When South African childhood friends and later entrepreneurs Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane finished high school, they knew they wanted to start something that impacted young people and underprivileged communities. At age 18, they founded Rethaka, a social enterprise they hoped would do just that, although it would be two years before they figured out how.
Repurpose Schoolbags is an environmentally-friendly innovation made from ‘upcycled’ plastic shopping bags with built-in solar technology that charges up during the day and transforms into a light at night. The initiative targets school children in underprivileged communities and looks at addressing a number of problems.
Firstly, the bags allow them to study after dark in homes without electricity. Secondly, the bags are designed with reflective material, so that children are visible to traffic during their walk to and from school.
The production of Repurpose Schoolbags also involves the collection and recycling of plastic bags that typically litter the South African landscape.