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  1. Yannick Nzonde, 29, DRC

Co-Founder: ATI Groupe

Nzonde is a brave man. Five years ago, he founded ATI Groupe, a construction company, with the R6,000 ($478) he earned from renting out his friend’s BMW that he had borrowed for a weekend. He is also the founder of Mulundu Investment Holdings, which houses ATI Groupe and Chi Groupe, a management consulting firm. Mulundu Investment Holdings turns over a million dollars in revenue each year for the 29-year-old.

This is a long way from where it all began when he was only 14. Nzonde is a brave man. “I had bought a watch from a local market place in DRC for $5. One of my younger brother’s friends loved it so much he offered to buy it from me for $20. The next day, someone else offered me more for the same watch,” he says.

It marked the start of a rewarding entrepreneurship journey. He sold everything he could get his hands on. At 15, he relocated to South Africa where he started buying computers, solar lights, fat burners and pool tables and selling them back home.

“I have always been the person to find solutions to problems and people have always come to me. I have always been the person to jump on opportunities once I see a gap in the market. I have also always wanted to leave a legacy.”

Nzonde says he lives by the words of American marketing specialist Guy Kawasaki: “The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

One of the many ways he is making the world better is through providing power solutions in rural DRC.

“We are the second company to have brought solar energy solutions to the DRC in the Katanga region. This changed many lives as people are used to generators while some had never seen electricity before,” says Nzonde.

Not bad for a man who comes from a family of 24 and walked 15km to school.

 

2. Leroy Mwasaru, 20, Kenya

Founder: Greenpact

This 20-year-old is making money from waste while solving a serious problem. He is the founder of Greenpact, a company which produces and distributes affordable and high-quality innovative biogas digester systems to get bio-gas from both agricultural and human refuse. His mission is guided by the overarching vision to become the leading provider of clean household energy solutions across East Africa. He has won many accolades including the Innovate Kenya challenge in 2013.

 

3. Ladipo Lawani, 29, Nigeria

Founder: L&L Foods

L&L foods is a food processing and packaging company focused on the Nigerian market. They source agricultural produce from local farmers and transform them into quality snacks. Their primary line of products is a premium brand of nuts called Mr Ekpa. Lawani employs 12 people.

 

4. Emmanuel Ademola Ayilara, 29, Nigeria

Founder: LandWey Investment Limited

LandWey is a real estate development and management company turning over $14 million per year. It started with just five employees. Today, they employ 42 full-time staff, 370 realtors and 16,000 consultants.

Ayilara’s journey to entrepreneurship started when he was in school. His first stint was at a coaching center in Abeokuta, Ogun State in Nigeria. The business failed. He tried his hand again, this time, running a vocational training program with over 3,600 students.

“Once I had a taste of success, there was no turning back. Starting and running businesses became my turf and all I had to do was build more capacity. I always believed opportunities would come to those who were most prepared so I put in the hard work even when no one noticed,” he says.

 

5. Mwiya Musokotwane, 28, Zambia

Founder: Thebe Investment Management

Musokotwane knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur at age 16 after reading US billionaire Warren Buffet’s biography. It inspired him to secure a degree in finance. His first venture in business was when he co-founded a tech startup while pursuing his Master’s. The business failed. At 23, he had a dream to build a mega city. Armed with lessons from the first business, he worked tactfully. At 24, he left his job to pursue it. With the help of his family, he founded Thebe Investment Management. The company is the owner and developer of Nkwashi, a 3,100 acre mega-project in Lusaka, Zambia. By age 25, he had generated $1 million in cash flow. He employs 80 people.

6. Nomvula Mhambi, 29, Zimbabwe 

Founder: Disruptive Innovation

When her mother couldn’t afford to take her to university because of the economic and political downturn in Zimbabwe, Mhambi turned to entrepreneurship. She registered a catering and events management company at age 19. She was later invited to work on a concert that featured Akon and Sean Paul. It opened doors.

A year later, she was called to assist with artiste logistics for a concert that hosted Ciara, Phat Joe, Lil’ Kim and DJ Scratch. At age 22, her company was contracted by DStv Zimbabwe to host their Big Brother events. She saw a gap in the advertising industry and founded Disruptive Innovation, a full service media communications and advertising social enterprise.

For the first two years of the business, many doors were shut in her face. When she was close to giving up, she was selected for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) where she won a $25,000 grant towards her restroom advertising pilot project.

“I tackle urban hygiene and sanitation issues using market-based approaches improving public amenities through social innovation initiatives with my advertising and marketing social enterprise,” she says.

Mhambi has partnered with local municipalities, renovating dilapidated public toilets, and charging people for use.

This revenue is used to maintain the sites, assist schools in need of sanitation hardware and help clients get their product to their consumers.

Mhambi also runs a hair and nail lounge and is also into agriculture, growing button and oyster mushrooms, which she supplies to a majority of Zimbabwe’s supermarkets and restaurants producing over 1,000 punnets per week. She employs 25 full-time and 12 part-time staff.

 

7. Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed Falalu, 28, Nigera

Founder: FaLGates

Falalu saw an opportunity to make money when he realized Nigeria consumes about seven million metric tonnes of rice and only produces 2.7 million metric tonnes, forcing the country to spend more than $2 billion in imports. “I always had an interest in farming, I remember writing in our high school’s yearbook under feature ambition that I wanted to be a farmer,” he says.

With a total annual capacity to produce more than 5,000 metric tonnes, he founded FaLGates, a rice mill producing a variety of rice products. They employ 30 people in Kaduna and over 150 people at their anchored farms in Niger and Kebbi. They turned over about $450,000 in 2017.

Falalu holds a degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Management from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. He also holds an MSc Degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Nottingham.

 

8. Roger Boniface, 29, South Africa 

Founder: EDISIM

Boniface is the founder of EDISIM, a training provider that uses simulation to bring real-world learning experiences to the classroom. In less than three years, he has integrated the business simulations into some of Africa’s top business schools. He lectures at Wits and GIBS in South Africa and Strathmore Business School in Nairobi.

“I spend my weekends at different flea markets around Johannesburg and Pretoria and there is no better way to learn about business. My first counterfeit note experience happened at a flea market. I got paid for something I sold with a counterfeit R100 ($8) note,” says Boniface, also the founder of Artson, an events company that hosts art and wine tasting experiences to explore and develop the creativity that people often lose throughout the conveyor belt of life. He also runs JCB, a small textile wholesaler concentrating on the promotional market and mainly focusing on t-shirts, golf shirts and caps. While this business has been successful for over 30 years, Boniface has been running it since 2015. He turns over about R13 million ($1 million) a year.

 

9. Gilbert Eugene Peters, 29, Zimbabwe

Founder: Spidex Media

This story started like many successful entrepreneurship stories. Peters would buy and sell satellite dishes to his community in Harare. Through word of mouth, this business grew until he employed two people. Together, they installed over 2,000 satellite dishes. All this before he was 19 years old. The demand waned and Peters went into formal employment as a graphic designer.

At 21, armed with $300, he registered Spidex Media with the hope of addressing the need for faster advertising and design services in 24 hours.

“I would go where I was needed to design since I had no office,  and only a laptop and business cards. I became a CEO, finance manager, marketer and salesman,” says Peters.

His girlfriend at the time, now his wife, provided her entire $160 salary from working as an ice cream shop attendant to rent office space. The investment paid off.

Today, Spidex has offices in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia. It’s one of the largest advertising companies in Zimbabwe with a majority market share in the financial sector handling brand portfolios worth over $870 million. He has won 12 business and entrepreneurship awards in Zimbabwe, a businessman of the year award at just 25 years old, and employs 55 people.

 

10. Sihle Ndlela, 28, South Africa

Co-Founder: Majozi Bros Construction

This construction company started from humble beginnings and went on to become one of the leading construction companies in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Ndlela co-founded the company with Simphiwe Majozi. The two met on a cold call, formed a friendship and went into business together.

