Real Leaders

Imagine Combining Two Products into One to Create Social Impact

Worldwide, millions of people are forced to sleep outside in the cold. That number is growing by the minute.

Poverty, mental illness, unexpected loss of jobs, natural disasters, and wars are the top causes of homelessness around the world. The Sheltersuit, developed by Bas Timmer (above, right) in the Netherlands, is a wind- and waterproof coat that can be transformed into a sleeping bag.

After losing the father of a friend to hypothermia, who died while living on the streets, Timmer decided that something had to be done. At the time, he had started his own line of clothing after finishing at a fashion academy in the Netherlands. But it didn’t feel right to him to sell fashionable clothing at a high price when so many people couldn’t afford protective clothing to survive.

The Sheltersuit is free to homeless people and refugees, and since starting in 2014, has kept more than 12,500 people warm. Upcycled sleeping bags and tent materials are turned into a Sheltersuit by homeless people in Europe, South Africa and the United States, helping to solve another problem — unemployment.  

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