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This Backpack Designed for Poor Kids Does So Much More Than Carry Books

(Courtesy of Rosy Klein/Quartz)
(Courtesy of Rosy Klein/Quartz)

(Quartz) – Sometimes, the best innovation isn’t an app.

South Africans Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane are co-founders of the business Rethaka. Their brand of Repurposed Schoolbags are made from recycled and reinforced plastic shopping bags. Many of the recipients come from poor families.

But it’s so much more than a bag. Because the kids often live in shacks and remote areas with no electricity, Repurposed Schoolbags are built with some other smart features. On the outside of the flap is a pocket for a solar panel, which charges on the long walk to and from school. That screws onto a Consol glass jar that the kids use as a lamp at home when doing homework in the evenings.  The bag is also reflective because many of these kids wake up at the crack of dawn and walk in the dark to get to school on time.

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