“We both had a string of businesses from primary school right through to high school, ranging from selling sweets, loan sharking, throwing parties and selling hot dogs on street corners,” he says.

The two saw a gap in the township construction market.

“We decided to become a turnkey building contracting business offering services from plan drawing, plan submission, general building and renovations. So we became a one-stop construction business,” says Ndlela.

The business grew quickly and their clients now range from malls to residential estates. They also bought 51% of a 35-year-old tool hire business called Hire which has three branches in KZN. They were awarded a $105 million project alongside WBHO as a partner.

Before joining Majozi, Ndlela had been running a successful glass and aluminium business. Together, the duo went on to take the construction industry by storm.

 

11. Vere Shaba, 29, South Africa

Founder: Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions

This 29-year-old has been the one to watch since 2010, when she was a part of the winning team for the international design competition on Peace and Environmental Studies by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.

“In 2008, while still a student, I did my mechanical engineering practical training at the Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage and watched as the rolling blackouts and load shedding affected their productivity. When the power went off, the machines would come off and thousands of workers would sit outside in the sun,” says Shaba.

She became an entrepreneur out of frustration.

“The frustration came when I kept on being put in a box. Having graduated as a mechanical engineer, I was either seen as a green building consultant or a mechanical engineer but never both.”

She resigned from her job in 2016 and founded a company that uses the Integrated Green Design approach in engineering. Now, Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions is a multi-disciplinary consulting firm specializing in engineering, green buildings and interiors services.

Shaba was selected as one of 10 Top Women in Engineering for the annual Standard Bank Topco Top 100 Women in Business & Government, Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans for Environment, the Kingdom of Netherlands’ Inspiring 50 Women in South Africa in STEM, and most recently, has been selected as a finalist for the inaugural Gauteng Premier’s Women Excellence Awards for Young Achievers.

“I still sit in boardrooms as a minority in the boardroom, as the sector is still quite white male dominated, but I know that every day I am in the boardroom is changing mind-sets and creating a platform for the future generations,” she says.

 

12. Thomas Duncan, 28, Namibia

Owner: Anticor

Anticor is a water treatment and chemical specialist company based in Windhoek specializing in products for the agricultural, commercial, domestic and industrial markets. Duncan inherited Anticor from his late father when he was 24 years old. The business was stagnant and loss-making. In just four years, he turned it around into a profitable business. The company employs 11 people. He also owns Analytical Laboratory Services, Namibia’s largest privately accredited and owned laboratory which has three analytical sections, for water quality, microbiology and food chemistry and soil. It employs 15 people.

 

13. Wesley Beneke, 29, South Africa

Founder: WCB Construction

Beneke grew up in an entrepreneurial family. His mother taught him that running a business was possible as she was an entrepreneur herself.

“I face hardships every single day as I am a black man playing in the ‘white rich man’ space. The system is built to exclude us and in most cases, my firm and I are constantly found to be precluded from what is so easily achievable by white monopoly. I have had various large clients not pay me and in so doing, completely wipe out my cash flow. However, my family and staff have stuck by me in those times and made the mountains feel like hills,” says Beneke.

He employs 40 permanent staff, has in excess of 150 contract staff and has deals worth over $12 million. He counts the Western Cape government and the South African Roads Agency among his clients.

 

14. Anita Adetola Adetoye, 26, Nigeria

Founder: Anita Brows Beauty

Adetoye, popularly known as ‘Anita Brows’, is an Irish-Nigerian professional makeup artist, beauty educator, and entrepreneur. She is also the founder of Anita Brows Beauty based in Lagos. With over seven years of experience, she has single-handedly built an award-winning brand, creating jobs for young Nigerians.

“My move to Nigeria was the defining moment for me in the beauty industry. It was the moment my hobby became a livelihood and then became a business. I didn’t choose this path by faith, this path chose me. My goal is to change the face of makeup and beauty artistry,” she says.

She is sought-after worldwide. Over the years, she has featured and liaised with the founder of international brand ‘Iman Cosmetics’, and worked with numerous celebrities across the globe. She has also been recognized in Uganda as the best makeup artist in West Africa and won the Future Awards Prize for beauty. Adetoye employs 13 people and has several sold-out makeup classes in Europe, the US and East Africa. This year, Anita Brows will launch a cosmetic range.

 

15. Akinwande Durojaye, 28, Nigeria

Founder: JustBrandIt

While at Covenant University, Durojaye saw the need for a printing and branding business. He started doing business as an intermediary between the students’ association and the print world. In 2014, he used this experience to start JustBrandIt, a printing, branding and advertising agency competing with larger companies in Nigeria.

The astute Information and Communications Engineering graduate is also the founder of FixMyRide, a fleet management company which manages different taxi hailing platforms like Uber, Taxify and Oga Taxi. It also houses an auto workshop for vehicle repairs, maintenance and servicing. The name FixMyRide was inspired by MTV’s Pimp My Ride show where vehicles get transformed and upgraded. He employs 13 full-time staff and about 210 contracted drivers. Combined, the companies turn over $1.2 million each year.

He is also the co-founder of FueledUp, a technology-driven company where customers request for fuel and cooking gas delivery via an app. He is also the co-founder of LashBells Food Company, a local snacks production and packaging company.

 

16. Samuelle Dimairho, 27, Zimbabwe

Co-founder: Chengetedzai Depository Company Limited

Dimairho co-founded Chengetedzai Depository Company Limited, Zimbabwe’s first central securities depository for the capital markets with securities’ deposits that have peaked at over $7 billion and trade settlement now in excess of $2 billion. The company had $1.5 million in revenue last year.

He is also the founder of Aura Group, a management consulting, technology and business process outsourcing services company expected to turn over $2 million this year.

Dimairho was featured in the Junior Achievement Worldwide, 2011/2012 Africa Annual report on behalf of Zimbabwe, received the top ICT Company Web Developer of the Year 2011 award, was 1st Runner-Up in the Top ICT Company of the Year 2011 award category, and received top ICT Project of the Year 2012 (Public Sector) award. He was also crowned the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Creative Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2014 and also won the Entrepreneurs Organisation Global Student Entrepreneur Award 2014.

Dimairho voluntarily serves as an advisor to the Graduate Development Agency and Young Entrepreneurs Sanctuary Africa, an organization focused on building the soft skills of graduates and mentoring young entrepreneurs. He holds several accounting and business qualifications.

 

17. Joey Friedman, 26, South Africa

Founder: LA Group of Companies

Growing up, Friedman watched his father run a business and go bankrupt.

“It was extremely hard for me to adjust to receiving food donations… we lost our house and I was not succeeding in school. I had learning disabilities which were not discovered until I was 13. This led me to feeling like a failure and completely incompetent,” says Friedman.

With a lot of financial responsibilities, he had to start thinking of ways to make money.

Nine years ago, he started a business called BOBBLE, a bottle that filters water, then a real estate agency called FRESH REALITY. Then, in 2013, a bigger opportunity presented itself.

“I saw Lounge Around for sale and made it a priority to raise capital for this with my business partner. I finally am able to do what I love and go to work every day extremely excited,” he says.

Lounge Around, part of the LA Group of Companies, is a premium furniture hire company that services prestigious events,.

It specializes in boutique furniture rentals and supplying custom-made furniture and decor for a diverse range of events including exhibitions.

“I had watched my father run businesses my entire life and felt it was my destiny to follow in his footsteps and make a business truly work,” he says.

His company is responsible for supplying events like the Vodacom Durban July, DStv Delicious Festival and Tourism Indaba. They also worked at Winnie Mandela’s funeral and the 2014 presidential inauguration. The company has grown revenue by 1,200% in four years, employs 105 people and owns a 90,000sqm warehouse.

 

18. Zuko Tisani, 25, South Africa

Founder: Legazy Technology Conferencing

Legazy is a company that supports startups in South Africa in their quest to disrupt. They partner with the world’s best to up-skill, invest in and collaborate with South African startups.

Tisani founded the company in 2016 when he saw the dire need for investment, training and market access for the embryonic startup ecosystem of South Africa.

