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WINGS OF CHANGE

07.12.2015

Red Bull Amaphiko is a collaborative platform for young entrepreneurs who are using their brains, creativity and energy to solve social problems and make a positive change in the world. From gangster museums in Khayelitsha to building schools out of plastic bricks across the country – here are 16 young South African innovators to watch for 2016. Check out these socially-minded creatives who are seeking alternatives in the midst of global chaos and rising up like flowers through the cracks in Mzansi’s concrete…

Brian Mokachane – Soulart Foundation

“I am artist – my left is my right and my right is my wrong…”

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Brian sees art as a medium for tackling society’s biggest issues and is teaching kids in his gully how to create art from waste materials in an attempt to steer them away from the wicked. The work produced at Soulart is being sold in exclusive stores in Jozi and featured on the runway at Cape Town Fashion Week earlier this year. Brian is currently working toward transforming dumpsites into official spaces for recyclable art academies. Even if he can’t tell his left from his right, this brother sure is movin’ on up. More on Soulart and how you can contribute to Brian’s vision here (we know they’re looking for more sewing machines!)

Ruramai Musekiwa – Sibahle

“There is so much we can address on an external level. We can feed people, we can provide healthcare but I think what needs to be addressed so importantly in the African context is mindset…”

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“We are beautiful,” reads a line on Ruramai Musekiwa’s website, Sibahle. A simple and conclusive statement for an inspiring art project. Sibahle uses different artistic mediums to celebrate Africanism and African women. Ruramai is a boss illustrator and some of her work includes an illustrated poster series that profiles inspirational black women; as well as Sibahle magazine, which uncovers some of the continent’s best creative talent. (Aside from Ruramai herself) there are four pillars of Sibahle: 1. Literature 2. Women Empowerment 3. Workshops and Activations and 4. The Bi-Monthly Magazine. More on Sibahle and how you can contribute here (printing is expensive né!?)

Wandisile Nqetheko – Gangster Museum

“I thought someone needs to be the voice against all of this – but creatively…”

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Wandisile is tackling gangsterism like a G. The Khayelitsha born and based entrepreneur is the founder of 18 Gangster Museum – a museum that aims to educate young people about the dangers of gangsterism while assisting ex-gang members re-integrate back into society.

The museum will be curated by ex offenders; giving them another shot at the life game by providing them with employment; a space to exhibit and sell their artwork; as well as inform people about gangsterism. Khayelitsha is a 33 year old township and does have a museum, so the 18 Gangster Museum will help to build the economy of Khayelitsha with the tourism market. Who wouldn’t want a (good) tattoo’d thug as a tour guide? Put your weapons down, check out his project and see how you can contribute here.

Philasanda Bongo – Kamva Energy

“We are young people and we want to be part of the change that is necessary. What drives me? Not being defeated by small things…”

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Philasanda comes from a financial background and although he was good at his job; realised that this wasn’t his purpose. One of the things that fascinated Philasanda about South Africa, is how much exposure we have to the sun – yet are still in an energy crisis. In response to the crisis, Philasande is setting up a project that uses solar fields placed on shopping centre roofs to provide electricity for surrounding communities. The Jozi-based entrepreneur, whose project is still in its early stages, hopes his project will provide a reliable source of power during electricity outages. Check it out here. #nomoreblackouts #thanksPhila

Samantha Ngocolomba – Lady Liberty

“If we all do the little bit that we can, there is hope on the other side…”

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“Two out of three African women cannot access basic legal information and services,” says Samantha and it’s a statistic she’s working to change by taking the constitution for a ride. Samantha is a Jozi-based attorney and the founder of Lady Liberty: a mobile legal office that travels to and provides pro bono legal services to women in underprivileged communities. Lady Liberty focuses on empowering women to use the law and so far, her social enterprise has provided legal advice to about 650 women; she hopes to reach 5 000 in the next three years. Check out the Lady Liberty project here. Viva!

Ian Dommisse – The Ecobrick Exchange

“I was an umlungu playing with bottles…”

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EcoBricks are the most colourful (and most whack) looking construction bricks you’ve ever seen. Although they might be made from 2 litre plastic bottles filled with plastic and unrecyclable material, they’re as tough as King Kong’s chest hair and are providing forward-thinking architectural alternatives. EcoBrick Exchange is the brainchild of Port Elizabeth-based social entrepreneur Ian Dommisse. Adressing pollution, employment and basic education facilities – The EcoBricks are used to build-up communities as well as pre-schools in South African townships. Keep playing with those bottles bro! More on EcoBricks and how you can get involved here.

Cleopatra Simelane – Recess Magazine

“I didn’t come from a well-off family like my friends and this made me very insecure…”

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Cleopatra Simelane wanted to create a magazine that reflects young people today and encourages them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Fitness is what got Cleopatra out of a dark space in her teenage years; strengthening her physically and mentally she wanted to share this with the youth. She is the founder of the Recess Movement which produces a magazine created by students that reflects the views of students and has now evolved into an apprenticeship programme.

Recess comes from the idea of ‘taking a break’ – encouraging students to use their ‘breaks’ wisely and constructively, to take time out to think about their goals and balance their lives. The Recess Mag is distributed to about 10 000 young people over 200 schools and they also host events where young people are taught the importance of healthy living through exercise and meditation. Have a break, check it out here.

Lukholo Funde – Biodiesel to generate electricity

“At the end of the day we are not given these ideas to keep to ourselves…”

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Lukholo is using chemistry to take over the world. After getting caught up in the bubble of academia, he began to question what he could do for his community and for humankind. He identified that one of the biggest issues in his community was the lack of electricity. He had the solution in the lab but began to realize a solution on the ground by turning used cooking oil into biodiesel that will be used to generate electricity, as well as jobs, in townships.  His project, Sytrus Energy, is still in its concept stage, but Lukholo has a team, the expertise and heart to turn it into a reality. Check out Lukholo’s project here and see how you can get involved.

