While most teenagers would rather hang out with friends or spend time on social media, Grade 11 pupils Makobe and Molo from the Leap Science & Maths School in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, are focused on helping farmers in their communities.

The youngsters were motivated by PrimeStars Marketing’s Step Up 2 a Start-Up initiative last year. The initiative works with various schools and disadvantaged communities in Gauteng, providing pupils with an introduction to technology and thus encouraging entrepreneurship.

Both girls attended the programme and were encouraged to watch the educational film Vukuzenzele, which was created for the initiative. The programme gave the girls a toolkit to help them identify and realise a business idea to help their community, but they had to find an innovative way of helping with environmental issues.

“We were motivated by the film and wanted to participate in the programme. We had to come up with a great idea and enter it in a competition hosted by Step Up 2,” recalls Makobe. With the help of their school teachers, they focused on agriculture and the inability of many communities to find wholesome, fresh food.

“We identified a farm in our area and began researching what was needed. We began to volunteer after school and realised that the farms were dirty and had old people working on them who couldn’t keep up with the daily duties,” explains Molo.

This was how the idea of creating a recyclable net to collect mulch was born.

The net’s also able to measure the pH levels in the soil and, with the creation of an app, will allow farmers to have this information at their fingertips.

The girls also realised that farmers who don’t have enough suppliers can use the app to identify retailers nearby who could buy their produce.

“We’re still negotiating with cellphone companies to assist with smartphones for the farmers while we complete the app. It’s a long road,  but we hope to generate income from subscriptions to it,” says Molo.

They’re also raising funds for the project by selling snacks to their peers. Leaders in their school’s Green Club, they’ve gotten pupils involved in planting and selling their own produce too.

“We really want to give back to our community any way we can and, thankfully, our school’s been great at supporting us,” says Makobe.