When Nicholas Smit was out looking for a birthday gift for his wheelchair bound friend, Nicole Vergos in 2012, he struck on the idea of a wheelchair bag, as he saw that she often struggled to keep her belongings on her lap when propelling herself in her chair. But Nicholas struggled to find what he was looking for locally and imported products were exorbitantly priced. And so Smergos was co-founded by both, born out of Nicholas’ idea and Nicole’s need.
The company launched publicly at the end of 2015 with a range of specially designed bags that fit neatly on any wheelchair, giving the user a safe and accessible way to carry their belongings. In 2017 Smergos was accepted into the YGap International incubator programme, taking joint second place at the SAB Foundation Disability Empowerment Awards in October of the same year. In 2018, Smergos joined the buy local movement and became a member of Proudly South African.
Both Nick and Nicole have dealt with their own disabilities and challenges, yet they are both driven and determined each with a positive mind-set that has never allowed their disabilities to define them or prevent them from fulfilling their life goals. Their personal experiences have given them an acute awareness and understanding of what disabled people need and how the current marketplace is failing to meet many of those needs.
Most recently they have been working on an able-bodied range of locally manufactured clothing and bags which they will market under the Smergos Life brand. They are also working closely with wheelchair basketball structures to provide accessories for players.
Nick and Nicole continue in their day jobs as they work on growing Smergos. They are always looking for project partners and assistance in making a difference in more lives to those with disabilities. Co-branding opportunities are available, see below.
Smergos is the first Proudly South African company to design, manufacture and sell accessories for people who use wheelchairs. Everyone has the right to move around with ease and Smergos improves people with disabilities’ quality of life by providing products that give them greater mobility and independence. Recognising that people with disabilities have been historically marginalised, resulting in lower levels of education and fewer employment opportunities for many, this means that those affected cannot afford these products. Smergos is looking to team up with corporate companies to provide much-needed products to people with disabilities in need. If you are interested in helping please contact Smergos.
In 2016 Smergos teamed up with Transcend Capital, a finance advisory firm that focuses on the structuring and implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) transactions. The partnership donated 63 school bags (otherwise known as S’Cool bags) to Hope School’s wheelchair-bound learners. S’Cool bags are specifically designed to fit on wheelchairs, holding books, files and stationery.
Alma School, a registered non-profit organisation (001-427 NPO) that provides specialised education, occupational therapy and physiotherapy to learners with various intellectual and physical disabilities requires 50 S’Cool bags for their wheelchair bound leaners, at a cost of R24 000.
We are looking for a company that is willing to sponsor these bags.