With so many rural areas in South Africa deprived of access to basic municipal services, the simple things – like being able to charge a cellphone – become luxuries. With an estimated 80 million active cellphone users in South Africa and counting, it takes a true innovation to find a way to charge a phone without using electricity.
Puleng Motupa, a 22-year-old entrepreneur from Nobody Village in Polokwane, became frustrated with the unreliable electricity supply in his hometown, especially because it made communicating and growing his business much more challenging. In response, Motupa invented the Light Energy Charger, a device that converts sunlight into an energy source powerful enough to charge a cellphone battery.
Puleng’s invention was chosen as the winning entry at Transnet South Africa’s ‘Moving Ideas Competition’, and also attracted the attention ofSABS, which offered to develop a prototype of his charger. Motupa has since registered his company and now holds the import and export licenses allowing him to sell his innovative invention worldwide.
Motupa’s passion to start his own company stemmed after he joined aJunior Achievement South Africa (JA South Africa) entrepreneurship programme in 2012 at his school, where he was given a platform to explore his own creativity and turn his ideas into reality. Motupa believes that JA South Africa played a central role in inspiring him and his colleagues to take the leap and start their own business venture.
“JA South Africa helped me to realise my dreams of being my own boss, and gave me the skills set and practical experience needed to become an entrepreneur,” he says. “Growing up, I pictured myself as a social worker and at one point even a navy diver, but that I have been on the JA South Africa programme and seen the possibility and opportunities, I know that being an entrepreneur is the route for me – I believe that the sky is the limit.”
Motupa aspires to be like Mark Zuckerburg or Steve Jobs, because they are world-renowned entrepreneurs who took their passion for changing the world and turned into success, he says. Apart from his Light Energy Charger, Motupa is currently working on a communication device, a drug detecting device and a portable gym.
“The lack of financial support for young entrepreneurs and small business owners in South Africa is a major challenge. You can have a great idea and all the documents required for your company under the law, but still struggle to get funding, especially in the ICT industry.
“That is why organisations such as JA South Africa are so important. Knowing that there is an organisation committed to developing entrepreneurs takes some of stress off you, because they help open doors of opportunity for the South African youth,” says Motupa.
JA South Africa is an NGO and is affiliated with JA Worldwide, one of the largest business education organisations in the world operating in over 120 countries. For the past 37 years, JA South Africa has provided essential entrepreneurial and financial literacy programmes to young people across the country, in both rural and urban environments.
For more information on JA’s programmes, visit http://www.jasa.org.za/JASAProgrammes.html or contact acting Managing Director, Nelly Mofokeng on 011 331 3150.
Article originally appeared on South Africa The Good News