Scene 6: Just Do It: Three Crèche Visits

Monday, November 17th
The planning for this eventful day began last week. Max had invited us to visit Gege’s Crèche, located in his neighborhood, to meet with the crèche leader. In order to prepare for this we planned out what to present to the teachers and crèche owners. We decided that we would first explain the Wonderbag and see what they thought of it. If this went well we would explain that we wanted to use a crèche as a distribution point and begin the Pilot Program.
Cast of Characters
Max works for the Office of Sustainable Livelihoods. He lives in Langa and knows many local crèches. This local knowledge allowed him to show us into the various crèches and to connect with the crèche leaders.


Max with The Energy Team at the Lanaga Community Center

The day took place in Langa, a township located just outside the city of Cape Town. It is one of the oldest settlements, as it was founded in the 1920s. Gege’s crèche is close to the main road that runs through Langa. It is comprised of two small buildings. The first contained roughly 30 sleeping children in one room. The other had a collection of small rooms including a kitchen, a meeting room, and a classroom. Outside there was a metal play structure for the kids. Also, there was a small greenhouse attached to the side of one of the buildings.

Outside Gege creche

Outside of Gege Crèche

The second crèche we visited was the Silvertree Crèche. It is a much larger building, with over 120 children. It is located in one large building with four main classrooms. Outside is a large playground surrounded by a large fence.

Silvertree playground

One of two playgrounds at Silvertree

Silvertree creche

The Energy Team with the Silvertree crèche leader

The third and final crèche we visited was Tafelberg crèche. It was a much smaller building with only 40 students, including Max’s grandchild. There was another metal play structure outside, also utilizing tires. We were only able to see a large, open classroom and an office.
Although Gege’s Crèche did not contact us prior to set up a meeting, we still wanted to visit. With Max’s advice of “Just do it,” we decided to take a chance and went to Langa. The first crèche we visited was Gege’s crèche. A woman came out to meet us and then invited the five of us inside to sit down and talk about the Wonderbags. After introducing ourselves, Tati asked the woman about the Wonderbag. She had used one before and said it was a very useful product. She seemed receptive to the idea of selling Wonderbags and mentioned that several women had shown interest in purchasing them. Although the price of R210 initially seemed too high, she seemed supportive of the payment plans. We agreed that stretching the cost out would allow for more people to afford it, and thus sell more Wonderbags. The discussion was concluded by asking her to contact us about a second meeting to go in depth about selling the Wonderbags. She said she would reach out to Max as a contact when she was next available.

The next location we visited was the Silvertree Crèche. Max went in first to see if they were be able to speak with us, as we did not schedule a meeting ahead of time. After a few minutes, he came back to tell us to come inside as we were invited in to speak with the principal. After introducing ourselves, Tati brought up the Wonderbag. The crèche uses two to cook. This was very encouraging; however, when we brought up the idea of selling the Wonderbags, the principal informed us that now was not a good time to sell them. This was because the school year was ending and parents had to pay R500 for registration for next year in addition to any outstanding fees from this year. This combined with the R210 would have been financially straining on the parents. However, she recommended that we try to sell the Wonderbags in January when the new class starts. We were invited to the parent teacher assembly that would take place in early January to pitch the Wonderbags. Since we would not be able to make it, Max offered to come and explain that Wonderbags to the parents

The last crèche we stopped at was the Tafelberg crèche. Again, Max went in first to see if anyone was available to speak with us, as we did not have a planned meeting. One of the teachers was able to talk with us, and we crowded into her office. Tati introduced us and our project again, however this time the teacher had not heard of a Wonderbag. We explained how it was used and the benefits it could provide. She did not seem to want the product from her expressions so we decided not to offer the opportunity of having them be sold at the crèche. However, we did ask if she was interested in purchasing one to use at the crèche. As she did not have the final say on whether or not the Wonderbag could be purchased to used in the kitchen, she said she would talk to her boss about the product. This limitation cut our meeting short, and we were quickly on the way back to the Office of Sustainable Livelihoods and then the lodge.
Reflection and Learning
Visiting three crèches was highly educational and provided us with great momentum as we begin focusing on implementing the Pilot Program. Gege’s Crèche expressed a large amount of interest in selling the Wonderbags, and will hopefully contact us about beginning the Pilot Program. The meeting with Gege’s Crèche confirmed that the idea of selling them at a crèche is appealing to the owners and can have a lot of potential. Not only that, but it gave us hope that a Pilot Program will be implemented despite having the school year come to an end. The other two taught us about how a crèche is run and provided us data on why a crèche would decline selling the Wonderbags. These are important to understand as we move forward so we can tailor the opportunity of being a distribution point to fit the limited time frame we have.

Our visits provided us with a lot of suggestions to the entrepreneurial packet; one of which was advertisements for the crèche saying they sell Wonderbags. The team thought this was a great way to promote the business and will be adding the idea to packet. Another important finding that additionally support using crèches as distribution point is that they do fundraisers which can also be a good event to promote Wonderbags.  Overall the day was very successful; we were able to add a large amount of information to our findings, and hopefully we will be able to begin selling Wonderbags at a Gege’s Crèche soon.

Scene 7: The Reality of Low Income Areas