- Year Selected: 2014
- Age at selection: 21
- Venture: Repurpose Schoolbags
- Country: South Africa
- Sector: Education
- Visit website
Thato Kgatlhanye founded Repurpose Schoolbags at 21. Many kids in her community had plastic bags as book bags, so she felt the need to change that. Thato saw an opportunity and decided to repurpose these bags, making them durable and environmentally friendly.
The new school bags were designed using up-cycled plastic bags, integrating solar technology and batteries to provide light for learners to study after dark. Thato presently runs a company with 17 employees and numerous plastic bag collectors. She got the idea about incorporating solar technology into the bags after having a discussion with her mother who told her that she grew up studying with candles; which were unreliable as they burned out by Wednesday.
Thato has been recognised far and wide. She has been featured on CNBC Africa and Forbes, won the ELLE international Impact2 Award, and now partners with corporations like the MTN foundation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Repurpose Schoolbags plans on expanding to enable mass distribution and production, so as to impact more lives.