Earlier this week, I received a media drop that blew me away, left me utterly inspired and humbled by the brilliance of some of our young South Africans!


Meet Thato Kgathlhanye, who founded the company Rethaka at the tender age of 18!


This brilliant young lady, now only 22, was concerned about the societal problems facing learners, a lack of dignity, basic school materials and no source of light to study at night. In addition, she was also concerned about the plastic pollution she noticed growing up in Mogwase, a small township just outside Rustenburg. And that’s how the idea for the repurpose school bag was born.


The school bags, which are made from recycled shopping bags turned into a textile and Β also double up as a source of light to aid learners to study at night because they have a solar panel in the front pouch which charges as the children walk to and from school and double up as a solar lantern at night.


Rethaka’s factory, in Rustenburg currently employs 17 full time staff members, so there’s also that. In addition, in order to achieve their goal of creating 10 000 repurposed school bags by the end of 2015, Rethaka are hoping to increase their staff compliment to 20 by the end of the year.

I was so touched, inspired and humbled by this brightFuture story and it seems I’m not the only one, Rethaka and Thato have been nationally and internationally recognized – ThatoΒ was also picked as one of 18 South African social entrepreneurs to attend the 10 day RedBull Amaphiko Academy this year.Β Although her business enterprise has garnered international attention and awards, (In November 2013, Repurpose Schoolbags came third at the SAB Foundation Innovation Awards and in September 2014, it won the R15 000 prize for the SA Innovation Summit Inventors’ Garage competition and was the runner-up for the Anzisha Prize 2014), Thato genuinely wants to make a difference and contribute to the development of her community.

Her initiative has also got people like Bill Gates talking!


Go Thato! It’s young South African’s like you that are making a difference in our communities and giving hope to many!

Check out the video, Thato takes us through the manufacture process of these repurposed bags.

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