When Thato Kgatlhanye saw schoolkids going off to school with their books in a plastic bag, she was inspired. The young South African, who has a bachelor’s degree in brand management, came up with an idea to re-purpose the bags into proper, solid schoolbags that also serve an extra purpose. Inserted into the bags are small solar panels that charge up while the children walk to school. Then when they get home, they can place these solar panels in a large jar and presto, there is light!
It’s an idea that is also reducing the dangers associated with using candles or kerosene lamps — the other alternative light sources for homes with no electricity. But that’s not all; the sustainable project that Kgatlhanye started with her company Rethaka is also helping to clean up the environment, while providing eight jobs (at the time the video was made).
Kgatlhanye believes repurposing the discarded plastic bag is symbolic of how society can regard itself as it helps to restore some dignity to poor children.
The entrepreneur is still looking to make an impact in the world. Recognized by Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list, the business woman has also set up a personal development agency called Seven Twelve, that asks people to “step into your greatness.” With her firm belief in people’s abilities, Kgatlhanye will no doubt be helping find ingenious solutions to pressing social and environmental issues for years to come.