“The statistics released by ANDE on the 86% failure rate of startup businesses within the first 18 months of starting showed there was a limitation on resources, information and access,” says Tisani.

Legazy raised $1 million to host the Web Summit technology conference in South Africa.

“We at Legazy believed the South African startup community needed the community of early-stage investors; the world’s most disruptive tech startups and thought leaders on emerging disruption to be hosted in country for our startup community to gain investment, create partnerships and become as competitive as the largest technology companies out there such as your Ubers and Facebook.”

 

19. Gisela van Houcke, 27, DRC

Founder: Zuri Luxury Hair&Beauty

Houcke was born in Eastern DRC but was forced to flee the country and move to the United Kingdom at a young age due to the DRC’s political and economic instability.

She moved back to the DRC to contribute to the growth of her motherland. While working as the head of legal at BBOXX ltd in Kigali, she founded Zuri as a hobby in 2015 when she struggled to find quality hair extensions. When she sold extensions worth $50,000 in a few months, she turned the hobby into a business.

“My vision was to build a global platform and brand, which would bring together leading hair and cosmetic products, expertise, technology and a community of passionate customers,” she says.

Zuri Luxury Hair&Beauty is a hair extensions brand. Their extensions are made with 100% human Remy. Their products include lace wigs, extension bundles, closures and lace frontals.

By end 2016, she had sold hair worth over $100,000 across the DRC and Rwanda online.

That year, she also raised $75,000 of equity financing to set up a holding company in Hong Kong, launched a supply chain office in Guangzhou with three employees and opened her first store in Kinshasa. Last year, she introduced a line of lipstick and hair accessories.

Zuri is growing fast and claiming a share of Africa’s big hair industry.

 

20. Bidemi Zakariyau, 28, Nigeria

Founder: LSF|PR

Growing up, Zakariyau watched her father build a taxi service and real estate company from nothing. She worked for him during holidays where she acquired skills in project management, sales and communications. Her father convinced her to study law. She interned in law firms for a few months but left to follow her passion in media.

She founded LSF|PR which started as a fashion PR agency.

“Securing my first client was very difficult because I had no public relations experience; I would visit different blogs in Nigeria and look for contact numbers in the article credits and call the designers requesting to work with them for free,” says Zakariyau.

When the door finally opened, she charged very little and worked hard. Client satisfaction led to referrals and new clients.

Six months after law school, she saw opportunities to scale and diversify her client portfolio to include corporate, consumer and lifestyle brands. She rented an office and started hiring workers. Today, the agency’s clientele consists of local and international brands including Philips, Rémy Cointreau, Godrej, William Grant and Sons, Brown-Forman, ARM, AfriOne, Ventures Platform. She employs eight women and runs an online magazine.

 

21. Zareef Minty, 24, South Africa

Founder: ZRF Holidings

Minty began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 15 when he started his own clothing brand, Self Made Billionaires. At the time, the market had brands like AMA Kip Kip as one of the only prominent South African t-shirt brands. He saw a gap where brands were not necessarily using the concept of influencers and celebrities to grow.

“I got Kenny Kunene and Lee-Ann Liebenberg to wear my brand. Kenny even wore my clothing in the promo of his second season of So What on ETV. Through these celebrities, I got media hype where a lot of newspapers covered my clothing brand and with that, it brought a lot of corporate work,” he says.

Today, ZRF Holdings houses a PR company, a clothing company and a law firm. He was in the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 List, released a book, is a lawyer, motivational speaker and a radio host.

“I am most impressed by Zareef’s ability to conceptualize problems, organize his thoughts, identify important data and facts, and present a balanced argument… he consistently displayed sound judgement, ethics, and leadership… he has the ability to innovate,” writes advocate Barry Roux, in a letter of recommendation for Minty. You may remember Roux serving as the defence advocate in the Oscar Pistorius trial.

 

22. Fred Apaloo, 28, Ghana

Founder: Villa Grace

This hospitality management graduate moved back home after studying in the US to make a difference. For about two months, when he returned to Ghana, he cooked and nicely plated all his meals.

“The motive behind that was really to send photos to my friends in the US, to show them that Ghana wasn’t what they thought it was. A lot of them pitied me for choosing to move back,” he says.

Apaloo’s interest in creating awareness through social media grew when he realized the photos were attracting a positive reaction. He then started a brunch series called ‘Brunch Friends’. These were weekend brunch sessions at his house, where he cooked brunch for his closest friends and family and they discussed issues faced by the young. They encouraged him to expand these sessions. In 2015, he founded Villa Grace, a boutique dining company that hosts intimate pop-up brunches which have quickly become some of Accra’s most exclusive and unique dining experiences, selling out tables weeks in advance.

 

23. Kene Rapu, 28, Nigeria

Founder: Kene Rapu

Through her first product line, ‘Slippers by Kene’, launched in 2011, Rapu became an entreprenuer who promotes the growth of Nigerian industry by using locally-sourced materials to make slippers and sandals. She says running a business is hard work, even more so in Nigeria.

“The odds are against us, as more businesses are expected to fail than to succeed. From lack of adequate power supply, to sufficient skilled man power, to the costs and scarcity of materials, the list goes on,” she says, adding that it’s harder for women.

“I remember on my hunt for property for my factory last year, I met a gentleman who made it extremely clear he would not, under any circumstances, rent his property out to women.”

Rapu holds a law degree from the University of Bristol and a Master’s in Fashion Entrepreneurship from the London College of Fashion. In 2016, she was selected by the Tony Elumelu Foundation as one of 1,000 African entrepreneurs whose idea could change Africa, and in 2017, was listed as one of 100 Most Influential Women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa.

 

24. Jack Mthembu, 27, South Africa

Founder: First One Adventures

Mthembu started buying and selling in grade three. Instead of giving him money, his grandmother would give him packets of sweets to sell. In high school, he sold ice cream to friends and neighbors in the blazing hot township of Namakgale in Limpopo. He would also organize fun runs on his street and charge people to participate.

His journey continued and in 2014, while in his second year at university, he participated in a business idea competition hosted by the North West University Business Development Centre. He won it and used the prize money as capital. He bought a camera and set up a business in photography, corporate branding and graphic design.

The same year, he was a runnerup for the Nedbank Sustainable Entrepreneurship competition, joined the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurs and got a mentor to assist him. “I had my fair share of disappointment having to live seven months on my friend’s couch in 2016, while in the meanwhile turning down jobs on every angle. Because I had this burning passion to get my business off the ground and needed all the time in the world. I also had the fear of being consumed by corporate; amongst job offers I had to turn down was ABSA, Stanlib and Liberty,” he says.

After a few months, his corporate branding company collapsed but he had a lifeline. He had also founded First One Adventures, a highly-profitable organization aimed at developing high school learners through life coaching and personal skills development camps. The core focus of the organization is raising young people to be independent thinkers. He also offers accounting services to small businesses.

 

25. Reabetswe Ngwane, 25, South Africa

Co-Founder: KreamFields

Ngwane’s entrepreneurial journey began when she started her first business with a friend. They recycled plastic bags, turning them into school bags with solar lanterns, and provided them to kids in underprivileged areas. Unfortunately, that partnership did not last. She then started yet another business with her sister. This time, they recycled tyre tubes to make fashionable bags. The bags cost anything between R500 ($40) to R1,400 ($111). She also makes first-aid kit bags, respiratory bags or masks and seat protectors for the mining and construction industries.

 

26. Anelisa Mntuyedwa, 28, South Africa

Founder: Gilbert Civils

Growing up in the rural village of Chalumna in the Eastern Cape Province, Mntuyedwa had quite an interesting upbringing. She remembers chasing cattle and helping her parents plough corn fields over the weekend.

From about age 10, she says she had a dream very different from her peers. She wanted to be an entrepreneur with a business listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, when all her friends wanted to be lawyers and doctors. She was inspired by her father and mother who had jobs but always had a business on the side.

