LoA had the pleasure of meeting with Thato Kgatlhanye at the Cartier Womens Initiative Awards finalists press conference recently in South Africa and spoke to her about the challenges for women entrepreneurs on the continent. Listen to our interview.
Thato Kgatlhanye and her company, Rethaka Trading, are the inspiration behind Repurpose School Bags, a for profit social enterprise that specialises in green innovative solutions for social development. The Repurpose Schoolbag is a practical and sustainable solution to a major problem for many kids living in rural and non-electrified parts of South Africa. When the final school bell rings each afternoon, it doesn't just signal the end of another day of learning. Instead, it also means the beginning of an arduous trek along busy and dangerous roads to get back home in time to complete their homework before sunset. Thato and her team at Rethaka design school bags from up-cyled plastic bags, integrating solar technology that charges during the day and transforms into light for school kids to study after dark. These 100% recycled plastic schoolbags are changing the lives of young learners - they are not only environmentally friendly, but they provide much needed renewable energy light sources for these young students who need to study after dark at home where electric light simply doesn’t exist. The integration of reflective light material in the bags also provides much needed visibility for these young students on the often dangerous roads as they walk many kilometers each day just to attend school. This young eco-preneur is a real game changer and is destined for great things.