Boitshepo Gopane is an MSc Microbiology graduate, a BWIS-SA Fellow Black Women in Science and a humble visionary in the fight against climate change as it relates to solid waste in Africa and the world.
Prompted by her modest beginnings and her determination to make a difference in the lives of the people of South Africa outside of her lab, this self-confessed fungi-obsessed junior microbiologist has an impressive list of awards under her belt. Among others, she has received recognition from North West University, the Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum, Black Women in Science and the Vodacom Youth Connected Roadshow.
It is her passion for utilising technology as a catalyst for meeting genuine needs, while still making a profit, that won her the NWU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Most Promising Student Innovation Idea for the “WeClean Recycling Company”. This, in turn, birthed her own technology recycling business.
A gifted speaker, this self-driven and passionate researcher and STEM advocate is showing recycling companies, retailers, manufacturers, hotels, shipping and freight companies how they can make money, save the planet and ultimately achieve the 2030 National Development Plan.
Her next step? Launching her new business while applying for her PhD.
You would expect nothing less . . .
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Coming of Age – By Foster the People
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Pursuing my post-graduate studies in Microbiology instead of looking for a job. Where I grew up, that was unheard of. You were meant to look for a job as soon as possible to care for your family.
If Mars was liveable, would you accept a one-way ticket there?
If you were given one thousand acres of land what would you do with it?
Invest the other portion, open a technology recycling company and use sustainable farming to feed and give back to the community.
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
A hunter. I believe in gathering your own legacy and making your own crown.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Lasagne and green salad. I love cheese and greens.
How would people communicate in a perfect world?
Verbally or directly via telepathy and ideally without devices.
When you have 30 minutes of free time – how do you pass it?
It’s the simple pleasures. I bond with my baby or chat to my twin sister, read a few pages of my novel, check my emails or social media or take a nap.
If you woke up to 300 unread emails, how would you prioritise which ones to answer?
At the moment, I am job-searching, so job opportunities take precedence, then business emails, those from my mentor and LinkedIn.
Where do you go and what do you do to find peace and recharge?
I like to go for a 5-10km run, listen to inspirational videos or TED talks, gospel music, take a hot bath or eat a nice meal.
If you could know the absolute answer to one question, what question would you ask?
Why are some people so greedy?
If you could write one new law that everybody had to obey, what would it be?
I would decree a mandatory cleaning hour every week and punishment for throwing away any kind of waste.
What, if anything, have you ever re-gifted?
I have made my own gift which is patience, endurance and humbleness.
What is the most interesting thing you have seen or read this week?
What skill or craft would you like to master?
Swimming and painting.
If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what would it be?
What/who inspired you to start your recycling business?
My neighbours are the ones who sparked my curiosity, making me realise that people can actually put food on the table as well as a roof over their heads from recycling. While I was studying my master’s degree in Microbiology at Northwest University, I met Mr Johann Landsberg, Centre Manager of bhive Enterprise Development. He encouraged me to enter the Leopards Lair Fair Entrepreneurship Competition where I pitched my idea of a technology recycling company and ultimately won the competition. That’s where my journey began.
Because of the love I have for the environment and for people in marginalised communities. I want to raise awareness to show people who are marginalised that we can achieve the 2030 NDP and make a living out of it.