Connect with us

30 under 30

#30Under30: Technology 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:

Nthabiseng Mosia, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

1. Nthabiseng Mosia, 28, Sierra Leone

Co-founder and CMO: Easy Solar

Nthabiseng Mosia grew up on the outskirts of the township of Alexandra in South Africa, and while attending high school, load shedding (scheduled power cuts) and electricity black outs would affect her studies.

“So when the lights went out, we lived by candlelight. The first few nights, it was fun and somewhat romantic,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

But a few months into the electricity crisis, the novelty wore off.

Mosia was frustrated while studying for her final high school exams under a dim light of a wick, not knowing at the time that this frustration would be the catalyst that drove her to start Easy Solar.

If load shedding was affecting her to this extent, then how much more for millions of Africans who do not have daily electricity?

Mosia made it her personal mission to fix this problem.

While studying Global Energy Policy and Finance at Columbia University in 2015, she started Easy Solar, along with her co-founders Eric Silverman and Alexandre Tourre.

They founded the business in Sierra Leone, where almost 90% of people did not have electricity at the time.

They introduced an entry-level solar product into their business model in an attempt to really target low-income customers.

Today, Easy Solar supplies, installs and services all variety of solar systems.

They also sell solar PV panels, PV mounting structures, solar charge controllers, solar inverters, lead-acid and Li-Ion batteries.

Easy Solar has also expanded to Liberia, and plans to expand into Guinea in the next few years.

Evans Akanno, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

2. Evans Akanno, 29, Nigeria

Founder and CEO: Cregital

With N600,000 ($1,600), Evans Akanno founded Cregital, a creative and digital platform, in 2015.

The company designs and builds websites and platforms for African startups and corporates.

“Running a startup in Nigeria with a lean budget, especially in our economy, requires a lot of courage,” he says.

This is because some of the challenges they face include the high cost of power and the liability of the internet in Nigeria.

However, Akanno says in starting the company, he had to make sure it was bootstrapped from the beginning especially when building the team as he says they hired “attitude over skill”.

Over the years, he has won numerous awards including the 2018 Nigeria Technology Awards as the Tech Young Achiever of the Year and the 2016 Future Awards Africa Prize for Creative Professional.

Last year, he founded another tech platform, called Farmkart, which enables people to bank in agriculture by investing in fish farming. In the same year, he also launched Acts of Random Kindness, Cregital’s CSR initiative to give back to the community.

Michael Paul Mollel, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

3. Michael Paul Mollel, 29, Tanzania

Co-founder and Executive Chairman: Jimz Technologies Co. Ltd

Michael Paul Mollel is taking a college startup to the world.

He started providing IT support when he was only 15 years old.

He would sell IT equipment such as dongles and flash drives to students and professors.

In 2015, while attending university, the IT enthusiast sought to solve an existing gap at his institution.

“While pursuing an MBA, I kept noticing that both students and professors had problems with their laptops [and] had no where they could rely to have their laptops attended and fixed,” he says.

That’s when Jimz Technologies Co. Ltd was born.

Initially, they only had enough money to pay for the first month’s rent, including a chair and table.

A year later, clients started filing in and the contracts for IT support grew.

Now, their reach is global and they also provide IT support services for international companies such as Tetra Tech and Winrock International.

“It is possible for an African college startup to go miles; even the sky is not the limit anymore. Our team has grown from two to 10; and our sales have almost quadrupled in 2018,” he says.

Next year, Mollel says they plan to open an office in Kigali; part of his plan in taking his college startup everywhere.

Nureshka Viranna, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

4. Nureshka Viranna, 27, South Africa

Co-founder and Director: ShopLi

Nureshka Viranna grew up in Durban in South Africa and comes from a family of academics.

Despite being encouraged to pursue a similar route, Viranna’s passion was in marketing, technology and innovation.

So she quit her teaching job in 2015 to follow her dreams.

She co-founded an e-commerce company called ShopLi and broke every norm, becoming the first entrepreneur in her family.

“It was the best decision and financial investment I made,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

ShopLi is an e-commerce company that designs and develops online stores and catalogues for businesses that can’t afford high rentals or to pay salaries.

