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Agile manufacturing: Small tailorshops cluster in Bucharest produce medical equipment

Atelier Merci tailorshop and partner adapted clothing manufacturing to protective suits manufacturing to help hospitals supply shortage.

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A local short and long term solution to the shortage of medical protective gear  in Romanian hospitals is local manufacturing, with proper fabric and respecting the standards. Among the medical protective gear needed, the medical staff are often mentioning the shortage of medical protective suits.

Our association has opened in 2016 in Bucharest a social tailor shop, a small social enterprise to generate profit which is invested into the healthcare projects developed by the association. During these 4 years of clothing production, our tailor shop staff has gained significant experience in clothing production, has 2 tailors employed, 2 sewing machines and other equipment for clothing production.

Target group: medical staff working in the 55 hospitals listed as primary care hospitals for COVID-19. A selection will be made by our team once the first shipment is ready to be delivered.

Our NGO identified suppliers for the fabric necessary for local manufacturing of medical protective suits and produced a prototype for a medical protective suit (fabric: 100% polypropylene).  The prototype was designed by our team in accordance to the World Health Organization “Personal protective equipment for use in a filovirus disease outbreak - Rapid advice guideline” 2019 and local norms.

What is the need are you focusing on?

In the current COVID-19 crisis, Romanian hospitals are deeply affected by the shortage of medical protective equipment. Even though the Government has placed orders for medical equipment, contracts around the world are not being honored anymore. Currently, 19% of the COVID-19 infected people in Romania are medical staff. There are constant alarm signals drawn by the medical staff that the protective equipment is not sufficient and without it, sooner or later they will get infected and become unable to treat patients. The staff supply is limited. Therefore, we had to build a local capacity for producing medical equipment, for short and also long term medical protective equipment manufacturing. We are applying for this grant to support the medical sector in Romania by offering to the hospitals 600 medical protective suits and to contribute to job creation: we want to keep our two tailors and offer work and collaborate with one more small tailorshop based also in Bucharest.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing a pivot idea your organization is considering or could consider

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

Our association has opened in 2016 in Bucharest a social tailor shop, a small social enterprise to generate profit which is invested into the healthcare projects developed by the association. During these 4 years of clothing production, our tailor shop staff has gained significant experience in clothing production, has 2 tailors employed, 2 sewing machines and other equipment for clothing production. Target group: medical staff working in the 55 hospitals listed as primary care hospitals for COVID-19. A selection will be made by our team once the first shipment is ready to be delivered. Our NGO identified suppliers for the fabric necessary for local manufacturing of medical protective suits and produced a prototype for a medical protective suit (fabric: 100% polypropylene). The prototype was designed by our team and is now produced in our tailorshop and in a tailorshop partner. We are in the search of funds to be able to produce more pieces and offer them to the hospital staff.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Maybe-with additional support

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

Our social tailorshop is capable of agile manufacturing and rapidly adapted production to protective suits, continuing to fulfill a social mission, that of serving the medical staff in the shortage of protective suits. We plan to produce in 3 months 600 protective suits to offer to Romanian hospitals hosting COVID 19 patients and to help diminishing the rate of infection and cotagion of the medical staff in Romania which is now 19% of the total of infected people (1 in 5 people infected is a nurse or doctor and among the factors is the lack or shortage of protective suits). We are seeking for funds so we can manufacture the suits, but not charge the hospitals. The cost for one suit is 16 Usd and we can produce 600 suits in 1.5 - 2 months. So far we have shipped 40 suits to 3 hospitals in Romania.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Merci Charity Boutique Association

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

Before COVID 19 pandemia we used to manufacture women and kids' clothing from cotton and natural fibres and recycle men shirts and t-shirts into purses for women. www.ateliermerci.ro All our products bear the tag "I wear a good deed" and we donate our profit to a health project for kids: a mobile dental van for children in rural areas (www.zanamerciluta.ro). Out tailorshop functions under the umbrella of the association "Merci Charity Boutique" because in Romania there is no legal form "social enterprise" but we identify as "social enterprise" by mission and activities.

What is your profession?

I am an economist, associate professor and social entrepreneur.

Where are you located (country)?

Romania

Where are you located (region)?

  • Europe

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • 5-10 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Nonprofit/NGO

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

We believe funding might be an obstacle, but in the case where we do not obtain support from this proposal, we will run a campaign of fundraising from individuals but will require more time and now time is vital in manufacturing these protective suits for the hospital staff.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

We learned about optimizing pattern cutting and the manufacturing process itself in producing the protective suits. Moreover, we learned about teamwork and partnerships with our tailorshops in reaching our goals of manufacturing protective suits in time of crisis.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

We are aware of two grant opportunities: CEI Extraordinary Call for Proposals 2020 and Antler GLOBAL Covid-19 Call. However we are seeking for sponsorships/funds so we can manufacture the suits, but not charge the hospitals. The cost for one suit is 16 Usd and we can produce 600 suits in 1.5 - 2 months. So far we have shipped 40 suits to 3 hospitals in Romania.

Website URL

www.mercicharity.ro www.ateliermerci.ro

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