After completing her BSc Honours in Soil Science in 2013, her parents gave her R500 ($40) as a congratulatory gift. She used it to set up Gilbert Civils, a construction company in the Eastern Cape. Her services have been used by the likes of Buffalo City and DNA Structures.

 

27.Gozie Coker, 29, Nigeria

Founder: Coker Creative

Coker is the ultimate planner.

“Planning events is something I have always done, so much so that growing up, I was nicknamed ‘the organ’, short for organizer. I derived joy planning all my family and friends’ celebrations, from vacations to birthdays, and even anniversaries,” she says.

She spent her holidays interning for event companies. Soon after graduating from Baylor University, with a degree in marketing, she interned with Kennedy Creative, a full-service event management company in Austin, Texas. A year later, she went on to pursue a master’s in Strategic Management from the Cass Business School in London.

“I used my graduation thesis to test my business plan for what we now know as Coker Creative.”

A boutique event company, since its launch almost four years ago, it has executed events for private and corporate clients in Nigeria and internationally. Its clients include Etisalat, Zippy, Redrick Public Relations, Access and Bella Naija.

 

28. Alexander Knieps, 27, South Africa

Founder: Printulu

This budding entrepreneur comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Printulu sells commercial print products such as flyers and business cards online to South African SMEs. The company has served over 5,000 clients to date.

It hasn’t always been an easy journey for the German-born entrepreneur. When starting Printulu, an investor promised him one million dollars in funding. Unfortunately, according to Knieps, the conditions of the contract were so unfavourable he couldn’t sign the contract.

“At that time, the development of the website, self-funded, was almost done and I was already hiring a team to go live. I decided I am going to do this – no matter what – with investors or without. This was one of the most difficult times in my life: very little money, no support system in South Africa and numerous business hurdles,” he says.

His success is proof it’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.

 

29. Adam Amoussou, 27, Benin

Founder: AMOSCONSULT GROUP

Amoussou grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. He says he always felt the pressure to succeed.

“You have a standard to keep up to and in Benin, they say ‘a man who hasn’t done more than his father has done nothing, he is a complete failure’, so I grew up picturing myself taking over the family business and taking it to the next level,” he says.

His journey to entrepreneurship began in 2012 while in university.

“I had the highest marks in statistics so a couple of friends came to my place on weekends looking for assistance and I helped, but the following weekend they came accompanied by other classmates,” he says.

In 2012, he started charging them for tutoring sessions. A few months later, he and his girlfriend at the time, now fiancé, launched an online clothing shop, which is growing in retail. In May 2014, they opened street restaurants selling Kotas. The business died because of competition. In 2015, he sold his car to start AMOSCONSULT GROUP, a company supplying tropical fruits to the international market.

“I noticed the infinite potential of our Benin agriculture. So I went on and did research and found out Benin could supply one of the highest quality of tropical fruits and products and they were in high demand. I had the vision that soon my country will reach food self-sufficiency, be among the fastest-growing economies in Africa and be the vegetable garden where other African countries and the rest of the world buy good quality food and products at a very competitive price,” says Amoussou.

The company supplies fruits and produce such as cashew nuts, pineapples, palm oil and nuts, coconuts, shea butter and cotton. To meet the demand, they partner with farmers, provide them with information about the quality of fruits and produce in high demand, purchase these from them and sell internationally. The business has expanded into Togo and plans to open a branch in South Africa this year.

 

30. Nataliey Bitature, 28, Uganda

Co-Founder: Musana Carts

Bitature was raised by entrepreneurs. She grew up running around building sites, cleaning shop floors and counting stock in the evenings. When she was on track to study investment banking, she volunteered at a school in rural Ibanda and realized there was another need for business.

“Entrepreneurship provided for my family and for the first time I saw that it was something I took for granted. The teenage girls in the class I taught had very simple and unambitious dreams and it broke my heart. I knew I had to get into business that changed lives, improved communities and gave other Ugandan girls the opportunities I had had,” she says.

She fundraised $60,000 for building two classrooms and an IT lab for the girls.

She later co-founded Musana Carts. These are solar-powered street vending carts designed for micro-entrepreneurs in Uganda. They are modular, made for the customization of business features including fridges, sockets and mobile money terminals. Musana Carts equip its vendors with finance and business training and offers a path to legalization for those trapped in the informal sector.

Bitature was named a World Economic Forum Top Woman Innovator in 2016 and was invited to present at the World Bank headquarters for the Spring Meetings 2017. She also previously founded two service businesses in Kampala: Tateru Properties and Handymen Uganda.

“I believe because of the family I come from I’ve had the unique opportunity to be exposed to people and institutions that can help my causes. When I was preparing to pitch Musana Carts to President Clinton and a panel of esteemed judges in New York, I got to pitch to the Prime Minister of Uganda…,” she says.

 

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30 under 30

Making Of The 2019 Forbes Africa #30Under30 Cover

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This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future.

#30Under30: Business Category 2019
#30Under30: Creatives Category 2019
#30Under30: Technology Category 2019
#30Under30: Sport Category 2019
  • Words: Karen Mwendera    
  • Edited by: Unathi Shologu
  •  Assistant: Garreth Mtuwa  
  • Creative direction by: Lucy Nkosi  
  • Lead photography by: Motlabana Monnakgotla
  • Co-photography by: Gypseenia Lion   

Judges of the 30 Under 30 class of 2019

The category experts whose role it was to survey all finalists of the 2019 30 Under 30 list, rank them and provide commentary on each candidate:

  • Business: Anthea Gardner, Founder and Managing Partner at Cartesian Capital
  • Technology: Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at University of Johannesburg; he also deputises President Cyril Ramaphosa on the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Creatives: Yasmin Furmie, creative and business partner of fashion brand SiSi The Collection, South Africa
  • Sport: Nick Said, the Africa sports correspondent for Thomson Reuters
  • Audit partner: SNG Grant Thornton

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30 under 30

Forbes Africa #30Under30 list: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport

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THE FORBES AFRICA 30 UNDER 30 LIST IS THE most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we bring you 120 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 and for the first time, four categories featuring 30 in each: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

From elevator manufacturing, solar energy design, to under-30s conquering the Alps and selling out the Apollo Theatre,  this year’s list demonstrates how enterprising and extraordinary the African youth is.

This list celebrates these pioneers who are building brands, creating jobs, and innovating, leading, transforming and contributing to new industries, in turn, changing the continent. 

“The future belongs to Africa and the future belongs to its youth,” says Jason Pau, Chief of Staff for International to billionaire Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba. He says the journey for young entrepreneurs, especially in Africa, is not always easy. Many startups fall by the wayside due to a lack of resources. In South Africa, it is estimated that the small enterprise failure rate is at almost 80% within the first three years.

Chances at success are very slim, yet Africans continue to see opportunity where many do not. The select few celebrated in this list represent those individuals who continue to persevere against the odds. It also serves as a reminder that it is possible.

“People don’t really give enough time or spend enough time in providing the right environment for entrepreneurs to grow,” Pau tells FORBES AFRICA.

So if entrepreneurship is the answer, ensuring that an environment is conducive for business sustainability is imperative.

Together with our audit partner for this list, SNG Grant Thornton, the senior editorial team worked night and day scrutinizing each candidate. For entrepreneurs, we delved into how profitable their businesses were and if they showed signs of potential growth and sustainability.

However, not only does the list look at the financial impact of each candidate, but also their reputation, resilience and ability to be role models to other young Africans.

For FORBES AFRICA, this meant endless background checks, fact-checks, emails, phone calls and research, sifting through over 1,000 nominations that poured in over the last few months. Lastly, the one factor that also played a role in the determination of the candidates was their online presence. Followers are a valuable new currency, and today’s achievers have found a way to leverage off them. This year, when FORBES named Kylie Jenner the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, it observed that her business was built mainly because of her social media and fan following. Many on our list have also been able to build on this in their own way. The creatives and sport stars lead in this regard.

