When people speak of having something ‘in the bag’ few can match what Reabetswe Ngwane and her company, Rethaka Trading have managed to get in a bag. Rethaka produces what it calls ‘the repurposed schoolbag’, which is aimed at assisting underprivileged children obtain a decent education. Recognising the need for social innovations to help solve societal problems Reabetswe has created a schoolbag made from 100% recycled plastic, and which integrates solar technology, to transforms it into a light source for after-hours study. In addition, this bag has reflective material combined in it to make children using it more visible to traffic. This, she says, tackles both environmental issues and the critical matter of education for the underprivileged. Moreover, it provides these children with a sense of dignity and pride. She is inspired, continues Reabetswe, by continuously seeking to find new and innovative ways to better her company and its product offerings. She dreams of creating and crafting other innovations to help current and future societal problems. Of course, providing such bags to underprivileged communities requires assistance, in the form of sponsorships from corporates and businesses. Developing such relationships with multinationals, she adds, might ease the company’s entry into other markets – which is one of her major goals, as expanding this project into other developing nations can only be of benefit to all, she states. This is her ultimate destination, says Reabetswe: to be operational in other developing countries, have them using her products, and being able to offer her experience to other countries facing similar societal challenges. She believes this can be done by establishing distribution channels in these other countries, which will also assist in job creation and ultimately the upskilling of the community where the business resides.

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