Meet Thato Kgatlhanye and Reabetswe Ngwane who gave schoolbags a whole new meaning.

Reabetswe Ngwane and Thato Kgatlhanye

It’s a bag. And a light. And so much more.

Reabetswe Ngwane and business partner Thato Kgatlhanye personify social entrepreneurship. The pair has designed schoolbags, through their company Rethaka, that do more than carry books; they help children read them too.

Rethaka recycles plastic bags, turning them into schoolbags that have built-in solar power packs.

These packs are charged all day in the sunlight while children are at school and are fully charged when the sun goes down, providing light for doing homework or walking home safely.


This clever and simple solution to a persistent problem was born out of a school assignment.

Kgatlhanye came up with the idea and, unsurprisingly, the young woman was named first runner-up at last year’s Anzisha Prize.

The prize, now in its fifth year, awards young entrepreneurs from Africa who develop and implement innovative solutions to social challenges, or start successful businesses in their communities.


As a runner-up, she bagged $15 000 (R150 000 at the time), which became seed capital to convert her idea into a successful business in North West employing eight people.

The ground-breaking duo has now developed a range of luxury clutch bags using the same abundant waste material.

Like any sustainable business, the duo is continuing to innovate.




Have you ever had a dream of a young child torn away from her mother and given away in marriage to a man old enough to be her great grandfather? Yeah, that was the kind of nightmare i woke up to at 2.00 am . Her screams echoes at every corner of my room,keeps me awake until dawn and gave me this burden in my heart to do something about it...I came up with the solution that if we could help this young child's mother to be self-reliant to be able to take care of her...even educate her, she will not end up in child marriage since her family will not need to borrow money from these Shylocks who want a pound of flesh of their offspring.Call me a dreamer...I won't stop until the nightmare is over. Wish me luck !

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