This year, Sport is the newest category, opening up the list to the game-changers who are also Africa’s next generation of leaders. They have won awards, broken records, made social investments and pushed the boundaries by challenging the status quo on policies in sports. However, some of the challenges they still face include lack of resources, a gender pay gap, and an immense pool of untapped talent not yet given a chance to be in the limelight.

But no matter where they are from, these 120 list-makers share one common goal, and that is to build a better Africa.

Being an under-30 myself, I am proud to have curated the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2019. At the time of going to press, all facts on the following pages were verified to be correct.

The list is in no particular order:


This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future.

#30Under30: Business Category 2019
#30Under30: Creatives Category 2019
#30Under30: Technology Category 2019
#30Under30: Sport Category 2019
  • Words: Karen Mwendera    
  • Edited by: Unathi Shologu
  •  Assistant: Garreth Mtuwa  
  • Creative direction by: Lucy Nkosi  
  • Lead photography by: Motlabana Monnakgotla
  • Co-photography by: Gypseenia Lion   

Judges of the 30 Under 30 class of 2019

The category experts whose role it was to survey all finalists of the 2019 30 Under 30 list, rank them and provide commentary on each candidate:

  • Business: Anthea Gardner, Founder and Managing Partner at Cartesian Capital
  • Technology: Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at University of Johannesburg; he also deputises President Cyril Ramaphosa on the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Creatives: Yasmin Furmie, creative and business partner of fashion brand SiSi The Collection, South Africa
  • Sport: Nick Said, the Africa sports correspondent for Thomson Reuters
  • Audit partner: SNG Grant Thornton

Continue Reading

30 under 30

#30Under30: Sport Category 2019

Published

on

This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future.


The list is in no particular order:

Clarence Munyai, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

1. Clarence Munyai, 21, South Africa

Track and Field Athlete

Clarence Munyai is right on track to becoming one of the world’s greatest athletes as he shatters more records.

Munyai is the third-fastest all-time junior in the 100 meters-race.

He currently holds the South African record of 19.69 in the 200 meters right under Usain Bolt who holds the record for 19:19.

Munyai also holds the Junior World Record of the 300 meters.

“I have been blessed with a talent to run fast and become a professional athlete, and am thankful every day for the opportunity to pursue my dreams and make a better life for myself and my family,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

He made his mark in the 200 meters World Junior ranking in 2017 and 13th in the 200 meters world senior ranking the same year.

Last year, he smashed the 200 meters record in a time of 19.69 seconds, making him the 10th fastest in the world ever, as he knocked off Wayde van Niekerk’s mark of 19.84.

Munyai is one of the youngest South African Olympians of all time and has always remained modest on and off the track.

Kim Collins, 2003 world champion in the 100 meters, once told Munyai to ‘always stay humble’ as he was.

Despite his global achievements, he says there is no better feeling than wearing the country’s green and gold colors.

“My immediate plans are to win gold at the World Championships in Doha later this year, and then, of course, focus on Tokyo 2020. Apart from that, I know there is life after athletics and so am looking into various business opportunities,” he says.

Jean Sseninde, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

2.Jean Sseninde, 26, Uganda

Footballer and CEO

Jean Sseninde is one to watch on and off the pitch.

When she was eight years old, she began playing football with her brother in her home in Kasangati village in Uganda. That experience got the ball rolling.

She currently plays for the Ugandan national team.

Internationally, she plays for Queens Park Rangers W.F.C in the FA Women’s National League South in England, making her the first Ugandan female to sign with the team. Sseninde also previously played for the AFC Phoenix Women’s Football Club and the Charlton Athletic Women’s Football Club.

Although she enjoys an international career in football, her biggest highlight remains playing for her national team.

In 2016, the Uganda women’s National football team qualified to play in the semi-finals of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) Women Championships against Burundi.

“The only goal that was scored was from my assist,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

Sseninde is the founder and CEO of the Sseninde Women’s Development Cup and the founder of the Jean Sseninde Foundation, which sponsors the annual Jean Sseninde Women Football Development Tournament, aimed at discovering and mentoring female soccer talent in Uganda.

Sseninde is also the first African and sole female player from the continent to join the Common Goal initiative an organization whose members pledge to give away at least 1% of their annual salary to charity.

Last year, she scooped an award for her philanthropic work at the Best Of Africa Awards event at the Rosewood in London.

Mohamed Salah, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

3. Mohamed Salah, 27, Egypt

Footballer

On June 1, 2019, the world watched as Liverpool made history, beating Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League final as Egyptian-born Mohamed Salah led the team to victory.

Salah scored the first goal of the match and in the end, the team had a 2-0 victory. Dressed in the team’s shirt, red as his blood, and with curly locks, Salah raised the trophy with pride in celebration while immersed in a sea of red on the pitch.

He was this year’s only footballer on the list of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential that called him “one of the best football players in the world”.

The iconic figure started his professional career nine years ago playing for the Egyptian Premier League.

Thereafter, his career went international when he played for Basel, a team in Switzerland and then Chelsea.

In 2017, he then signed with Liverpool at a club-record fee of £36.9 million ($46.6 million).

He has since won numerous awards and accolades such as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. His next goal is to conquer the next season of the Premier League.

He is currently sponsored by Adidas and has appeared on Adidas commercials alongside David Beckham, Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba, and singer Pharrell Williams.

With a total of 148 goals scored in his professional clubs’ career, Salah is a name that will definitely go down in history books. He is one of the highest-earning sport stars in the world.

Wayde van Niekerk, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

4. Wayde van Niekerk, 26, South Africa

Track and Field Athlete

The man currently holding the world and Olympic record in the 400 metres was born in a small town in Kraaifontein, in Cape Town.

As a child, Wayde van Niekerk dreamed of being the fastest man in the world and he is evidence that dreams do, in fact, come true. The world took notice of him when he won gold at the World Championships in 2016.

Since then, he has shown no signs of slowing down.

He came first in the 2016 Olympic Games in the 400 meters in Rio de Janeiro, and again in the 2017 World Championships in London.

However, due to a knee injury, Van Niekerk was unable to participate in any games last year and he is still on his road to recovery.

After the long and painful wait, he returns to the track and is set to compete in the IAAF World Championships in Doha in September, alongside many other world stars. Usain Bolt, world record holder in the 100 metres and now Van Niekerk’s good friend, told FORBES AFRICA, when he visited South Africa this year, about what advice he gave the South African athlete.

“I always tell Wayde, ‘it is good to be fast and to be great, but if you want to build your brand you have to show your personality’. People will want you to be a part of their brand’,” Bolt said.

After news that he had temporarily withdrawn from athletics due to his injury, he showed love to his fans by tweeting that he was determined to race again. Many look forward to his return this month and, perhaps, more records to be broken.

“The race itself is a blank experience, I only remember the end. All stresses disappear right there. It’s about me giving my everything and leaving it all there on the track,” he told FORBES AFRICA after his 2016 win.

Chad le Clos, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

5. Chad le Clos, 27, South Africa

Swimmer

“Seas the day”, are words multiple Olympic medallist Chad le Clos lives by.

His claim to fame is being an Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games swimming champion.

He is also the record holder in the 50-meter and 100-meter butterfly.

Born in Durban, South Africa, Le Clos began swimming competitively from the age of 10.

By the time he was 20, he beat his hero, Michael Phelps, by 0.05 seconds at the London 2012 Summer Olympics in the men’s 200 meters butterfly, and the world stood still.

Phelps had held that record and the arrival of a young South African caused a huge splash.

History was made and Le Clos continues to do so today.

On top of the many accolades, last year, he was named FINA Male Swimmer of the Year 2018.

He is currently doing plenty of swimming drills in preparation for Tokyo 2020.

The proud South African swimmer goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a wave.

Genzebe Dibaba, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

6. Genzebe Dibaba, 28, Ethiopia

Track and Field Athlete

Genzebe Dibaba is a woman always gunning for gold.

With 10 gold medals already to her name, she continues to run the distance and surpass many alongside her. She currently holds five world records; for the indoor and outdoor 1,500 meters, the indoor 300 meters, the indoor 500 meters and the indoor mile.

