Our Story

2012Organizationis founded201320162017201820202014The first volunteers join usWith a mission to create less waste within the Fashion industry and raise funds for projects that empowers youth and women in South Africa.Danish designers back up the projectOur first Danish designers back up the idea to turn fashion waste into funds for pro-jects that empower youth and women in South Africa.Our first project that empowers girls in South Africa!This is the year where our South African partner “Designers without Borders SA” is founded. Funded by the Fashion Fundraiser we collaborate with them to start the first project that empowers girls in South Africa!Name changeWe changed our name! Our name change to Designers without Borders Dk symbolises our use of design thinking as a method to develop the mental tools needed to activate positive change, as well as our focus on sustaina-ble design- and craft practices and our collaboration with the creative industry.Almost since the very start we have been an organization based on volunteers and contributors.Our first fashionfundraiserOur first Fashion Fundraiser takes place in South Africa where donated clothes from Danish designers is sold to raise funds for youth and women in South Africa.For a small but ambitious organisation like ours this is BIG – and our organization and projects grow.2020Today – and foreverWe are an ever growing, dedicated and strong-willed group working hard to set focus on fashion waste and to make a positive dif-ference for youth and women needing it the most.

Background

Designers without Borders Dk was founded by Danish anthropologist Maria Liv Claudi and in collaboration with Danish designer Pia Claudi in 2012.
The two combined the mission to find better and more sustainable solutions to the overproduction of garments with the mission to help create better opportunities for youth and women living in poor, rural communities in South Africa.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and waste within the value chain is a massive problem. This relates both to the manufacturing process, overproduction and consumer behaviour.

DWB Dk and the participating designers are trying to move the industry in a more sustainable direction. While not pretending to come up with solutions to the massive problems of overproduction, consumerism and the industry itself, the hope is to make a small, but positive change by turning fashion waste into projects that empower youth and women.

Designers without Borders Dk was originally called Nordic Designers Aid but we changed our name in 2020.

The name change symbolises our use of design thinking as a method to develop the mental tools needed to activate positive change, as well as our focus on sustainable design- and craft practices and our collaboration with the creative industry.

 

It began in South Africa

The inspiration to start an organisation working to empower and create better opportunities for youth and women started during Maria Liv’s studies and work in South Africa from  2008-2012.

During her years in South Africa, she experienced first-hand the poverty and massive need for better opportunities and development in the country. At the same time, she became inspired by the strong spirit and resilience of the young women that she worked with in a poor slum area, Khayelitsha, just outside of Cape Town.

She met several determined young women there. One of them, Babalwa, took her under her wings and introduced her to her community in Khayelitsha.
Babalwa counselled young women living with HIV & AIDS and also took in a young boy, Uuka, who had run away from home, even though she herself lived in a small shack made of tin and wood.
Before she could legally adopt Uuka, Babalwa got seriously ill. She died of meningitis in the brain in 2010, most likely caused by her HIV diagnosis. Uuka was placed back with his parents, where he would once again be exposed to the sexual and physical abuse he ran away from. As a foreigner Maria Liv felt powerless and in a short time she lost all track of him and his family.

Maria Liv returned to Denmark knowing she needed to do more than be a powerless bystander. Babalwa’s dream of helping the people in her community and the difference she made for them has therefore been passed on to her in the formation of DUG.
The mission of DUG is to collaborate with partners in local communities to help create better opportunities for marginalised youth and women. But, just as important, to give them a voice and to empower them take an active part in designing a better future for themselves.
The collaboration with the fashion industry made this dream possible.

In 2015 Maria Liv met South African Alfra Roos, who has worked the most of her life to help youth and women in her community in Grabouw, South Africa. In 2017 the two founded the South African NGO “Designers without Borders SA”, which is today led by Alfra Roos.
DWB SA is DUG’s main local partner, sharing their vision to make a positive change for youth and women in South Africa through design thinking, empowerment and creative projects.

Interested in empowering female and youth?

About us

Meet our board