Country: South Africa
Kgatlhanye is a woman who knows what she wants. She chose schools she wanted to attend from grade four, graduated from the Vega School of Brand Leadership and was offered an internship in New York with marketing guru Seth Godin.
“This changed my life. It gave me a perspective of what was possible. I think being in a city like New York, you start thinking of yourself being capable of doing anything. All you have to do is make a decision on what is it you’d like to do, and kill it,” she says.
At 18, Kgatlhanye founded Rethaka, which produces recycled schoolbags that double up as solar-powered lights that children can use to study at night.
The company employs 20 people, has many volunteers, and supplies its products to the likes of Standard Bank, Red Bull, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Unilever. It also exports to Namibia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Brazil. The aim is to expand to 24 African countries.
“I am an entrepreneur like my father, but I also have a social conscience and that can be attributed to my mother. I’m not just in business for profit; I’m in business to do good,” she says.
Her work has earned her several awards. She received the ELLE International Impact Award, came in third place in the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award and was a finalist of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.
Kgatlhanye may one day make billions out of waste.