This makes her one of the best female track mile runners in history. The last two gold medals she won for Ethiopia were at the 2018 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham for the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters.

The 28-year-old’s talents, however, run in the family. She has three siblings who are also gold and silver medal athlete winners.

The Ethiopian world record holder continues to run for her life as she remains unbeaten in the 1,500 meters since the European Championships in Berlin in 2015.

Since then, she has received a number of accolades, including the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year in 2015, and IAAF Athlete of the Year 2015.

Jacob Kiplimo, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

7. Jacob Kiplimo, 18, Uganda

Track and field athlete

Jacob Kiplimo can run for miles. At only 18, Kiplimo is a World Cross Country silver medallist.

He grew up in Bukwo on Mount Elgon in Uganda.

Making his debut internationally, he did what many 15-year-olds could only dream of.

He won the 10,000 meters bronze medal at the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships.

His achievements put him in the running to be selected as part of Uganda’s Olympic team, making him one of the country’s youngest Olympians.

In 2017, he came first at the World Cross Country Championships in the junior men’s race.

Even when playing among the seniors, Kiplimo is still a top athlete.

This year, he was second at the World Cross Country Championships in Denmark.

According to the IAAF, he currently ranks fourth in the world for the men’s 10,000 meters.

As he continues to make a run for the top spot, he shows no signs of letting the dust settle.

Watch this space for more.

Sara Ahmed, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

8. Sara Ahmed, 21, Egypt

Weightlifter

Sara Ahmed is living proof that women can do absolutely anything and be great at it.

At only 21, she is the first Egyptian woman to receive an Olympic weightlifting medal.

Once, she had to miss her high school exams to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Through the sacrifice, she has a great support system lifting her every step of the way.

Ahmed’s passion for weightlifting comes from her father and older brother who were national competitors in weightlifting.

Among some of her accolades are nine international gold medals, including two golds won at the 2012 Junior African Championships and Youth African Championships.

Her most recent gold medal was last year at the World Junior Championships for 71kg.

Luvo Manyonga, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

9. Luvo Manyonga, 28, South Africa

Track and Field Athlete

Luvo Manyonga did not grow up with much but he had plenty to look forward to. When he started doing long jump in school, he fell in love with it instantly.

“Ever since, I wanted to break the world record,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

And in 2017, he did just that, becoming the world champion as well as holding the first place in the world rankings.

The same year, he won South African Sportsperson of the Year and South African Sports Star of the Year. His goals this year are to defend the world championship title in Doha, break the nine-meter barrier and defend the Diamond League title.

“There is always life after sport and I am looking at various business opportunities because I know that it’s so important for an athlete to plan for post-career while still competing,” he says.

Giana Lofty, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

10. Giana Lofty, 24, Egypt

Martial Arts practitioner

Giana Lofty started practising karate when she was only six years old.

Now, she practises it internationally, representing her country.

Lofty is the current world title-holder and the 2014 continental title-holder, making the 24-year-old a certified two-time champion.

She won gold last year at the 2018 African Karate Championships in Kigali.

This year, she won silver at the Karate1 Premier League in Rabat, Morocco.

In an interview with Olympic Channel, she said, “I encourage girls to start practising karate or any martial arts for self-defence”.

She is one of over 1.5 million Egyptians doing so and one of the very few women dominating it. “Girls are not allowed to practise any kind of sport, not only karate. So, sometimes they say that what I’m doing is something useless which is against our beliefs. But I don’t think that, so I don’t care what they say,” she said.

It was a milestone for Lofty when in 2013, women were allowed to fight wearing a hijab, allowing her to do what she loves while still staying true to who she is.

Beatrice Chepkoech, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

11. Beatrice Chepkoech, 24, Kenya

Track and Field Athlete

She’s fast, tall and currently holds the world record for the 3,000 meters steeplechase, and her name is Beatrice Chepkoech.

After clocking a running time of 8:44.32 in 2018, the Kenyan became the first woman to break 8:50 and 8:45.

Her career started in 2014 as a road runner. She later switched to track and field in 2015, making that one of the best decisions she ever made.

Among some of the medals she bagged are the two gold medals she received last year; one at the 2018 Ostrava IAAF Continental Cup and the other at the 2018 Asaba Nigeria African Championships.

She is ahead of the pack and shows no signs of looking back.

Patricia Apolot, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

12. Patricia Apolot, 28, Uganda

Kickboxer

Patricia Apolot is not one to mess with. She once punched a fraudster and he landed in a drain.

With agility, grace and the heart of a lioness, Apolot’s fighting spirit has seen her winning world titles and putting Uganda on the map through kickboxing. Also known as the ‘Black Pearl’, Apolot started her career in 2014.

She grew up in Ngora, Uganda; her family was barely able to afford three meals a day or give her clothes to wear.

Enduring a disadvantaged life, there was only one thing on her mind as a child, to be ‘the world’s best’ and that’s exactly who she’s become, in her chosen field.

She is currently the reigning Ugandan female kickboxing champion and holds the International Kickboxing Federation title for lightweight.

She earned her title after beating Ivana Mirkov of Serbia in Dunaújváros, Hungary, in 2015.

This made her the first female Ugandan kickboxer to win this title.

She still holds the title and has been defending it for three years now, making her undoubtedly the queen of kickboxing.

Apolot shares her skills and talent training youngsters in kickboxing in her hometown in Uganda.

“I want to believe that a world or a sport without boundaries is a country or a sport well-spoken,” she says.

Caster Semenya, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

13. Caster Semenya, 28, South Africa

Track and field athlete

Caster Semenya is the name of the 800 meters queen dominating headlines in the sporting world.

She has won over 15 international gold medals and the South African golden girl has no intentions of stopping any time soon.

In a recent controversy (where the IAAF wants female athletes with high testosterone levels to take testosterone blockers), the Swiss Supreme Court denied the IAAF’s request to immediately reimpose the regulation on Semenya.

This means Semenya is free to compete without restriction in the female category until the IAAF and Athletics South Africa make submissions to the Supreme Court on her request that the IAAF regulations be suspended throughout the entire appeal process.

But Semenya is not moved and she continues to hold her head high. To many, she remains a champion winning on and off the field.

In an interview with FORBES WOMAN AFRICA late last year, she said: “I like to be myself, I am true to myself. I just like myself the way I am and I don’t want anything to change in me.

“When I walk onto that track, I perform. So, when I perform, I expect people to recognize my work but not just because I am me, but for the work that I do.”

Semenya has plans to continue racing, winning more golds and flying the South African flag high.

“I don’t see myself stepping down; until I’m 40, that’s when I’ll be satisfied,” she said. Some of her accolades include awards at the South African Sport Awards; the People’s Choice Sports Star of the Year, Sports Woman Of The Year, and the Sports Star Of The Year.

She was also nominated for the 2018 Female World Athlete of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards.

You cannot put a price tag on an athlete like Semenya. She describes herself as just being  “priceless”.

Emmanuel Korir, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

14. Emmanuel Korir, 24, Kenya

Track and Field Athlete

As the sixth ranked fastest athlete in the men’s 800 meters, of all time, Emmanuel Korir keeps flying Kenya’s flag high.

According to the IAAF, last year, he won all but one of his races.

He holds the record for the fastest outdoor time of the year, winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London last year.

He clocked 1:42.05, making it the world’s fastest 800 meters performance since 2012.

He was nominated for the Male Athlete of the Year award in 2018 by the IAAF and won two gold medals at the African Championships, as well as the Continental Cup.

His current world ranking, according to the IAAF, is first place in the 800 meters.

He plans to set records at the World Championships in Doha this year.

“I can’t go and sleep even after the season ends. I have to work harder to be ready for Doha. It is a title that I long for in between now and then,” Korir told Capital Sports last year. He is also signed to Nike.

Faith Kipyegon, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

15. Faith Kipyegon, 25, Kenya

Track and field athlete

It is said that when Faith Kipyegon was a baby, she completely skipped the crawling stage and went straight to walking. She certainly has not stopped since.

