In 2016, Kekeletso Tsiloane successfully prototyped the PlastiBrick, an invention that uses recycled plastic to manufacture stock and maxi bricks that are strong, durable, fire retardant, and environmentally friendly.
“We developed the PlastiBrick with the aim of reducing plastic waste. Another added benefit is that no water is used in the production of the bricks, thus helping with the preservation of water. We collect plastic from landfills, households, and waste pickers and use it as raw materials,” says Kekeletso.
“We aim to empower women, youth, and disabled individuals. We would like to facilitate training in recycling materials and employ more women in the manufacturing of PlastiBrick. As for the youth, we aim to train and employ unemployed youth and those at university. The manufacturing operation does not require much skill and therefore we would like to employ disabled individuals,” says Kekeletso.
PlastiBrick has a prototype that has been tested against the South African Bureau of Standards and found to be stronger and less absorbent than cement bricks. It has been sold to small scale contractors, but they are at capacity at the moment as bricks are sold in bulk.
“Competitively, our bricks are not only environmentally friendly but are denser and therefore have a lower water absorption rate, allowing a building to have a longer lifespan,” says Kekeletso.
Kekeletso has nine permanent employees.
“Winning The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards would give us a chance to purchase an automatic machine that will apply heat pressure to melt the plastic that will bond with other additives then moulded into bricks. Another benefit would be getting mentorship to assist us in growing the business as we would like to sell the technology of the bricks across the continent”, says Kekeletso.
Kekeletso Tsiloane is a finalist in the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards.
Launched in 2011, The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards forms part of the SAB Foundation’s primary focus to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa. To date, the programme has invested in over 100 entrepreneurs and their innovations. The Social Innovation Awards invest in innovative business ideas that can solve social problems. This includes, but is not limited to energy, water, health, education, housing, and food security.
Other Inspiration: My father. He taught me and my sister/cofounder from a young age to be independent and not let fear control us. He helped us dream big, work hard, and taught us things that seemed dangerous at first, like riding a bike and horse riding amongst others which our mother despised.
What motivated you to come up with your innovation? My motivation started with the exposure we had in the construction industry. My father had a construction company and would often take us to the site. This is where my passion grew.
Something about your journey as an entrepreneur and innovator? Our entrepreneurial journey has been an adventure. It taught us that entrepreneurship means knowing everything about your company not just what you specialize in. It’s also a lonely journey and one needs to be strong mentally and physically. As women, we need to be tenacious and persistent.