RS Group plc (LSE: RS1), a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions, has entered the second year of its three-year social impact partnership with The Washing Machine Project Foundation, a global charity that combines innovation and sustainable engineering to provide displaced and low-income communities with an accessible, affordable off-grid washing solution.
Over the course of the past twelve months, RS Group has focused the Company’s fundraising activities on the project, rallying staff, customers, and suppliers around the world to pledge their support. Donations in the first year of the partnership have amounted to £218,000 (R4 173 514,08) including a corporate donation of £97,000 (R1 857 022,32) made in April 2022.
RS Group has also provided parts for the construction of the Divya 1.5, the latest version of the manual-crank washing machine. The Divya is easy to maintain, requires no electricity, and uses 50% less water than handwashing, reducing the time spent on this backbreaking task by 75%. This enables women and girls who typically spend upwards of 20 hours per week washing in rivers and lakes to access work and education.
Employees across RS Group have volunteered more than 500 hours of their time to assist with the assembly and deployment of 140 machines to refugee camps in Iraq and Lebanon, helping to improve the lives of an estimated 1350 people. The company will be stepping up its efforts this year by providing space and volunteers for the assembly of another 290 machines for delivery to communities in the Congo, Jordan, and Uganda, as well as further orders to Iraq.
The scale of the support has ranged from fundraising by individual staff members to significant donations from around the business. Staff have also given their time to provide the charity with expertise in areas such as website redesign, legal advice, social media and marketing skills, and data analytics, as well as sourcing manufacturing and logistics solutions for Africa, India, and South America to enable machines to be deployed in these regions.
From a South African perspective, University of Cape Town student Kai Goodall, beat thousands of entries globally to win the People.Planet.Product challenge. Launched early last year in collaboration with The Washing Machine Project, the challenge tasked student members of the DesignSpark engineering community to apply original thinking and practical skills to the ongoing development of The Washing Machine Project’s first water-saving off-grid manual crank-handle washing machine, the Divya.
Goodall’s ‘Pedal n Spin’ design is a foot-cranked washing machine that rotates easily using a combination of the principle of a treadle system and pedal system. It is a pedal-powered connected rod driven rotating drum washing machine system that is purely mechanical in nature. It improves the user’s posture, ease of use, and sustainability of the current Divya washing machine, allowing longer-term adoption, improved hygiene, and increased rotation efficiency with a huge mechanical advantage.
Kai, currently a master’s student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT), mentioned that it has been moving to see that his sustainable and user-friendly washing machine design was selected as one of the winners of the global contest. “My UCT supervisor and chairman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) South Africa Dr David Oyedokun, inspired me to compete in the RS Components Student Design Challenge and I came out tops with my Pedal n Spin foot-cranked washing machine innovation. Being the sole finalist from Africa in the competition and winning first prize was a special recognition of my invention, and motivates me to take my passion to new frontiers, and hopefully inspire more young people to use engineering as a tool for their progression,” he said.
Lindsley Ruth, CEO RS Group, commented: “Our partnership with The Washing Machine Project is very much a key focus when it comes to our commitment to providing sustainable solutions for a better world. We have achieved a lot in our first year, thanks to everyone who has so willingly supported this initiative, and we are continuing to work together to improve the lives of many more people around the world.”
Navjot Sawhney, Founder of The Washing Machine Project, said: “The problem of handwashing clothes is huge, and we can’t combat it alone; we believe in the power of partnerships with a purpose to make our work possible. Our partnership with RS Group is key to accelerating our global impact. In a short space of time, we have come a long way in giving people the dignity of clean clothes. RS Group has been integral in making this possible; thank you to everyone who has worked tirelessly to make it so. We’re looking forward to positively impacting and empowering many more people’s lives.”
The Washing Machine Project is a registered social enterprise dedicated to designing, developing, and distributing low-cost, water-saving, manual washing machines to provide displaced and low-income people with an alternative to handwashing clothes. The Washing Machine Project is supported by The Washing Machine Project Foundation, which is a registered charity in England & Wales (No.1193480)