Speaking to NTV Kenya, Mzee Kipyegon revealed that his daughter was extraordinary growing up.

As an adult, she is one of Kenya’s long-distance trailblazers.

Her last international race saw her winning gold and beating one of the world’s best, Caster Semenya, at the World Championships in London in 2017.

She recently returned to the track from maternity leave making her first return to action in two years, and is currently training for the next big race at the 2020 Olympics.

Kipyegon also won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics and gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

She has stood on pedestals with the world’s best, and will continue to stand tall.

Francine Niyonsaba, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

16. Francine Niyonsaba, 26, Burundi

Track and Field athlete

Francine Niyonsaba made history in 2016 when she won Burundi’s first Olympic medal in 10 years.

She won a silver medal, finishing second in the 800 meters Rio de Janeiro Olympics race.

She came second to her rival on the track and friend off the track, Caster Semenya.

Since then, she has gained speed at earning the gold medals at the 800 meters at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland, and last year, at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.

For Niyonsaba, running had always been in her blood.

When speaking to FORBES AFRICA last year, she said that the challenge women face in Burundi is that they feel they can’t achieve anything elsewhere in the world.

“In Burundi, in our culture, women believe they cannot do something special in the world, but it is just a mentality,” she said. “A woman can do everything!”

This year, Niyonsaba revealed that she would be affected by the IAAF ruling on Semenya.

In an interview with Olympic Channel, she openly discussed her hyperandrogenism and the difficulties she has faced in becoming a top-level athlete.

“For sure, I didn’t choose to be born like this, what am I?…I love myself, I will still be Francine. I will not change,” she told them.

The 26-year-old is passionate about inspiring other women in sport and putting Africa on the map.

She ranks third in the Women’s 800m in the IAAF world rankings.

Kagiso Rabada, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

17. Kagiso Rabada, 24, South Africa

Cricketer

Kagiso Rabada’s bowling style is nothing short of a visual treat as he has been known to make many seasoned cricketers feel rather googly as his balls approach them.

Last year, he became the youngest bowler to take 150 test wickets, and Wisden named him the Best Young Player In The World.

His rise to fame in the cricket world was as fast as the balls he delivers.

He had his biggest year in 2016 as he went home with six awards at Cricket South Africa’s annual dinner, including the prize for Cricketer of the Year.

He currently is a fast bowler for the Highveld Lions, a South African cricket team, as well as the national team, the Proteas.

Off the field, Rabada, known as KG, is humble and grounded.

The cricket star founded an initiative called Inspire and Ignite under his foundation, the Kagiso Rabada Foundation. It was reported that early this year he sponsored 2,500 youth under the age of 25 with sports equipment to advance their talent and skills.

It’s best not to take your eyes off him.

Ruhan van Rooyen, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

18. Ruhan van Rooyen, 24, South Africa

Paralympic track and Field Athlete

Ruhan van Rooyen was born with cerebral palsy in his lower left arm and foot.

But that has not stopped him from representing his country internationally in track and field.

Van Rooyen is a Paralympics athlete from the Western Cape in South Africa specializing in the 100 meters and 200 meters T37.

He made his debut in 2013 when he was named Junior Athlete of the Year by the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

One of his biggest achievements was being selected to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London, England.

He ranked sixth in the World Championships at the 200 meters T37 and 100 meters T37, while locally, he ranked second in both events.

Next on his agenda is to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

When he isn’t on the track, he doubles up as a YouTuber, enjoys cycling and is also pursuing a career as a chartered accountant.

His coach said in one of his YouTube videos that “Ruhan is a very dedicated athlete”.

“I really believe Ruhan has what it takes to, not only be top three in the world, but to be the best in his events which is the 100 and 200 meter sprints,” he said.

Sadio Mane, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

19. Sadio Mane, 27, Senegal

Footballer

Sadio Mané comes from Bambali, a village in Senegal where boys play street football until sunset with red earth clinging on to their clothes.

Now, Mané currently captains the Senegal National Team and is a winger for Premier League club Liverpool.

He started his career at a Senegalese football academy, then made his international debut for Metz, a French football team in 2012. He played for FC Red Bull Salzburg and Southampton before moving on to Liverpool in 2016 for a fee of £34 million ($43 million), making him the most expensive African player in history, at that time.

Last year, he scored a hat-trick for the club and overtook fellow countryman Demba Ba’s record of 43, to become the highest-scoring Senegalese in Premier League history.

Since then, he has become one of the top performers in the team.

He was joint recipient of the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals, and was part of the Liverpool team that won the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final.

With his impressive record in the Premier League, the Senegalese won Premier League Player of the Month in August 2017 and March 2019. He was also awarded the Premier League Golden Boot 2018 and 2019. On the continent, he has represented the Senegal national team at the 2012 Olympics, 2015 and 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking to BBC, Fodé Boucar Dahaba, the President of the Regional League, says that whenever Mané returns home, he remains humble and dressed in shorts like everyone else in the village.

Sabrina Simader, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

20. Sabrina Simader, 21, Kenya

Alpine skier

Sabrina Wanjiku Simader was born in Kilifi, a small town on the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya, unaware that one day she would be conquering winter slopes in the alpine ski world.

Today, the 21-year-old Kenyan is a world-renowned ski racer.

But she is as humble as her early days on the mountain slopes.

She learned to ski in Hansberg, a small mountain in Austria. “Even as a little girl, I was fascinated by the white sparkling snow and the wonderful feeling of riding down the slopes,” she says. With some encouragement from her step-dad, a passionate skier at one time, she decided to pursue skiing. Her biggest achievement was when she became a triple Styrian champion in the Super G, giant slalom, combination and second in the Slalom in 2012.

“He was always proud of me and took a lot of time to train and support me in all races. Unfortunately, in June 2012, he died too early. For my mum and I, things became very difficult,” she says.

Her ski coach Christian Reif, coach of the Kenya National Ski Team, took on the ropes to groom her in the winter sport.

“Sabrina is for Kenya and for the whole world an inspiration, as a real Kenyan not from an alpine nation. And she shows that nothing is impossible, and you can reach anything with intensive work, effort and discipline,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Simader represented Kenya at the Winter Youth Olympics in 2016 in Lillehammer, Norway.

She was nominated for the Sports Woman of the Year and the Youth of the Year awards in the African Women in Europe organization 2017.

She plans to conquer the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 in China and the Alpine Ski World Championships in Italy in 2021, making her the second Kenyan after Philip Boit to represent the East African nation at the Winter Games.

She founded the Kenya Ski Association to groom other young Kenyans in the sport.

Gerson Domingos, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

21. Gerson Domingos,23, Angola

Basketballer

Gerson Domingos is one of the youngest players in the Angolan national basketball team and he plays a very important position, point guard.

He was named Most Valuable Player at The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Africa U18 Championship 2014, and he is part of the new generation of Angola’s young talent.

He made his debut for the senior team in 2016 at the Belgrade FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2016. He wears Angola on his heart and hopes to go down in their history books.

In an interview with FIBA, he said: “I have always dreamed of playing against the best teams in the world, and if I am healthy, I will do everything to keep the Angolan flag flying high. We have a history of playing at big basketball events and I hope to be part of Angola’s successful history.”

Angola is ranked in the top 50 national teams according to FIBA world rankings.

Siya Kolisi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

22. Siya Kolisi, 28, South Africa

Rugby player

Siya Kolisi stands as a dream fulfilled for the South African nation when he became the first-ever black captain of the Springboks.

It was exactly a year ago when he first captained South Africa’s national rugby team, the Springboks, on home turf against England while donning the number 6 jersey, the number famously worn by Nelson Mandela at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

It was a step in the right direction, echoing Mandela’s vision which sought to unite a racially divided South Africa through rugby that year.

“Sport has the power to change the world… It has the power to inspire,” he said to the thousands.

Twenty-four years later, Kolisi has inspired many as well.

“I’ve learned that no matter where you come from, or what your background is, you can aspire to be whatever you want to be,” he said in an Instagram post.