“They now had the ability to sell to anyone in the world and operate 24/7,” she says.

She currently employs a team of five.

At the end of last year, she was asked by a friend to assist her son with learning Afrikaans, but she couldn’t find any online resources to help.

This led her to found another business in 2019 called Lit Academy.

She created an online course focusing on video and study guides to help learners improve their marks.

“Lit Academy has given us the opportunity to make quality education available to learners, at a fraction of the cost of tuition. Our aim is to disrupt the education system in South Africa,” she says.

Viranna describes herself as an innovator, disruptor and entrepreneur and aims to become a leading woman in the e-commerce and digital space.

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

5. Jacob Rugano, 29, Kenya

Co-founder and director: AfricarTrack International

Jacob Rugano founded a company called AfricarTrack International after developing a mobile-controlled road-accident control system that uses a mobile phone to reduce accidents on the road.

It all started when one of his cousins was involved in an accident.

“The accident was caused by a lorry driver who was driving while drunk and over-speeding. Several members of his family died in the accident,” he says.

This gave Rugano the impetus to start a tech company as a solution to help curb road accidents and in 2014, AfricarTrack International was born.

A programmed chip is installed inside the car which acts as a liaison between the car’s computer and the reporting and control system.

The system then collects data on whether the driver had been driving drunk, driving carelessly, as well as the location of the vehicle if hijacked.

“The sensor also automatically controls the car in case it is about to get involved in an accident, reducing the chances of an accident by over 48.67%,” he says.

 The company has won numerous awards including the Changemaker Of The Year at the  2016 African Achievers Awards in Sandton, South Africa.

He was also listed among the 2016 Top 40 Under 40 Men in Kenya by Business Daily.

Rugano is passionate about increasing the number of  African tech leaders and currently mentors a group of 150 every Sunday.

He plans to expand to South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and install the technology in at least two million vehicles in Kenya.

Fred Oyetayo, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

6. Fred Oyetayo, 25, Nigeria

Founder and CEO: Fresible

Seven years ago, Fred Oyetayo created a digital agency from his university dorm room, unaware that one day it would erupt into a multi-million naira business. Oyetayo is a trained lawyer but enjoyed the digital space more.

Fresible, his enterprise, provides services such as website development, software development, digital marketing and events management.

Oyetayo says the company has trained over 60 individuals in entrepreneurship, digital marketing and web/app development.

Some of their present and past clients include Afe Babalola University, the Federal High Court Nigeria, Dangote Group and First Bank of Nigeria.

In August 2018, the company launched Dlaw.ng (formerly law repository), a web application that uses artificial intelligence to provide legal services to small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria.

Oyetayo plans on his company being one of the largest tech companies in the world.

Alpha Nury, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

7. Alpha Nury, 29, Senegal

Founder and CEO: Jamaa Funding

Alpha Nury left his career in finance, working with global companies, Chanel, Apple and L’Oréal to start his own business aimed at financing others.

With €10,000 ($548,617) in savings, Nury launched Jamaa Funding in 2015.

The business is a crowdfunding site aimed at humanitarian and solidarity-based projects using time and money to fund projects all over the world.

To date, they have had numerous successfully-funded projects such as the creation of a farming school, overcoming sickle cell disease, green turtle protection, funding a football team and building a new school.

Nury’s platform has had successful campaigns with 24,102 supported people in Africa, 150 supported people in Asia, and 40 in America.

“Joy is the feeling that we felt the first time a project was funded on the platform and it is a feeling that we continue to have with the same intensity every time. Seeing dreams come true is our reason to exist as a company,” Nury tells FORBES AFRICA.

“By 2020, we hope to have impacted 500,000 people via our platform.”

Some of his biggest milestones have been collaborating with the World Bank and the African Union. Tropics Magazine shortlisted him as one of theMost Influential People in Business in 2018, alongside Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.

Hansley Noruthun, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

8. Hansley Noruthun, 27, Mauritius

Founder: Mauritius Space and Science Foundation

Hansley Noruthun was born and raised in the village of Triolet in Mauritius, where being a part of the space industry was just a dream.

Now, it has become his reality.

Noruthun is the founder of the Mauritius Space and Science Foundation (MSSF), a community in Mauritius for space, aeronautics and science professionals, students and enthusiasts.

