Amahle Ntshinga is a true changemaker. The 27-year-old South African woman has developed an e-commerce platform to help boost her country\u2019s economy. LUNTU, which launched in August, enables consumers to use their purchasing power for good by giving them an easy way to shop for products that align with their values. The online marketplace brings together a number of companies that sell everything from coffee to apparel and beauty and self-care products. To make shopping for mission-driven products easy, LUNTU uses a scoring system to highlight the social cause that the business benefits. The LUNTU index classifies products into a number of categories, including cruelty-free, vegan, womxn-owned, Black-owned, eco-friendly, and fair trade\u2014just to name a few. Ntshinga told LIVEKINDLY she hopes this type of transparency will encourage more businesses to be more sustainable. \u201cLUNTU is also about the environment. We\u2019re not going to get any type of real change in the commercial space unless we stop supporting companies that aren\u2019t doing anything to progress society,\u201d Ntshinga says.\u00a0 \u201cOnce people decide to use their purchasing power, then all these other corporations that are not doing what\u2019s good for society\u2014I think it will entice them to change,\u201d she continues. Boosting South Africa\u2019s Economy Bloomberg\u2019s Misery Index ranks some of the world\u2019s economies based on unemployment and inflation rates. According to the index, South Africa has the third-most miserable economy in the world after Venezuela and Argentina. South Africa\u2019s unemployment rate came in at 30 percent\u2014the highest it\u2019s been in ten years. And the coronavirus pandemic is making things much worse. Earlier this year, the National Treasury predicted the country\u2019s unemployment rate could surge to 50 percent, with more than seven million people out of jobs due to the outbreak. But South Africa\u2019s economy has struggled even prior to the pandemic. Ntshinga says she\u2014along with LUNTU\u2019s founding partner, Zamaswazi Shabangu, started the e-commerce site to bring more jobs to South Africa. \u201cMost of our industries are so monopolized. We don\u2019t really have much of a startup culture. Most of our small businesses don\u2019t turn in to medium-sized businesses\u2014either they stay small or they shut down,\u201d Ntshinga explains.\u00a0 According to the research networking site Research Gate, the failure rate for new business start-ups in South Africa is incredibly high. This is namely due to the inaccessibility to debt finance from commercial banks. https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/p\/CDTC17ej7MS\/ Conscious Consumerism Ntshinga conceived the idea for LUNTU nearly four years ago while she was a student in business school. Although she was very supportive of women empowerment and the Black Lives Matter movement, she said she didn\u2019t find herself consciously supporting women- and Black-owned businesses. \u201cI realized the reason I didn\u2019t do it is because I can\u2019t find them easy enough. And it\u2019s just inconvenient to support the businesses that I want to support,\u201d she explains. \u201cWhen I realized there was a gap in the market, I came up with the idea.\u201d As social awareness for issues like climate change, racism, and animal cruelty grow, people are now more driven to live consciously\u2014and shop consciously, too. \u201cThere\u2019s more of a drive to be conscious in general. And I feel like the timing of launching LUNTU is perfect because it\u2019s almost like divine timing,\u201d she explains. Ntshinga says LUNTU\u2019s ideal customer is someone who is aware of how necessary social change is in the world. \u201cIt\u2019s for someone who values quality. But also somebody who is conscious and understands the importance of one dollar and how important your dollar is.\u201d And, so far, she says the customer reception to LUNTU has been positive. \u201cA lot of people are happy because it is a conscious shopping platform that\u2019s actually owned by someone who is part of the demographic.\u201d https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/p\/CFq6HhUDtd9\/ LUNTU: Building the Community Through her online marketplace, Ntshinga is able to give South African-based businesses opportunities that they might not otherwise have. Some of the vendors featured on her site include South African-owned companies like T-Shirts for Change and Sunburst Creations. The latter makes African-style pillow covers. She says: \u201cAll the vendors signing up, they\u2019re so happy. And every time I pay them their part of the money, I always feel excited. Because these are sales they might not have had without LUNTU.\u201d\u00a0 \u201cSmall vendors have a wider customer base with LUNTU, so they could increase their sales and hopefully increase their job opportunities and try and get some economy running in South Africa,\u201d she continues.\u00a0 And Ntshinga says, above all, LUNTU\u2014a Xhosa word that means community and society\u2014is all about building together. \u201cIn our culture in South Africa, we have something called \u201cubuntu,\u201d which is all about the community. You\u2019re not going to be a savior and help everyone at the expense of yourself,\u201d she continues. \u201cYou know we all build the table so we can eat together. We all cook the food together and we eat together.\u201d Overall, Ntshinga's goal is for LUNTU to generate significant revenue streams for her employees and the site\u2019s featured vendors. She hopes this will help foster economic growth for South Africa. \u201cLUNTU is not an NGO. It is without a doubt a for-profit organization. I definitely am trying to get money. I\u2019m also trying to live the life I want to be living. But I don\u2019t want to do it at the expense of other people or the expense of the planet. And I truly believe that all of us can live the lifestyle we want to live together,\u201d she says. In the next five years, she wants LUNTU to be the number one mission-driven e-commerce retailer in South Africa. This way, she can widen her impact. \u201cThe nice thing about LUNTU is that it\u2019s an ecosystem. So if we have a thousand vendors on the platform, that\u2019s a thousand vendors that are getting money that they didn\u2019t have before. I think about many South African lives we are impacting that way and it makes me very excited,\u201d she adds. To learn more about LUNTU, click here or follow Ntshinga and LUNTU on social media.