During the South African Innovation Summit in Cape Town I had the pleasure of meeting two young girls who have found a simple mutlipurpose solution to most of our social problems, this innovation has a tri-factor in it because it addresses the Poverty, Energy and Job creation issues in South Africa.
Thato and Tsatsi founded Repurpose School Bags for a number of reasons, so let me get right into what this school bag does and you will see how many problems one simple school bag solves.
A Repurpose schoolbag is a plastic recycled, hand made schoolbag that charges up during the day and transforms into a light so that children can study when they get home. Here is a list of solutions this school bag offers.
1. Economic Impact: Plastic pollution is estimated to be costing developing and industrialized nations up to $1.27 Billion annually as it threatens fishing, shipping and tourism
2. Safety: Kerosene lanterns & alternative means of lighting kill at least 3 million people each year– mostly children & women.
3. Road Safety: 3 children die daily on South African roads – SANRAL*
11,4million South African learners walk to school daily -Parliament of South Africa*
4. Education: Increased working hours after dark with a safe renewable energy light source. With completed homework, educators can monitor the progress of their teaching.
5. Carbon footprint: Made from 100% plastic shopping bags, a child can carry their books in an eco-friendly manner.
6. Dignity: many children especially from rural areas do not have school shoes, let alone afford schoolbags, so these free, trendy and durable bags restore the confidence of the learners.
7. Job Creation: Repurpose School Bags create more than 10 jobs as each school bag is hand made from start to finish.
8. Inspiration: these girls are encouraging every young innovators out there that your innovation need not be complicated nor technologically advanced.
This is why they started this business in their own words:
“It starts with people who lead purpose driven lives. Those who instead of looking at exhausted possibilities, look at the impossibilities. It’s having the courage to imagine a way out of despair.
It thrives on thinking differently about inherited struggles and daring to realise we already have in these, the solutions we seek.
It makes problems work for us, not control us. It demands an ethical imagination: having the arrogance to see the world the way you want it and having the humility to see it through.
It’s feeding a revolution of people who build their own doors instead of knocking on other people’s doors.
It inspires a compassionate, bold and tenacious kind of creativity.
It’s having the audacity to uplift communities with uplifting ideas. We use innovation as a means to social change and choose to zig while others zag.”
How two young individuals can take a plastic bag and make it a life changing innovation is just truly inspiring. Rethaka (Pty) Ltd is a for-profit, woman-owned business, based in Rustenburg, South Africa. It has collected a number of accolades along the way. If you want to be part of their movement and donate some of the school bags please get in touch with them. www.repurposeschoolbags.com
They have true social innovators and we commend them on the great work.