They tackle local and regional issues, using space applications and technologies in areas such as agribusiness, maritime, climate change, earth observation, health and engagement of youth and women in the sector.

It all started when he received a full scholarship by the UK Space Agency and European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications to complete the Space Studies Program 2015 hosted by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in US.

The following year, he received the Space Generation Leadership Award  by the Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications and elected the National Point of Contact (NPoC) for Mauritius.

This gave him the exposure to further develop MSSF.

He recruited a team of 18 from other African countries, and together, they managed to secure a proposal to host the African Space Generation Workshop series in Mauritius.

“The foundation also managed to connect over 25% of the national general public reaching over 300,000 out of the 1.3 million population,” Noruthun says.

Noruthun’s future plans are stratospheric.

“We will be starting with our exclusive National Space Tour, that will be running globally. This is a new project part of the agenda for the foundation that will be launched this year,” he says.

Schizzo Thomson, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

9. Schizzo Thomson, 29, Malawi

Founder and Managing Director: Sky Energy

Power failure in Malawi is a prominent issue.

But the lightbulb came on for a young Malawian electrical engineer from the city of Blantyre.

Schizzo Thomson left the company he was working with in Ireland, returned to Malawi, and registered his business in 2015.

Sky Energy designs, supplies and installs solar energy and power backup systems.

“I have always said that I never started my business with any money but I started with an idea,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

One of his biggest projects was designing and installing a 40KW solar power system at Mulanje Mission Hospital.

Thompson currently employs 32. They have since expanded to Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Wilford Mwanza, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

10. Wilford Mwanza, 29, Zimbabwe

Founder and CEO: FordOlutions

Wilford Mwanza once attempted to build a power station to increase the efficiency of the national electricity utility in Zimbabwe.

He initiated and drafted a roadmap for the establishment of a smart grid in Zimbabwe, with assistance from the management at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).

This spark of electricity resulted in the creation of Mwanza’s company, FordOlutions. It provides simplified practical training on the applications of robotics using NXT Lego robots for SMEs, private businesses, and government organizations in Zimbabwe.

“To date, we have trained over 1,000 participants, done data analytics which assisted our clients to have better insights in decision making, inspired high schools kids to dream brighter of a future with robotics,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

The 29-year-old electrical engineer has big plans for Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We believe we are tapping a very green opportunity and have the privilege of directing how the narrative will go in Africa with regard to robotics and automation,” he says.

Last year, he was one of 60 Global Shapers at the World Economic Forum on Africa.

At the 2017 Enactus World Cup in London, he won the Enactus World Wide Global Alumni of the Year, where he was representing  Zimbabwe.

Vena Arielle Ahouansou, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

11. Vena Arielle Ahouansou, 25, Benin

Co-founder and CEO: KEA Medicals

In 2016, Vèna Arielle Ahouansou was part of a delivery team that successfully delivered two babies. But, unfortunately, the delivery caused a haemorrhage in the mother and a blood transfusion was needed immediately.

It took the doctors 10 minutes to find her blood type as the mother was fighting for her life.

Sadly, it was 10 minutes took long. The mother died that night.

It was a sad and unfortunate loss for Ahouansou and her team.

Since then, she vowed to find a solution to improve healthcare in Africa.

That solution was KEA Medicals, established in 2016.

It is a digital platform that connects health structures through a single database, the Universal Medical Identity (IMU), to facilitate the feedback of the medical history of patients.

As a patient, your medical record can be accessed from anywhere and at any time.

Today, they have over 1,700 health professionals linked on the platform.

They currently employ a team of 15, mixed with tech engineers, medical doctors, communications and laws specialists.

“My vision is to ensure an easy and equitable access to healthcare for people around the world by breaking down barriers to access to healthcare for them,” Ahouansou tells FORBES AFRICA.

In the next four years, she plans to connect 500 million Africans to one million medical doctors.

Ahouansou is also a Techstars accelerator program alumni, GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator program and Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme fellow.

Damilola Olokesusi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

12. Damilola Olokesusi, 29, Nigeria

Co-founder and CEO: Shuttlers Logistics Company

With 40% of all cars in Nigeria registered in Lagos, commuting can be stressful.

