet market demands in a more successful way in that it brings in young German and Egyptian designers in order to fruitfully fuse the oriental appeal of Egyptian traditional design and techniques with modern European design, high quality material and manufacturing. This also benefits the producing women as their products will generate more revenue and be better able to help them improve their living situation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We are planning to establish a new label under which poor Egyptian women from marginalised sections of the Egyptian society produce handcraft products particularly suited for the European market. The project will not only trade the products fairly but also set up a community fund for the women out of which they will be able to make small investments in their community on an annually or bi-annually basis, enabling the producing women to increase their economic autonomy, improve their living situation in a self-determined way, and benefit their wider communities. Economic success is to be achieved through combining traditional Egyptian design and techniques with modern European design as well as high quality material and manufacturing methods in order to suit the European markets better than existing handcraft products traded from Egypt. If we can provide an average income of 100 EUR for each of our producers, she will earn more than the average income in the poor areas of Egypt, which is about 80 EUR. The target is to put about 500 poor women in work at the first stage. Further on we want to provide work for up to 1000 and more women and to raise their income step by step.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In order to start up the business, we would spend the award for 1) a creative design workshop in Egypt, at which 2 German and 2 Egyptian designers will design 6 prototypes (such as tablet PC case, muff, hand bag, toilet bag, scarf, hat) in co-operation with leading women from 3 different Egyptian women handcraft projects, for 2) the production of 10-20 pieces of each prototype product for 3) transport to Germany and toll and for 4) promotion of the new label and marketing of the products in Europe. Important partners It is an essential aspect of the business model to build up a network of producers and retailers. Some webshops and Berlin based retailers already are our partners (such as transmarina.de and “One World” shops, yet numbers of both online and offline retailers will be raised during the implementation phase of the project. Equally, the enterpriser will expand the network of Egyptian producers – while one pilot co-operation (with the FanSina women project on South Sinai peninsula) has been established on a micro scale for market testing purposes, more producing women initiatives are currently being assessed and will eventually be included (such as Old Cairo Women’s Network and and the ‘Zabaleen’ garbage collecting women project in Cairo). More co-operations are envisioned when revenues allow. Core Activities The core activities consist a) in the development of new and optimised products (scarves, bags, accessories etc.) that match the requirements of the respective European market in terms of shape, design and quality, b) in the provision of access to European markets for poor Egyptian women producers and c) the generation of additional support to them via fair wages and the establishment of a community fund. Core Resources The uniqueness of sandbag products, combining Oriental style with modern design and high quality, provides us with an individual position in the market from which we are however able to reach a broad market segment. We already have first reliable partners such as webshops and Berlin based shops. Its fair trade and further ethical commitment provides ‘sandbag – desert crafts and design’ with additional leverage. Value proposition Through a prefinancing of materials and products for the first production round we are enabled to develop high quality design and products in co-operation with our producers, in order to start up as a business that will provide European customers with a unique assortment of products which combine highest quality, Oriental style and modern metropolitan design with fair wages and additional ethical investments. As unique high quality provider of the respective products we will be able to sell according to premium pricing, benefitting our producers both financially and socially and enabling them to invest, thus supporting the fight against poverty in Egypt and the advancement of fair trade between Europe and Egypt. We also provide fair trade and other shops with handcraft produced under an ethically committed high quality label so as to expand their assortment. Our customers (B2B and B2C) will get an extraordinary and unique product that transcends function through creativity and skill and serves a greater good at the same time. Customer relations and distribution channels We will meet our customers in webshops, retail shops, fair trade platforms, on design and handcraft markets, as well as at business fairs. Marketing channels Webshops Social Media: Facebook page Advertisements in Berlin Underground trains Social entrepreneur platforms Fashion Media Fair Trade Media Business Fairs Direct marketing Via existing business and NGO networks Personal networks Customer Segments - Fashion and fair trade retail - Working women, age groups from 25 to 65, city population, individualist, for whom creative life-style products are important - Men and women with interest in Oriental design - People leading a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHA), for whom fair trade/ethical investment is an additional incentive for purchase Source of Income Profit via sales

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We are still in the implementation phase of the project and provided work for about 50 women so far.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In the first year we will enable and encourage up to 500 women and other marginalised groups in Egypt to use their skills and to manually manufacture their unique products. In the second year we aim for 1000 and 1000 more every year. After 10 years there could be tens of thousands women and marginalised people in work. The model is highly adaptable for other countries as well so that we could stretch out to the whole MENA region and other areas with a powerful artisan sector. We are aiming for a business volume of 10.000$ in the first year and want to grow as soon as revenues allow.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are aiming to adress the highly profitable industrial sectors like mobile providers, banks, insurances and airlines. We are aiming for a business volume of 10000$ in the first year and want to double every year.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

As can be seen at webshops such as etsy.com and dawanda.de, there are other producers who market Egyptian handcraft products. Most of the time, such products are simply imported from Egypt and only suited for a very restricted target group interested in traditional Oriental produce and have thus very limited market penetration as they do not satisfy wider market demands both in terms of design as well as quality. The products to be marketed in the present project aim to reach wider market segments by improving design and quality.
Team

Founding Story

I am living in Egypt since five years and learned that the "poor artisan"paradigm that is promoted in Europes "One World" Scene is wrong. Artisans and other handcraft producers from the Global South are not actually poor, but rich. The immaterial values, traditional skills and cultural assets which they can contribute to the global community are enriching, fascinating and valuable. If we are able to save, promote and make these treasures available to a wider public, we will help to revive traditional skills, promote self-sufficiency and encourage education.

