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Women’s Empowerment Through Localised Procurement

Big Five Duty Free is commonly known to the public for their exclusive and illustrious stores in South Africa’s major airport terminals. Big Five Duty Free’s operations however extend beyond gloss and glamour with their various CSI initiatives, including a campaign every year to distribute Teddy Bears (part of a Christmas Shopping incentive) to underprivileged children.

Big Five Duty Free Christmas Campaign

Since 2013, Big Five Duty Free have partnered with The Wot-If? Trust to distribute the Christmas Teddy Bears to crèche’s, churches, community groups, shelters and hospitals. Although The Wot-If? Trust predominantly works in Diepsloot, over the course of the next few years, these distributions took place in Limpopo, Kwa Zulu Natal, Alexandra, Boksburg, Benoni and Joburg inner City.

In 2016 the game changed as Big Five decided to create a bear that was locally made and source local manufacturers who could produce their 12 000-unit order. Introducing “Biggie – The Bear”, a custom designed cushion that was manufactured by a group of women in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.

Big Five Duty Free Teddy Cushion OrderThis 12,000-unit order for Big Five Duty Free directly aligned itself with The Wot-If? Trusts’ Women’s Empowerment Programme. The programme has continually supported a number of Women by giving them access to different markets for hand-made products, since 2014.

Competent as they are, The Wot-If? Trust’s Women Empowerment participants were not a big enough group to sew 12 000 Teddy Bear cushions for this Christmas campaign and they lacked the necessary machines and equipment. So, as collaboration has its way, The Wot-If? Trust contacted The Diepsloot Foundation which operates from St. Mungo’s Church in Ext 7 of Diepsloot. The Diepsloot Foundation offers skill developments to the Diepsloot community, including sewing, carpentry and ABET bridging courses. Their Women’s Empowerment sewing database is much larger than The Wot-If? Trusts’ and their venue was also able to accommodate the massive production.

Six weeks later, with thirty-five women more experienced and financially empowered, the Diepsloot Foundation was able to deliver 12 000 units to all three Big Five Duty Free stores. The Christmas campaign was structured in such a way that travelling customers were offered the Teddy Bear cushion if they spent more than R2000 in the duty free stores. The customer was then given the choice to keep the Teddy Bear cushion or donate it to an underprivileged child in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban.Big Five Duty Free Teddy Cushions from Diepsloot

In celebration of this amazing achievement, the women came together and were joined by the women from The Wot-if? Trust’s programme, who had also produced a corporate gift order for Big Five Duty Free. All their hard work and dedication to attention to detail culminated in a small event which gifted them with goodie bags and the very same cushions many of them had spent six weeks creating.

This concept of localisation is transformative and forward thinking. Not only is this an economic advancement for the Diepsloot community since most of these women are care givers, but it has also ignited their hope for success and dreams of a brighter future.

The Wot-If? Trust acknowledges that, “The community of Diepsloot, with all the challenges it faces, has a vibrant, passionate and energetic population, which thrives on challenges and defies the odds.” This is the reason they constantly drive and facilitate towards a #Diepsloot2030 vision. An idea to “build a brighter future” for Diepsloot by the year 2030 through programmes such as these.

Interested in placing an order with either of the organisations mentioned above? Feel free to click through to the relevant hyperlink for more information.

Wot-If Trust Christmas Party for Handmade Products