Scene 1: Creating Interest in Wonderbags

Thursday, October 30th


The Energy Team was invited to the forum of 45 Early Childhood Development (ECD) leaders by Rina, from the Business Bridge class. We had talked about this forum with our sponsor Cindy on Monday and we agreed it would be a great opportunity for our project. We also got a better understanding of the relationship between Peter and Office of Sustainable Livelihoods when we met with Cindy, therefore, we decided to ask Peter to come to the forum with us to present Wonderbags to the crèche leaders. Max, Cindy’s colleague, would drive us to Business Place, to meet Rina and Peter, and then to Khayelitsha for the forum.

Cast of Characters

Peter sells Wonderbags, and used his sales experience to explain how the Wonderbags worked and the benefits of them. He also provided us with another Wonderbag to use and market.

Max works for the Office of Sustainable Livelihoods; he previously worked for the education department for four years. He drove us to the Business Place and then to the Khayelitsha Early Childhood Learning Center. His experience living near and working in the informal settlements provided many valuable insights. He also acted as a translator for us when the women spoke in Xhosa.

Rina is a leading member of the ECD community. Rina lead us to the Childhood Learning Center, introduced us to the forum, and helped to control the discussion. She also translated when the women spoke Xhosa.

The Early Childhood Development community met with us and listened to Peter and our presentation of the Wonderbags.


The forum took place at the Khayelitsha Early Childhood Learning Center. This is a fairly large crèche located in Khayelitsha. There were a total of twelve classrooms, a large social space, a variety of small periphery rooms, and a playground outside. The picture below shows Jing, Rachel, Tati, Peter, and Rina in the social area. The picture blow that shows the playground outside the crèche. There were around 60 crèche leaders and ECD community members present, not including the four women actively teaching classes. There were also three classes in progress; each class had roughly fifteen students, aged four to seven.  Most of the rooms had been converted to meeting spaces for the day. The classrooms were connected into one large meeting hall where 45 women gathered and held their forum.

Peter and the ladies

Jing, Rachel, Tati, Peter, and Rina in the Crèche


Playground Outside of the Crèche


The day began shortly after 10:00 when we arrived at the Business Place with Max. Peter met with us there and we waited for Rina to arrive. This was our first experience with African time, where it is customary to be late. While we were waiting, Peter and Max discussed their different opinions on business models, with Peter preferring the for-profit business and Max preferring the NGO. Rina arrived around 10:45 without a car, so we split into Max and Peter’s cars and drove to the Khayelitsha Early Childhood Learning Center. We waited in the lobby while the women discussed other topics. There were two classrooms with young children, so we played with the children while we waited. The picture shows Rachel and Tati meeting the children. Max connected very well with the students; he sang and danced with them. After playing for some time, we were invited into the large meeting room to present to the forum.

Tati and the Kids

Rachel and Tati with the Children

The presentation did not go as anticipated due to Peter’s sales pitch. After Rina introduced us Peter began explaining the Wonderbags. Then, he told the women our names and a short introduction who each of us were. He spoke in depth about the Wonderbags, telling the women how to use them, the benefits of using them, and going over different recipes that can be used with them. Also Peter briefly mentioned our project’s goals. He spoke in English, which the women understood. After his twenty minute speech the women had many questions for him. They asked him about the cost, and seemed excited to hear it was only 210 Rand. The structure of the meeting began to break down, and all of the women began asking questions, with most speaking in Xhosa. Peter had prior arrangements, and had to leave rather abruptly. Also, the women had a strict agenda to keep, so we left shortly after Peter.

Reflection and Learning

We had hoped to speak more to the women in the forum; however, time did not allow us to interact as much with them as we would have liked. Despite this, we believe we accomplished our goal of getting these women interested in the Wonderbags and started to create the demand needed to get them sold. One thing that helped get the women excited about this product were the four forum members that have already use the Wonderbags before. They have the most influence when it comes to selling the product. We were able to understand Rina’s position among the crèche leaders better during the forum. She sat at the front, which showed that she has more influence than we previously thought. We plan to extend the opportunity to her of being a potential entrepreneur and having her crèche as a distribution point since she has helped us already and we have gotten to know her well. Since she has such a big influence among the other women, we think that if she starts distributing them, other crèche leaders will be interested in buy and selling the products.

Max was very insightful throughout the day; he provided us with a lot of good ideas and voiced his opinion with regards to our project ideas. After the forum, we asked if he thought it was appropriate to ask Rina to be an entrepreneur and work with us to create a distribution network as well as to visit the crèche during working hours so we can see how it is run. He thought it was a fantastic idea since it will repay her for helping us so much already. We hope to continue to share our thoughts with him as our project goes on; we even invited him to our team meeting on Tuesday with our advisors and sponsors.

Scene 2: First Trip to an Informal Settlement