Women Empowerment, Housing & Living Conditions, Aug. 19, 2020, 6:22 p.m.

To provide warmth to the most vulnerable populations in our communities

Author: riaan@wecanchange.co.za

Sheltersuit Foundation believes that everyone deserves warmth and dignity. Human warmth Is a human right.

Sheltersuit Foundation established in 2015 as a Public Benefit Organization in the Netherlands. 6000 Sheltersuits produced/distributed to the homeless and refugees in Europe. Sheltersuit Foundation factory opened in 2018: 15 employees (former homeless and refugees). 


The Founder of Sheltersuit Foundation
Bas Timmer is a fashion designer from Enschede, Netherlands. He is widely recognized for his sustainable and innovative design, receiving the 2017 Dutch Design Award and the 2018 German Design Award for sustainable design. In 2019, he was received funding to participate in the Smart Cities New York 2019. Bas participated at SXSW and set up a production of 100 Sheltersuits, made and sourced locally. He received his degree in Fashion Design from the ROC and studied one year at ArtEZ Art Institute (Netherlands). 


The Sheltersuit concept was introduced to SA in August 2019.

A specific product, the Shelterbag was identified as the best product for countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Funding of the project, after concluding from research, would primarily be through private donors, corporate social responsibility and Non-Profit organisations (both government linked as well as private).

The project was initiated following an order in December 2019, of 250 Shelterbags for the Design Indaba annual conference in Cape Town in February 2020 (the first funding received to proceed with the project).

Training commenced in January after successful negotiation with The Ark, Centre of refuge for 1000 persons, to utilize their sewing room, equipped with the appropriate industrial sewing machines, cutting and preparation tables and storage space for raw materials and finished product. 250 Shelterbags were successfully produced in a period of 7 weeks, by a team of 7 seamstresses, of which 5 were sourced from The Ark and 2 from the neighboring suburb, Macassar. In the current scenario we have 3 fully skilled seamstresses
The team of 7 skilled and semi-skilled workers, all machinists have been trained to work in a production line – each person depends on the productivity of the next.

There is an increase from 1 fully skilled seamstress to 3 fully skilled seamstresses, in the last month, able to manufacture an entire Shelterbag individually. Our training and development plans are designed to upskill previously unemployed women and provide specialist skills for sustainable employment. In the last 2 weeks, the capacity has been increased to an average of 540 bags a month (representing 4 weeks at 125 bags per week, plus the latest efficiencies)

A marked increase in production capacity has occurred since the initial phase of the project where 250 bags were produced in a period of 7 weeks. At the current efficiency, it is possible to add another team of 7 seamstresses to the team, at another location, with the availability of one full-time training supervisor, our fully skilled and senior seamstress.

We are keen to collaborate with organisations and corporate companies that align with our philosophy of creating dignity through employment and producing local products by training and developing women through our empowerment project. Ultimately, we want to keep every homeless person warm and we believe that we can change the world.