Weighing 102kg, just shy of the average rugby player’s weight estimated to be 105.1kg, he carries the hopes of many on his shoulders.

He also captains the Stormers, a team which is part of the South African Rugby Union, and is based in the Western Cape province.

Despite his knee injury preventing him from playing, many hope for his return this month in a shortened Rugby Championship against Australia at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

This year, Kolisi was nominated for a prestigious Laureus Sports Award under the category of Sporting Moment of the Year for his role in ‘uniting the rainbow nation’.

Thembi Kgatlana, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

23. Thembi Kgatlana, 23, South Africa

Footballer

The dusty grounds of Mohlakeng, a township west of Johannesburg, is where Thembi Kgatlana honed her talents.

Yet, on some of the world’s greenest international pitches is where she won her awards.

Whenever she gets the ball, she displays sophisticated athleticism, making it difficult to take your eyes off her as she leverages speed, agility and impressive dribbling skills to get the ball behind the net.

Kgatlana is a product of South Africa’s Banyana Banyana women’s football team, and she also plays for the Beijing BG Phoenix FC in the Chinese Women’s Super League.

She also previously played for Houston Dash in Texas, US.

When speaking to FORBES WOMAN AFRICA late last year, she said her goal had always been to play abroad and make a living out of her passion.

“It’s a dream I have been working towards for the whole of my life, since I started playing as an eight-year-old, working my way through the junior national teams, then to the senior national team. It’s been a long and hard road, but I’m here now,” Kgatlana said. After representing South Africa at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, she was named Player of the Tournament and was the highest goal scorer.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

24. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 29, Gabon

Footballer

If there’s one person who loves the biggest blockbuster movie of 2018, Black Panther, it is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After scoring two goals for Arsenal against Rennes earlier this year, the footballer celebrated by wearing a Black Panther mask and did the signature pose with his two arms crossed over his chest

It was a true ‘Wakanda Forever’ moment.

When interviewed after the match by BT Sport, he said: “I needed a mask [which would] represent me so it’s Black Panther and in Gabon, we call the national team the panthers of Gabon, so it represents me.”

Loved by many back home, Aubameyang is a superhero in his own right. He has previously won African Footballer of the Year, Top Scorer and the French League Cup.

This year, he received the Golden Boot.

 The 29-year-old Gabonese professional footballer plays for the Arsenal in the Premier League and is the captain of the Gabon national team.

It seems the apple has not fallen far from the tree as, Aubameyang’s father, Pierre-François Aubameyang “Yaya”, is a retired Gabonese international and national footballer.

Aphiwe Dyantyi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

25. Aphiwe Dyantyi, 24, South Africa

Rugby player

Last year, Aphiwe Dyantyi won the Breakthrough Player Year Award at the World Rugby Awards for his outstanding performance on the field.

An emotional Dyantyi accepted his award in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

“It’s been a blessing. I have been truly blessed in so many ways and the people that I have had around me, people that have helped me in the last few years have truly been amazing,” he said as part of his acceptance speech.

Dyantyi has been described as a natural-born player and his skills on the field can attest to that.

Coming from humble beginnings, he was born in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

He plays for the South African national team, the Springboks.

He also plays for the Lions in Super Rugby, the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup and the Golden Lions XV in the Rugby Challenge.

He started his career in rugby while he was studying at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

There, he played for the UJ senior team in the Varsity Cup before moving to play in the provincial championships.

Dyantyi not only strives to make a difference for his country but also for those around him.

Percy Tau, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

26. Percy Tau, 25, South Africa

Footballer

He plays for the Union SG and Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion, and the South African national team, Bafana Bafana.

His football career started in 2013 when he played for Mamelodi Sundowns in the Premier Soccer League.

Since then, he has kicked it up a notch and has been climbing the football ladder. He made his debut with English Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion last year, signing a four-year contract.

However, Tau experienced issues obtaining a UK work permit and was loaned out to join Union SG, a Belgium football club.

The loan was a blessing in disguise for Tau as he went on to score four goals for the team in six appearances, helping the club reach the semi-finals.

He then won the Player of the Season award and was in the league’s team of the season.

Last year, he was one of South Africa’s goal scorers as the nation recorded its largest-ever victory with a 6-0 win over Seychelles in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

He won Premier Soccer League’s Player of the Season for 2017 to 2018.

But what makes this Mpumalanga-born South African one of the most talked-about footballers in the country?

When speaking to local publication Sport24, Tau expressed his love for football no matter where he plays.

“I think everyone is happy when they’re playing football, so, yeah… football is football. Regardless of where you play, if you focus on the football, then everything else becomes easier,” he said.

Quinton de Kock, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

27. Quinton de Kock, 26, South Africa

Cricketer

This Johannesburg-born 26-year-old is a wicketkeeper and batsman known for his fearless striking and handy glove work.

Early in his career, he has been compared to some of the greats in cricket like Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher.

Cricket experts have considered him to be one of the most promising young wicketkeepers of this decade.

He plays for the South African national team, the Proteas, a local team called the Titans and internationally, for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

He made his debut for the national T20 team against New Zealand in 2012, scoring 28 off 23 balls while chasing.

Since then, he has been making quite an impression in the sport.

He was named Cricketer of the Year at Cricket South Africa’s 2017 Annual Awards.

One of his other milestones is being the fastest South African to reach 1,000 ODI runs.

Alex Iwobi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

28. Alex Iwobi, 23, Nigeria

Footballer

If your uncle is award-winning Nigerian professional footballer, Jay-Jay Okocha, it is possible those good genes would place you at the top tier of the football ladder.

Alex Iwobi is blessed to live up to his uncle’s legacy.

Iwobi has been described as smooth and dangerous with the ball.

At only 23, he is skilled on the pitch and shows promise as he is one of Africa’s rising football stars.

Iwobi currently plays for Premier League club Arsenal and the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles.

He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and left his home country at the age of four.

He joined Arsenal in 2004, however, started playing with the senior team in 2015.

In that same year, he started playing for Nigeria, making his debut at the 2016 Summer Olympics when he was selected for their 35-man provisional squad.

The following year, he scored for Nigeria in a 1-0 win over Zambia.

This secured the Super Eagles a spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Speaking to BBC Sport earlier this year, he said he was proud to be related to Okocha.

“I can never get tired of people comparing us. I see my uncle as an idol, someone I have always looked up to as a footballer,” he said.

 “I still have a long way to go, maybe one day, I can be on his level or greater.”

Akani Simbine, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

29. Akani Simbine, 25, South Africa

Track and Field Athlete

Akani Simbine was born a winner.

Born in Kempton Park, South Africa, Simbine has lifted the coveted crown as the country’s fastest man.

He broke the South African record in the 100 meters with a time of 9.89 seconds in 2016, which became one of his personal bests. He further sped on to win more accolades.

His current world ranking position, according to the IAAF, is sixth on the men’s 100 meters.

Among the 10 international medals he has, five of them are gold.

Simbine has been nothing short of consistent; he remains one of South Africa’s best track and field champions. He currently has deals with Mercedes-Benz and Adidas.

Margaret Nyairera Wambui, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

30. Margaret Nyairera Wambui, 23, Kenya

Track and Field Athlete

Margaret Wambui won her first international gold medal when she was only 19, at the World Junior Championships in the US.

She went from running in a small town in Nyeri County, Kenya, to some of the world’s largest arenas.

Today, she has over four more international accolades, including a bronze medal from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

By then, she had her signature celebration style ready, placing one hand on the hip and the other in the air with a triumphant beaming smile.

Last year, she earned herself a second spot at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, receiving the silver medal, after Caster Semenya.

Like Semenya, Wambui has also been faced with questions regarding her testosterone levels.

However, according to reports, she has not been forced to undergo tests for hyperandrogenism.

Her current world ranking, according to the IAAF, in the Women’s 800 meters is 15.

At only 23, Wambui has achieved only what some of her peers dream of.

Imagine what the next seven years have in store for her. A gold medal for Kenya is closer than we think.   

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