What’s the solution to hunger and unemployment, and all of the other issues faced by South Africa’s poorest communities? While big business may have an effect on the broader economy, it’s South Africa’s eco entrepreneurs that are having the most impact where it counts the most.

When community members take the initiative and start businesses that offer real solutions to pressing problems, while also generating income that brings money into the community, slowly but surely things begin to change. And perhaps we’re now realising that sustainable social entrepreneurship is what will lead South Africa’s youth into a brighter future.

Here are just a few of South Africa’s eco-entrepreneurs whose innovative green business ideas are making a difference.

Solar-powered recycled schoolbags

It sounds super high tech, but actually, it’s a simple solution that solves 2 problems. At 21, Thato Kgatlhanye saw an opportunity to turn waste into a useful product that also provided light for students studying at home with no electricity. Her revolutionary idea earned her 2nd place in the Anzisha prize for young SA entrepreneurs. Her now thriving business employs many community members and has recycled thousands of single-use plastic bags.

Stylish gift boxes from old plastic bottles

All Women Recycling has a unique use for plastic cool drink bottles that litter the streets and are a continuing environmental concern – beautiful, handmade gifts and keepsake boxes. The ‘kliketyklikboxes’ are sold internationally, and empower South African women through employment and skills development, while also making a difference to the environment.

From food waste to organic compost

Organic waste is so often discarded to simply rot away in a landfill but it’s actually a valuable commodity. Waste to Food is a socially conscious business that transforms organic waste into profit by processing it and turning it into high-quality earthworm compost. This alternative to landfill disposal helps to lower carbon emissions, while also providing a sustainable agricultural solution for large and small farms that want to stop (or at least limit) the amount of chemical fertilisers used. Best of all? Job creation for local communities who can earn money through their involvement in the project.

Your sustainable business idea could win a share of $600 000!

This year, we have partnered with The Zayed Sustainability Prize. It’s a fantastic initiative that rewards big thinkers and young entrepreneurs who want to start environmentally and socially conscious businesses to address problems in their communities, while also making a profit.

To find out more about the competition and enter before 6 May 2021, visit www.zayedsustainabilityprize.com or visit the social channels:

Twitter: @ZSP_ORG
Instagram: @zayedsustainabilityprize
Facebook: @zayedsustainabilityprize
YouTube: @zayedsustainabilityprize

If you need to learn the basics of entrepreneurship to help you make the most of your brilliant business idea, take a look at our free online academy – where you earn rewards as you learn how to be an entrepreneur!