Fortunately, Damilola Olokesusi has come up with an innovative way to move with ease in the city.

Her business, Shuttlers Logistics Company, uses web and mobile app technology to enable users to book trips along fixed routes at 60%-80% less than ride-hailing services.

You can book a seat, make payments and track updates of your transportation in real-time in a car shared with other professionals and with free wi-fi services.

Olokesusi and her co-founder used their savings to start the business after her sister was robbed by armed men disguised as public bus drivers, on her way to work.

“These horrific experiences created a need for me to create a solution that my colleagues, friends, family and I could use,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

As the business grew, they received grants from the World Bank, Airtel and Sahara Energy, all of which allowed them to go from one to 22 routes in Lagos.

“One of my biggest highlights within the business [was] meeting with President [Muhammadu] Buhari and Vice-President [Yemi] Osinbajo at a private meeting… where I had the opportunity of explaining what we do at Shuttlers.

“[The] same day, I pitched in front of Mark Zuckerberg, the best part was him mentioning Shuttlers in one of his Facebook posts,” she shares.

Among the awards she has won, she was one of the winners of Women In Africa for the Digital and Technology Award 2017. She is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

She powers on.

Diana Esther Wangari, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

13. Diana Esther Wangari, 27, Kenya

Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer: Sagitarix

Diana Esther Wangari was a bright-eyed medical student who had dreams of specializing in neurosurgery.

But instead, when she was introduced to the realities of the health care system in Kenya, her dreams changed.

“I was overwhelmed by a sense of waste and lost opportunities. It always seemed to me that we could be doing so much better,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

As a result, she ventured into health communication and entrepreneurship to bridge the gap between the health system and doctors, policy-makers and patients.

In 2016, she co-founded Sagitarix, a digital platform that facilitates the direct distribution of drugs to those most in need, with a focus on patients with chronic diseases.

The company launched an app called iSikCure which allows patients to place orders for drugs.

The medicine is then delivered on the same day.

They also introduced a subsidiary company, Checkups Medical Centres, a low-cost rapid diagnostics medical clinic which uses technology.

Last year, they were able to distribute medical supplies worth over $200,000.

They currently have five clinics, four in rural areas and one in an urban area.

Wangari says they plan to open up four more urban clinics by June 2020.

Her organization has won the Get In The Ring Contest 2018 in Hague, Netherlands.

They were also finalists at the SBC AfriTech 2018 in Paris, France.

Chinedu Azodoh, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

14. Chinedu Azodoh, 29, Nigeria

Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer: Metro Africa Xpress (MAX)

“You need to have been trapped in Lagos traffic to truly understand the strong sentiments it evokes in Lagosians and visitors alike,” Chinedu Azodoh tells FORBES AFRICA, leading to the essence of his business.

Metro Africa Xpress (MAX) is a bike-hailing service that allows passenger or packages to move around Lagos conveniently at the tap of a button.

Azodoh and his co-founder, Adetayo Bamiro, came up with the idea of MAX as part of an assignment while studying at MIT Sloan School, in Massachusetts in the US.

They then returned to Lagos and started the business in 2014 with five staff members and three riders in 2014.

“We were both involved in every part of the business, which is to say that we rode the motorcycles, and made deliveries,” Adozoh says.

Today, they have 70 employees and over 1,000 bike riders.

To date, the company has won numerous awards and has been featured by CNN, Business Day and Techstars.

In 2017, they were also one of the 20 top African startups selected for the World Bank Group’s digital acceleration program.

They were also announced as one of the Business Day’s Top 100 Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria.

Shoriwa Shaun Benjamin, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

15. Shoriwa Shaun Benjamin, 29, Zimbabwe

Co-founder: Simba Solutions

At the age of 16, Shaun Benjamin taught himself computer programming and it was not long before he mastered the trade.

Today, he is the co-founder and head software developer of Simba Solutions, formerly known as N-Sho Technologies.

The company provides business ICT solutions such as mobile apps, websites and systems, cloud servers and video production.

Benjamin started the company in 2008 with his brother when they lived in Cape Town.

Soon after, they relocated to their home country when the Zimbabwean market was embracing mobile app technology.

“This proved to be a stepping-stone to bigger and more diverse technology projects,” says Benjamin.

Their biggest highlight, to date, was developing a mobile app and web portal for the UNESCO ICT Essentials for Teachers program to equip rural teachers with the essential skills to teach IT.

They have since created opportunities for 15 small enterprises, supported six families and carried out 20 community initiatives.

At the 2018 Agricultural Show, he programmed an advanced virtual reality platform for the Zimbabwe Power Company.

“It is those noble and genuine reactions across members of all ages, from your five-year-olds to your octogenarians, that are priceless, those assurances that your technology is not only impacting an inanimate corporate person, but real people with real lives,” he says.

He plans to create a global brand and is looking at setting up an internship program for young people interested in tech.

Karidas Tshintsholo, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

16. Karidas Tshintsholo, 24, and Matthew Piper, 25, South Africa

Founders: Khula App

When Karidas Tshintsholo and Matthew Piper moved to Johannesburg to start a business, they slept on the floor for six months, could not afford a bed, or afford to pay rent and electricity.

But they still got up every day, put on suits and tried their best to make it work.

In the end, it was worth it.

The duo now spend their lives as award-winning entrepreneurs, traveling abroad and staying in five-star hotels.

After founding their first business, they made their first million at 23.

However, it was their second business that developed their knack for entrepreneurship.

The duo are reaping what they sowed through their agri-tech business called Khula.

It is a platform that connects producers to customers who are looking for locally-grown fresh produce.

It also helps them make deliveries; and provides a platform for farmers to get mentorship.

Last year, they won the MTN App Of The Year and were ranked one of the world’s top 10 social ventures through The Chivas Venture.

In the next five to 10 years, they plan to scale the business throughout the SADC, Brazil and India.

Courtney Bentley, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

17. Courtney Bentley 29, South Africa

Co-founder and CEO: Vizibiliti Insight

With just R10 ($0.69) and no formal business experience, Courtney Bentley started his first business,  ZA Support, providing Apple product solutions to individuals, SMEs and Mac Pro clients in South Africa.

However, when he tried to apply for credit for the business, he was denied it because he did not have a  credit score.

As a result, he sought to find a solution for this problem he shared with millions of South Africans.

“I was so naïve when I first started out. I did not have money to go to university, and I had no financial background so, I really didn’t know anything about the financial system or how it worked,” he says.

His objective was to build a system that could build track-records for individuals and businesses which didn’t require them to incur debt, and his fintech company Vizibiliti Insight sprung from this challenge. In 2016, Bentley co-founded the business as an alternative credit scoring business, using artificial intelligence for the financial services industry, without an individual having to incur debt to prove that they are not a credit risk.

They assess data from individuals, the credit bureau, transactional data, financial analytics and macroeconomic data sets..

The business has analyzed more than R12 billion ($807 million) in loans contracts and has alternative credit intelligence on over 21 million South African consumers and businesses.

“Our goal, in the next 18 months, is to be the number of one most accurate alternative credit scoring platform in South Africa,” he says.

In 2017, the company won the Mercedes-Benz Predictive Manufacturing Award and last year, they were nominated for the CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards Innovator of the Year Award.

Josh Okpata and Tochukwu Mbanugo member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

18. Josh Okpata, 27 and Tochukwu Mbanugo, 29, Nigeria

Founders: Eazyhire

In 2016, Josh Okpata and Tochukwu Mbanugo thought it would be the end of their business.

While they were in their incubator phase, someone had stolen their business idea and replicated it online.

Their business Eazyhire, a digital peer-to-peer sharing platform that enables individuals and businesses rent items, was gaining a bad reputation.

“He created an unregistered company called Easyhire. Our tagline was ‘Hire, Lease, Rent,’ while his was ‘Rent, Lease, Hire’. Our domain was Eazy hire with a ‘Z’, his was ‘Easyhire’ with an ‘S’. Even the color coding was replicated,” recalls Mbanugo.

They received an overwhelming amount of  backlash from the media and prospective clients.

But that did not deter them.

It took a massive PR campaign and hard work to win back the hearts of Nigerians.

