Young South African Entrepreneur Designs Innovative Eco-Friendly Schoolbags.
21-year-old South African innovator and entrepreneur Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder of Repurpose Schoolbags, an incredible initiative and business venture that combines community awareness, environmentalism and women’s empowerment.
Encouraged my a university assignment, Kgatlhanye first set up a company called Rethaka with two friends, at the age of 18. Rethaka was aimed at exploring societal problems, uncovering opportunities and seeking sustainable solutions for them.
Focusing primarily on low-income communities, and in particular women and children, Rethaka’s first project is the highly creative and ingeniously designed Repurpose Schoolbags operation. Made from 100% recycled plastic bags, each schoolbag is equipped with a mini solar panel that charges when exposed to sunlight (during school walks, etc) allowing students to study without electricity for up to 12 hours. Not only does this lift a significant burden and strain off the children who use these bags and their families, the bags are enveloped with retro-reflective material that makes children more visible when walking - be it early in the morning or during the darker hours of the evening, making them much safer as they travel.
Kgatlhanye’s commitment to community development is echoed throughout her business which employs seven full-time staff and has a management team of three - all women, with the exception of one.
Repurpose aims to continue to grow through the help of giving partnerships and future expansions. It’ll be incredible to see what more comes from Kgatlhanye and her team.
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