The SAB Foundation hosted its annual Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards in October. There were 24 deserving winners, and more than R9 million in prize money was awarded.
The Disability Empowerment Awards honoured companies that empower people with disabilities. Smergos, a wheelchair bag and accessories manufacturing company, was awarded joint second place along with Rural Handbikes, a hand-cycle manufacturing company.
ROLLING INSPIRATION caught up with co-owners of Smergos Nick Smit and Nicole Vergos. This is what they had to say about the awards and the R400 000 prize money.
How do you feel about winning the award?
It took a couple of days for it to sink in and for the win to feel real! It’s amazing and such a big leap forward for Smergos. The whole SAB Foundation experience has been rewarding and beneficial to our growth.
What do you plan to do with the prize money?
Until now, we have self-funded Smergos and as a result have often had to stagger projects, marketing campaigns, product development, etc. The prize money will help us to fast-track our plans to reach more people with disabilities.
What new products do you plan to launch?
Some of our new products include a wheelchair cup/bottle holder, a wheelchair raincoat poncho and a weight bag, which fits underneath the seat of a wheelchair and can be used by athletes/sports teams as part of their resistance training. We also plan to release a power pack that clips onto a wheelchair and can charge phones and tablets as well as support lights and speakers. Think “pimp my ride” … wheelchair style!
What are your goals for the next few years?
We are very excited to announce that we’ll soon be launching three new Smergos divisions – Smergos Life, Smergos Sport and Smergos Electric. We also want to develop an app that will give customers the opportunity to personalise their products and provide a social platform for our Smergos community.
For more information about the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, and to find out who won the Disability Empowerment Awards, subscribe to the next issue of ROLLING INSPIRATION. You can also view a video of Smergos’s company video for the awards here: