Thato: A rising Eco-entrepreneur
South Africa’s Thato Kgath Kgatlhanye is part of a new generation of young African entrepreneurs who are making a difference by creating innovative business models. In doing so, they are building solutions to many social and economic problems. Thato is a co-founder of Rethaka, a woman owned business that is behind the Repurpose School Bag Initiative, which she started at age 21. The company recycles plastic bags and make school bags which are integrated with solar lamps. For many children in South Africa’s rural areas this is an ideal solution.
It provides the students will environmentally friendly school bags and solar light that they can use to do their homework before returning to school the next day. The school bags have use reflective light material which comes in useful as students make their way to their homes in the evening after school. Thato go the idea of integrating solar lighting onto the bags after her mother narrated to her how when she was a student, she would use candles to study at night. Thato also noted that that students in South Africa-especially in rural areas and low income neighbourhoods-often used plastic bags to as their school bags. Thato quickly saw an opportunity to create a solution. Thato’s business now employess about 16 people and has plans to expand production of the bags. The company has also secured partnerships with big corporates such as MTN, the South African telecoms giant. He work also been recognised around the world by several organisations and institutions