In this workshop in Cairo, the craft women are busy sewing, stuffing and designing.
They are using their skills to create comfortable cushions and beds.
But the products are not for humans – they are for dogs.
“We like the idea of making things for animals. It’s nice to think of the animals sitting and playing on the beds and keeping warm,” says Nahed Zareef Shehata, an employee at the workshop.
The material used is cotton duck, a heavy fabric often used for tents and sand bags.
The beds are colourful and comfortable with various different patterns and shapes.
The beds are destined for sale online thanks to a start-up, Furbaby, founded by Perry Remon.
Remon works in marketing and advertising.
Being an animal lover, she was involved in rescuing street dogs and sponsoring them in shelters.
At the same time she was looking to buy some dog beds for her own dogs and could not find anything made locally.
This inspired her to start Furbaby.
She began it as small side project with little expectations.
But in the last five to six years the beds have turned out to be successful in Egypt among pet owners.
And the business supports women from lower income areas working in workshops.
“When we started with Furbaby the idea was that the products would be handmade by women and at the same time from the income they get from their products they can help their families,” says Remon.
In her home in Cairo, an array of Furbaby products await the cosy company of furry friends.
“Furbaby started to grow little by little thanks to a network of people I know that are helping dogs in shelters,” she says.
“With the revenue generated from selling the products I started to fund injured dogs from the streets and heal them in clinics or sponsor them in shelters.”
The beds range from 375 Egyptian pounds to 760 Egyptian pounds ($24 to $48.50). Currently Furbaby has a network of buyers in Egypt and in Canada.
Furbaby also donates beds to animal shelters in Cairo.
The APF (Animal Protection Foundation) is a charity shelter located in Saquarra in Giza.
Hanan Debees homes 1,500 dogs here.
All of them were once injured or sick dogs found on the streets.
At this shelter, the sick or injured dogs are taken care of separately until they recover and join other dogs in the playgrounds.
The shelter tries to find homes for orphan puppies also found on the streets.
“With the donations we receive we are not able to get everything we need. Our priorities are food and healthcare. Something comfortable and dry for the dogs to sit on is not affordable for us. So when Furbaby donate beds to us we give them especially to the sick dogs or the ones that have recently been operated on. They are ones that need a comfortable bed to sleep on in order to recover well,” says Debees.
Debees brings a new Furbaby cushion to a sick dog and her puppies.
The dog is suffering from mange, a skin disease.
In another room, where dogs are recovering from injuries, some are already sleeping on previously donated Furbaby beds. Three new cushions have been provided today.
Debees has a staff of thirty people. The APF shelter relies heavily on donations.