Nka'Thuto EduPropeller

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Nka' Thuto EduPropeller
IndustrySocial Entrepreneurship, Education
FoundersThandeka Mhlanga and Thulile Khanyile
South Africa

Editor: Charissa Cassels

Nka’Thuto EduPropeller is a non-profit organisation established in April 2016 and officially registered in January 2017.[1] The organisation is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.[2] Nka’Thuto EduPropeller was founded by Thandeka Mhlanga and Thulile Khanyile, the company’s Executive Directors.

Nka’Thuto’s mission is to advance innovation, science and creativity in previously disadvantaged communities. They aim to develop problem-solving skills through teaching science research principles and creating platforms to commercialise science and engineering solutions. Their values are leadership, passion, quality and excellence.[3]

Nka’Thuto is directly translated from the isiZulu word ‘Thathulwazi’ which loosely translates to Take Education.


Nka’Thuto aims to solve the social challenges found in the education system. Learners at a basic educational level battle to absorb information in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, which leads to a low number of students with STEM qualifications at the tertiary level.

The programme aims to create a generation of young leaders who will become innovators and subsequently contribute to the country’s GDP with its objectives being to spark an interest in STEM careers among learners, to expose learners to the process of research and finding solutions to societal problems, to facilitate learners to translate their research findings into business solutions with the potential to reach commercialization. Learners with projects that have potential are then invited to convert their research into a product, device or service that would form the basis of their entrepreneurial ventures. The benefits of participating in the programme are the fact that learners can accomplish the above but also that there is prize money available as well. The prize money is used to allow all the beneficiary students to attend a field trip to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.[4]

The goal for Nka’Thuto is for it to become a global platform, that enables youth from all around Africa to develop business ideas and to commercialise them ensuring that they develop healthy economies for Africa.[5] The programme employs 12 young people, most of who are STEM graduates.[6]


Nka’Thuto has a seven-tier process that includes an activation stage, workshops stage, consultation stage, innovation expo - internal school level, computer skills workshop, final innovation expo, and an entrepreneurship expo - pitching competition. The other activities include an inaugural prize-giving gala dinner, Digicate i2M EduBot competition, John Maxwell leadership workshop, and young professionals networking golf clinic.[7]

Nka’Thuto hosts an Innovations Club, a wing that has been designed for the organization’s alumni, to enhance their knowledge and skills they acquired through the organisation’s 7-tier programme. It includes creative writing, debating, coding and robotics.[8]

The programme targets learners at basic education levels from previously disadvantaged areas, including primary and high school learners from Grade one to Grade 11 in townships and rural areas. Their current beneficiary schools are Leondale High School in Katlehong, Ivory Park Secondary School in Tembisa and Illinge High School in Vosloorus.[9]

The programme encourages high school learners to become technopreneurs. Innovation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles are used to assist students in being able to solve problems their communities are facing. Additional tools are provided to learners such as computers, laptops, connectivity, mentorship, career guidance and industry exposure.

Additionally, the TechnoPreneurship programme involves learners being placed in business teams, where they are equipped with skills and ideas to improve their innovative ideas. They are also exposed to entrepreneurs who assist them with their expert knowledge. The winner of this programme is selected by a panel of business developers and investors that the high school learners have to pitch to.[10]


Nka’Thuto Science and Business Expo and the Nka’Thuto science Expo is a platform for high school learners to showcase their science research projects. Students are encouraged to find problems in their communities that their projects can solve. After finding solutions, the project will be evaluated by a qualified panel of judges. Successful projects will allow the learners to partake in a 5-day business workshop. Thereafter students will pitch their ideas to innovators, business and industry experts. Feasible and successful projects will be held in a trust until learners have completed their studies and can decide what direction their project will head into.[11]