Team

Tarek Khalifa - purchasing, quality management, logistics Tarek is an experienced business owner who has been engaged in retail business in Egypt since more than 30 years. As he used to direct a chain of shops – mostly fashion, accessoires and gifts - he is experienced in management, has economic knowledge and is experienced in handling suppliers and clients. He has a broad network of Egyptian multipliers and cooperation partners.
About You
Organization:
sandbag desert design
About You
First Name

Sabine

Last Name

Wessels

About Your Organization
Organization Name

sandbag desert design

Organization Country

, BE

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Cairo and others

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Project
Year founded

2014

Impact
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date?

To one of the women projects, close contacts are established and a pilot production of handcraft products has been distributed in Germany, however without the now intended design and quality upgrade. The other contacts to two women projects in Cairo have been established via personal contacts to NGOs working with these women projects (New Horizon Association for Social Development, 14km e.V., Association for the protection of the environment).

sandbag will be starting up as a conventional webshop for Egyptian handcraft and design on the online platform "fraisr" by the end of the year. Our fundraising for the workshops will be increased as well.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

- Political situation in Egypt endangering production and transport of products

The turmoils around the ouster of former president Morsi were never directed against foreigners and they have shrinked in the last weeks. We will cooperate tightly with the security department of the German embassy to ensure that we wil just visit quiet areas of Egypt as for example the Red Sea areas.

- Difficulty of ensuring highest quality of manufacturing versus established production standards.

We will have a tight quality management and will just purchase those products that apply to our standards.

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

With regards to the products to be produced and sold, the innovation lies in the merging of traditional Egyptian design and manufacturing methods with modern, young European design, and the high quality of material and manufacturing that the European markets demand. The project also draws on recent emergences of creatively designed recycling products in Egypt (such as those supported by http://www.ape.org.eg/).
With regards to the solution against poverty integrated into the project, the innovation lies in the fact that the products will not only be fairly traded, but that in addition to that, the project includes the establishment and filling of a community fund for each of the participating women projects. Through this fund, they can not only benefit themselves and their individual family with their earnings but will be able to undertake an investment in their community every one or two years, which will provide them with additional opportunities, status and scope for self-determination.

The target is to provide a fair chance of competitiveness in international markets and real value creation for people in developing countries. We provide our knowledge about and access to the markets, while the artisans provide their fascinating skills and traditions. In a true collaborative partnership with the local artisans we ensure that not only fair prices and working conditions are secured, but we also share the profits we realise. With this money they are able to realise community-projects, such as wells, libraries, etc. Thus we aim for a community-oriented form of production that enables the people in the villages to be independent and make a living by creating unique items.

The idea of improving products by international interchange of designers can be applied to any other region and field of work. Thus the idea can be spread and transferred easily.

Sustainability
Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The present market opportunity arises from the fact that while there are different initiatives that have Egyptian poor women produce handcraft goods (such as scarves, jewellery and bags) to be sold on the European market, those goods mostly do not match German market demands in terms of design, kind of products, quality of material used and quality of manufacturing. The project aims to meet market demands in a more successful way in that it brings in young German and Egyptian designers in order to fruitfully fuse the oriental appeal of Egyptian traditional design and techniques with modern European design, high quality material and manufacturing. This also benefits the producing women as their products will generate more revenue and be better able to help them improve their living situation.
Income will be generated by profitably selling the products which are designed in a joint design workshop and produced by the women projects, both via the co-operation with the fair trade webshop Transmarina as well as via direct marketing in European shops with a fair trade assortment.
- Working women, age groups from 25 to 65, city population, individualist, for whom creative life-style products are important

- People leading a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHA), for whom fair trade is an additional incentive for purchase

With the help of the requested start-up funding, the project is expected to generate its first profits after 21 months. In the start-up phase (month 1-7), prototypes and first 60-100 products will be produced and sold. Any earnings from this phase will be reinvested in the creation and production of more products in order to diversify, adapt and improve the assortment and increase sales in the second phase (month 8-14). After the third such circle (month 15-21), the project is expected to generate revenue to be inserted into the community fund. After the fourth circle (month 22-28) the project is expected to generate profits for the undertaker.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

I am living in Egypt since 5 years and meeting Bedouin women in Sina, garbage collectors in Cairo and artisans from all over the country I have learned the following: Marginalised Egyptian women are not actually poor, but rich.
The immaterial values, traditional skills and cultural assets which they can can con­tribute to the global community are immeasurably enriching, infinitely fascinating and uniquely valuable. Unfortunately, these cultural values are about to disappear. Industrial mass production replaces more and more traditional craftsmanship. If we are able to save, promote and make these treasures available to a wi­der public, we will also help to revive traditional skills, promote self-suffi­ciency and encourage education.

We wish to make people curious and to win hearts - with handicrafts, tradition, cultural heritage, as well as with a spirit for delicacy, intricacy and individuality, and with people’s passionate love of life and enthusiasm, the pure creative pleasure of artisans and the fascination of unknown, hidden cultures.
"sandbag" is a statement for a new, value-oriented, sensual and authentic luxury which captures and shares the zest for life of various cultures.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

It is desireable for us to cooperate with public stakeholders that support the projects anyway. As far as we see there is a lot of public funding wasted these days because it is just preserving the projects without to strenghthen the outlet. This is where "sandbag" comes in and will help to make the projects self-supporting again.

Women Powering Work
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Training and education such as skills workshops, entrepreneurship courses, apprenticeship opportunities

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Group learning experiences such as hands-on learning projects, cooperatives, collectives, support groups, and more

Comments

Lherilyn Latiff's picture

this is a great idea. teaching hand-on skills for better living.

Sabine Wessels's picture

Ich freue mich über jeden Tipp und Hinweis zur Weiterentwicklung und Umsetzung meiner Idee.

Sabine Wessels's picture

Hi Lherilyn, thank you for your friendly feedback. It#s good to read that others believe in the idea too.

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