Vari Murewiwa – P-Stem Foundation

“How are we empowering our own learners around maths and science?”

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Vari call herself a STEM Education Evangelist and plans to resolve youth unemployment and a growing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills shortage by redirecting at-risk youth into STEM by creating awareness, building interest, cultivating skills and identifying and removing impediments to STEM excellence. Vari believes that learners’ attitudes in South Africa toward these subjects is one of the biggest determining factors of success in these subjects – and this is what she is working to change. Check out Vari’s project here and get in touch if you’re keen to be a STEM volunteer.

Zuko Mandlakazi – Safe and Sound Galaxy

“Three deaf kids died while they were sleeping – I was upset about it and demanded a meeting with the department of science…”

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Growing up with his deaf aunt, Zuko was aware of the everyday challenges facing deaf people. In an attempt break down the communication barrier for deaf people, he’s founded a company that produces a device to assist them maneuver daily life more easily. The impressive, slick wristband he and his team have designed picks up sound, which it then converts to vibrations and LED light signals. His design is in the process of being approved by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Check out Zuko’s project here and offer up your web development and video skills if that’s your vibe. (Spirit of giving yo!)

Glenda Rhamathavha – Love Baked

“And I said: I haven’t done it yet, but I can try…”

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One week into her maternity leave, Glenda got bored. Her boredom got her bizarrely into baking and since then, Glenz Cakes (name recently changed to Loved Baked) has grown into a successful company. The brainchild of Midrand-based entrepreneur, Glenda Ramathavha, the business addresses issues in rural areas such as unemployment and lack of housing by teaching young people and women how to bake, business skills, how to connect with potential clients… as well as make their own bricks. Glenda, who currently works full-time as a financial manager (running her cake business through the wee hours) – hopes to focus on her project full time in the near future and she sure as hell ain’t gonna be bored. Have a slice of Glenda’s project here.

Bushera Bashir – Trebene

“I always thought – I want to conquer these mountains, I want to see what the world looks like from there…”

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Bushera spent half her life in Sri Lanka and was always fascinated by the culture of craftsmanship, the mystery and magic in the many structures and artworks which she grew up surrounded by. Knowing that it can take up to thirty days to weave a pashmina scarf, she was frustrated by the exploitation of cashmere weaver communities in Kashmir (often coming across shops selling three pashmina’s for ten dollars on her travels).

The now Jozi-based entrepreneur is the founder of Trebene: an ethical fashion label that produces handcrafted, luxury cashmere scarves. The scarves are designed in South Africa and manufactured in Kashmir, South Asia, and a portion of the revenue generated is invested in the education of the scarf weavers children. Check out Bushera’s project here.

Thabang Mabapa – SA Dimelana

“It all started when I went to clean the community church…”

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Don’t let Thabang’s age punk you. He might be a fresh out the box 23-year-old, but he’s a forward thinker who is helping to re-define agriculture in South Africa and create employment. The Soweto raised (but Limpopo-based) PR graduate is the founder of Selokong sa Dimelana: a project that uses castor oil and castor cake as a more ethical alternative to fossil fuel. They have just received permission to begin farming on a large plot of land and are in need of machinery to help them get there. Check out his project and how you can help here. The project is still in its early stages but Thabang is making power moves to ensure its success. Big up brother!

Dumisani Msweli – Ibala Organics

“My vision is to plant the value of trees in people’s hearts…”

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Dumisani wants to green the planet starting in his hood in Umlazi, Durban. His idea is to plant (and maintain) fruit trees in township homes whereby the homeowners sell the fruit to him and he will, in turn, sell the produce to organic markets and juice makers. It’s his way of creating employment while showing some love for the environment. His project, Ibala Organics, has the vision to create a network for trading products across Durban, from one community to another. (If it doesn’t work out, God forbid, we reckon Dumisani would make a perfect ‘Face of Kauai’.) Check out Dumisani’s project here and how you can get involved. We know he’s looking for assistance building a website ahead of his official project launch in January 2016.

Shalton Mothwa – Aeon Power Bag

“It doesn’t mean if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist…”

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Shalton Mothwa is a self-professed nerd. Technology and science is his buzz and his list of un-pronouncable accolades in the technology field are vast. The nuclear physics honours graduate is the inventor of the AEON Power Bag — a small bag that turns radio signals into electric energy that can be used to wirelessly charge your cellphone or tablet – anytime, anywhere baby. For every AEON power bag that is bought, one is donated to communities/areas/organizations with limited access to electricity, where charging up is a daily struggle. Say no to battery low! Check out the AEON power bag here and tell the money makers to invest!

Siviwe Mbinda – Happy Feet Youth Project

“What if there was more inspiration for someone growing up in my neighbourhood?”

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Growing up in Langa, just five minutes away from the city of Cape Town – Siviwe Mbinda only went into Cape Town, saw Table Mountain, the Winelands and Robben Island for first time in 2007. He knew he was not alone. “Here in the township all these things that can broaden your mind are too close, but they are too far…” says Siviwe. So he founded Happy Feet: a youth-focused dance project based in Langa, Cape Town.

The project teaches local children dance and secures performances for them at special events as well as boosting the tourism industry in Langa. The children also receive meals, educational bursaries and donations – but one of the highlights is getting them out of the township for performances and excursions, to broaden their minds and spread their wings just a little further. Check out Happy Feet here and help fund a scholarship if you dig!

*Images © Red Bull Amaphiko and Sihle Mkhasibe

**Quotes taken from the participant’s project presentations given this year at the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy held this November in Langa, Cape Town in proud partnership with Old Mutual

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