Science is her middle name

2017-08-01 06:01

A NEW Germany woman is making a name for herself in the world of science after

Bathabile Mpofu created Chemstart, a portable laboratory designed to expose young people who don’t have access to these facilities at school to the wonder of science and experiments as early on as possible.

Bathabile has had a passion for science from an early age and although she has achieved a variety of commendable milestones in her life, it’s not exactly what she originally set out to do.

The 36-year-old wanted to be a doctor, but she applied and wasn’t able to join the programme. On re-commendation she pursued a Bachelor of Science for one year as many people do in order to make the cut for medicine.

Part of the reason why this was necessary is because she had not been exposed to laboratories or experiments while she was in high school. This put her on the back foot and made it exceedingly difficult to compete with her peers. This is true for many students in South Africa, where schools are under resourced.

Bathabile never went on to pursue medicine, instead she completed her under-grad and post-graduate studies. She holds a BSc (Hons) degree from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, as well as a PDBA and an MBA from the University of Cape Town.

She hopes to make science more easily accessible to young people who would ordinarily first encounter it properly once they get to university.

She wants science to be a comfortable experience so that more time can be spent actually producing great work, rather than first needing to become acquainted with it.

Bathabile is one of the social entrepreneurs selected for this year’s Red Bull Amaphiko Academy.

The Amaphiko Academy, established in 2014, grew out of Red Bull’s ongoing mission to identify and develop talented people and to help them achieve their full potential.

In the past, Red Bull had focused on athletes, musicians and dancers. As a natural extension of this mission, Amaphiko (Zulu for wings) was launched to “give wings” specifically to grassroots social entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their communities, and to inspire a broad audience to do the same.

This year, 16 of South Africa’s brightest social entrepreneurs will come together in Mamelodi, Pretoria, for a 10-day residential programme of mentorship, inspiration and practical skills training. Participants will have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with mentors who include leading local and international innovators, entrepreneurs and storytellers.

Afterwards, they will continue working over the next 18 months with their mentors one-on-one, to further develop business and personal strategies for the plans that they will bring to life.

Thabang Mabapa is a past Amaphiko Academy participant, whose business, Selokong Sa Dimelana (SSD), focuses on the farming and processing of castor oil for biofuel production.

“The support and mentorship that I received at the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy helped me to realise the potential of my business, and to understand how it could become sustainable. Amaphiko helped me lay a solid foundation and transform SSD into a social enterprise that makes an impact while driving profits,” he said.

Red Bull believes that the social challenges of a country like South Africa are most effectively addressed when ordinary people use their creativity and energy to find innovative solutions to problems in their own communities. Red Bull Amaphiko aims to support people who do just that, helping to empower individuals creating social change, and to celebrate their achievements with a wider audience, with the hope of inspiring everyone to make a difference in their own way.

The other participant from Durban is 30-year-old Nozipho Zulu whose project, ZuluGal Retro, benefits people with special needs by training them to produce handcrafted fashion accessories using upcycled chip wrappers, plastic and beads.



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