Nuts and electricity bolts: KZN Grade 11 girls score big with eco-friendly coal business

Thulile Zikhali, Zanele Khwela and Tiffany Ogbonnaya presenting their business plan.

Thulile Zikhali, Zanele Khwela and Tiffany Ogbonnaya presenting their business plan.

  • Three Year 11 students are over the moon after their eco-friendly business venture netted them cash, tablets and bursaries.
  • The winning business plan includes environmentally friendly charcoal made from marula nuts.
  • Coal is derived from marula nuts in an effort to reduce fossil fuel extraction and depleting natural resources.

Three Year 11 girls from Sibusisiwe Comp Tech High School in KwaZulu-Natal were the overall winners of the Step Up 2A National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards, receiving a R20,000 cash prize, a tablet and a grant for their eco-friendly business plan. Marula nuts for coal source.

Thulile Zikhali, Zanele Khwela and Tiffany Ogbonnaya, all 16, said they were still in shock after receiving the award.

Speaking to News24, the enthusiastic teenagers said their winning business idea recognizes the scarcity of coal as an energy source and they have decided to create an alternative that is environmentally friendly. Coal is conceptually derived from marula nuts in an effort to reduce fossil fuel extraction and depleting natural resources.

“When we were doing life orientation earlier this year, our teacher gave us a project on how to find environmentally friendly energy sources, and from our own research we found a case study on the fact that we can use marula nuts. He made coal. And we thought, “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?”

When we entered the startup competition, which required us to come up with a startup idea that would solve an environmental problem, we already had the basics of our program and expanded the concept of the competition. Tiffany said.

The three teenagers said they spent eight months working on the winning project.

We first wrote about it in the life orientation class [then] We’ve been working on it over the break, discussing the idea and doing more research. Then we entered the startup competition and expanded our concept further and turned it into a business idea.”

We then made it to the top 10 of the competition and were invited to the boot camp process in Johannesburg. There we took the concept further because we learned more about the concepts of entrepreneurship and business that can help the environment at the same time.”

Read “I didn’t know she could write so well” – Mother of Grade 4 story competition winner in Cape Town

According to these girls, the initial design was formed when they had to do a life orientation project on environmentally friendly energy sources.

“But then we entered a startup competition that needed a business idea that also solved an environmental problem, and so we realized we had the perfect concept,” Tiffany added.

Also Read :  Entrepreneur Houston White has a lot going on

Marula nuts

We collect the nuts and then burn them for 45 minutes and then they turn into coal. Marula nut charcoal then acts like any other charcoal and can be used as a heat source. It’s great because it comes from a coal. Thulile said: renewable resource and from a native tree.

The girls said they were already working on plans to turn it into a real business, even though they were “still high school kids.”

According to the teenagers, they couldn’t believe it when they were announced as the overall winners.

Tiffany said:

I’m not one to cry when I’m happy, but I did. I didn’t expect to win and there were so many teams with great business ideas and I really didn’t think we would have a chance. We did not expect it.

“I was so surprised. I told the girls, ‘Oh, we didn’t make it, but we’ll try next time.’ But when they called our name, it was like a dream come true. I even asked Zanele to pinch me.” I was very happy.”

“I didn’t really expect to be called as the winning team because the other teams were brilliant, but I was so excited and honored when they called our name,” Zanele said.

proud teacher

The girl’s proud teacher, Thandenani Myende, said she was “delighted” that the girls had won.

“The government talks a lot about empowering women, and I feel like I’ve really played a part in doing that by helping these girls win the race,” she said.

Also Read :  Inaugural award celebrates faculty entrepreneurs

It is very important to involve children in environmentally friendly businesses. We are all beginning to experience the issues of global warming, and these projects help us save what we have left and teach learners to be responsible, informed citizens. in the world, and helping to make it cleaner and more sustainable”.


Primestars CEO Martin Sweet with the winning trio of Tiffany Ogbonnaya, Zanele Khwela, Thulile Zikhali from Sibusisiwe Comp-Tech High School in KZN.

Offered Offered

The girls plan to start this business next year.

Thulile said: “We are planning to start the business next year, then we ask people to look after our business while we are in matric, but after that (we are done with school) We can focus on that.”

National Green Youth Entrepreneurship Program Step Up 2 A green start-up, run by youth development agency Primestars, has helped nearly 100,000 young people over the past eight years to become “a positive force for both the planet and the South”. Thirsty to find work. Africans, using environmental challenges as new business opportunities.

Primestars CEO Martin Sweet said: “To create entrepreneurs and reduce high unemployment, our young people need to learn the skills and develop the competencies that will enable them to create businesses and thrive in a circular, restorative, inclusive and clean economy. Become beneficial employers.” .


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.