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

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.


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