Award-winning entrepreneur develops portable Science kit for disadvantaged youth

As an award-winning Scientist and social entrepreneur based in Durban, Bathabile Mpofu is passionate about spreading knowledge and providing the tools for science-based experiments.

She’s the founder of ChemStart, a business in the business of distributing portable science labs to disadvantaged schools. Mpofu makes Science kits for school pupils, which she sells and distributes to needy township, rural schools and directly to parents.

Mpofu says that the school she went to didn’t have a Science lab. She adds that as much as Science is theory-based, it’s also a practical subject.

When I got to University I realised how unprepared I was for tertiary education.

Bathabile Mpofu, award-winning social entrepreneur, Scientist and founder of ChemStart

My first time in a lab was overwhelming says Mpofu. I didn’t pass well enough in first year to make it into medical school she adds.

I know the problem was that my high school education was weak.

Bathabile Mpofu, award-winning social entrepreneur, Scientist and founder of ChemStart

Mpofu says that in her first year – she studied chemistry and biology. She continued with the two courses until her final year and fortunately, got employed by the University.

I would prepare Science experiments for University students says Mpofu. I observed that students who came from model C schools, would perform the experiments within an hour but those that were from disadvantaged areas stayed in the lab longer she adds.

The problem was the fact that they were meeting chemicals and apparatus for the first time.

Bathabile Mpofu, award-winning social entrepreneur, Scientist and founder of ChemStart

At that point I thought something needs to happen and I need to do something says Mpofu.

Before studying her MBA, Mpofu was going to disadvantaged schools and performing Science experiments. I was only going to the schools once a week which was problematic she says.

I realised that there wasn’t a long term impact.

Bathabile Mpofu, award-winning social entrepreneur, Scientist and founder of ChemStart

Mpofu says that she developed ChemStart around the Grade 10 – 12 Science curriculum. She adds that it’s normally chemistry experiments so tools like basic apparatus and chemicals can be found in the kit.

Listen to Mpofu's journey in the link below...


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