20 Sep 2023 David Attenborough famously said, “The future of humanity and indeed all life on earth depends on us.” The brands and projects that are part of the V&A’s shared-value ecosystem recognise the urgency with which Attenborough spoke. For them, taking responsibility to build social and environmental resilience within their spheres of influence has become their priority. We take a closer look at four initiatives that proudly echo our ethos of keeping the well-being of our local communities at the heart of everything we do. Mors Design Local slow-fashion brand Mors Design was born from a love for beautiful silhouettes and a passion for sustainable design. Their products are collectable heirloom pieces made to last, with each mohair knit and upcycled bag crafted by artisans who are either refugees or women from local communities. Co-founder Raihana Govender’s business journey started with a drive to contribute to the circular economy. When she recognised the beauty and durability of old tyre tubes, which ended up in landfills, the idea for upcycled, designer bags started forming. From the beginning, she aimed to design elegant products that don’t compromise style, sustainability, or ethics. Raihana and her team, which sell their wares from the Watershed, embrace slow, traditional manufacturing methods. “Our Mors bags are stitched, woven, braided, and patched by hand, and our Molove jerseys and cardigans are hand-knit by women who learned the craft from their mothers and grandmothers. Truly unique, high-quality pieces, characterised by bright, exuberant colours, are created this way.” The team sources their mohair locally and ethically, and each item reflects a little something of the woman who knitted it. Marrying altruism and aesthetics, Mors Design currently employs between 10 and 15 artisans, each of whom comfortably provides for their families while working from home. Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator The country’s youth unemployment crisis is close to our hearts, which is why SOLVE@Waterfront recently partnered with the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator to offer our tenants free access to their innovative employment-focused platform. Working to unlock jobs and break down barriers that keep millions of South Africans unemployed, Harambee offers the country’s largest database of young work-seekers. The not-for-profit social enterprise has been operating for over a decade and has worked with over 1,000 employers to link almost a million young people to opportunities via the SAYouth.mobi platform. Using the Harambee partnership, the V&A Waterfront aims to drive positive action across our neighbourhood, empowering better futures for our youth. The project is already bearing fruit, with several tenants successfully filling entry-level positions over the past year. Almost 40 V&A Waterfront partners have used the platform, placing 548 young job seekers in our neighbourhood. “Ultimately, we hope to create 1,000 jobs and to grow new business models outside the V&A Waterfront, helping to foster and enable opportunity, sustainability, and inclusivity across SA,” says SOLVE coordinator Suveena Maharaj. Little Optimist Sailing Academy Located at the V&A Waterfront’s Battery Park, the Little Optimist Sailing Academy uses exposure to sailing to improve the lives of children who endure physical or mental hardships. “We teach kids the basics of sailing on the canals,” says founder, sailor, and big-wave surfer Greg Bertish. “They get to sail their dinghies on the first day they’ve ever been in the water and learn about ocean health, safety, and sailboats. Hopefully, they find a passion that makes them inquisitive about the world.” Greg is passionate about teaching kids from across the Western Cape that they’re okay – no matter how big, small, sick, poor, or different they may be. Having suffered great physical hardship due to a heart condition diagnosed at 30, Greg knows how important it is to remain optimistic and curious about the world, no matter how tough things are. Through the Academy and the Little Optimist Trust, Greg and his team have helped raise over R4 million for charities such as The Heart and Stroke Foundation, the National Sea Rescue Institute, Friends of the Children, and the Children’s Hospital Trust. In August 2023, the V&A Waterfront donated an optimist dinghy worth R50,000 to the Academy, a sponsorship demonstrating our commitment to supporting SA’s underprivileged communities. Den Anker Belgian restaurant Den Anker, a firm favourite among local and international foodies, is a force for good. The Den Anker team have actively supported the Bumble Bee Fund since its inception in 2011, helping to improve the lives of disabled children. Since 2019, the restaurant has also been a proud partner of the Rhulani Mabasa Children’s Foundation in Soweto, which initiates various education, sports, and poverty alleviation programmes for children from previously disadvantaged communities. As part of the V&A’s “Heart of Filling the Belly” campaign, kickstarted during COVID-19, the restaurant also helped Ladles of Love chop, dice, and cook 1000s of meals daily to fill hungry tummies across the Western Cape. Den Anker operated a soup kitchen from their premises during those first very challenging months of the pandemic, serving hot meals to over 100,000 people. In 2023, they continue to form an integral part of the V&A’s drive to develop a sustainable, authentic, and locally-driven food ecosystem. “As business has returned to a regular tempo, we’ve continued to upskill teams in local community kitchens, helping them to create thriving micro-economies,” says Den Anker General Manager Rejeanne Vlietman. Currently, the restaurant is also an active partner of the GrowSA team, which facilitates economic growth and enterprise development within various industries. “If we all give a small amount of time and join forces to make a meaningful impact for the greater good of the SA population, we’ll head into a direction where there’s fair and equal opportunity for all and a better quality of life for all our citizens,” Rejeanne adds. For more information about the V&A Waterfront’s mission to drive meaningful change – and how we align our actions to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals – click here.