Mathys Pretorius

Inventor and founder, Common Toilet

“It’s important to do shit that matters. There are too many problems affecting those who are most vulnerable, with too few people giving a shit.”

This is the motto Mathys Pretorius, better known as Matt, holds true. With a hunger to learn more and to figure out why things are the way they are, Matt likes to invent things, creatively solve problems, and experiment with possibilities.

He formalised this in his studies, completing a civil engineering degree in advanced structural design and project management, followed by his master’s in industrial engineering.

It’s often said not many inventors become successful entrepreneurs. But Matt proves this theory wrong. He has developed an environmentally friendly sanitation system for impoverished communities, with the aim of providing basic sanitation for all. Simply named Common Toilet, the company aims to empower impoverished communities by providing incentives for them to collect plastic and trade it with the company in exchange for an all-in-one eco-toilet. The units are manufactured using the recycled plastic.

Litter, in effect, becomes a currency for families to acquire these toilets, thereby encouraging plastic recycling while providing much-needed sanitation.

The concept was awarded first prize in the “For Society” category of the #MazarsforGood Innovation Challenge 2015.

Matt intends to use the prize money from the award to file a patent, develop the concept further and, with financial assistance from the department of science and technology and international partners, run a pilot project in Khayelitsha.

Matt believes the greatest challenge facing South Africa today is the breaking down of stereotypes and preconceived ideas.

“Due to the corruption, crime and lack of political and financial stability, we haven’t been able to work through our underlining racial tensions and inequality. The challenge we face is to build trust among people from very different backgrounds and collectively work together in solving problems.” — Linda Doke

Twitter: @Matt_Pret