Eventually, they succeeded and were awarded Nigerian Technology Start-up of 2016 by the Nigerian Internet Registration Association. Together, they have grown the business from less than $2,000 in 2015 to an estimated $4 million today. 

“We have processed over 60,000 transactions and are projected to get to 100,000 by the end of 2019,” Mbanugo says. They currently have 24 full-time employees in two African countries and 22 contract staff in three countries, including Spain.

Some of their biggest clients include Dangote Group, Siemens, Google and Intel.

Muhammad Salisu Abdullahi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

19. Muhammad Salisu Abdullahi, 28, Nigeria

Co-founder and Managing Director: eTrash2Cash

Muhammad Salisu Abdullahi is a young Nigerian turning waste into wealth.

He co-founded eTrash2Cash in 2016, a social enterprise business, in northern Nigeria, using technology to exchange e-waste for money.

Using the website, mobile app and SMS platform, low-income communities can earn money in exchange for their everyday waste.

The waste is then sorted, processed and recycled into products such as organic compost from food wastes, raw material pellets from plastic wastes, and tissue paper from paper waste.

Since inception, they have created 27 social micro-entrepreneurs, collected 106,222kg of waste, recycled 99,348km of waste and paid N5,575,273 ($15,487) in incentives.

They have since partnered with Microsoft, Co-Creation Hub Nigeria and more.

eTrash2Cash is currently self-sustainable and 50% of the profits are re-invested back into the business.

“[Our goal is] to make eTrash2Cash an enviro-fintech African brand, which helps people at the bottom of the pyramid to monetize all trash they generate and redeem instant cash to improve their lives,” Abdullahi says.

He plans to reach 100,000 low-income earners by 2025.

Abdullahi is a Mandela Washington Fellow and an alumnus of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program.

Silas Adekunle, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

20. Silas Adekunle, 26, Nigeria

CEO and Co-Founder: Reach Robotics

Silas Adekunle was only a young boy from Nigeria when he dreamed of contributing to the world of modern robotics.

In 2010, he took his first step towards his dream. He went on to study robotics at the University of the West of England.

“I had visions of Transformers in real life, [but] the reality was quite different. I couldn’t find robots that were functioning [the way] I, and indeed most kids, imagined they should. So, I set out to make one,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Five years ago, he made his first prototype.

It was the MekaMon, the world’s first augmentative reality gaming robot.

Together with his co-founders Chris Beck and John Rees, they spent years building the business and developing the MekaMon technology.

In 2017, they launched the world’s first AR gaming robot and secured $7.5 million in investments.

The same year, they launched with Apple in the UK and the US.

This year, they plan to expose MekaMon to advanced students and allow the technology to be used for study and research at university and postgraduate level. Adekunle plans to enable young Africans to achieve their STEM objectives. 

He has begun executing a robotics and engineering pilot program in Nigeria and plans to expand it to other African countries.

“All of us at Reach believe that leading from entertainment is the key to creating the next generation of STEM pioneers,” he says.

Joshua Chibueze, Somto Ifezue, and Odunayo Eweniyi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

21. Joshua Chibueze, 26, Somto Ifezue, 28, and Odunayo Eweniyi, 26, Nigeria

Founders: PiggyVest

Joshua Chibueze, Somto Ifezue and Odunayo Eweniyi can happily say they have helped Nigerians save $15 million.

The former university mates, at Covenant University in Nigeria, previously co-founded pushcv.com in 2014, a digital job site in Africa with a database of pre-screened candidates.

But that was not all.

Two years later, they founded PiggyVest (formerly piggybank.ng), unaware that it would one day become a million-dollar company.

PiggyVest is a financial technology platform for online savings and investing, helping the youth improve their saving culture.

“PiggyVest was born out of the need to help people create a sustainable means of saving,” Eweniyi tells FORBES AFRICA.

The business has won a number of awards, including the Future Awards Africa Prize In Technology 2018, the Business Day Top 100 SMEs, and the 2017 Village Capital Fintech.

Eweniyi has been recognized as the SME Entrepreneur of the Year at Wealth and Society West Africa for 2019.

Uka Eje, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

22. Uka Eje, 29, Nigeria

Co-founder and CEO: Thrive Agric

Uka Eje used to sell KFC and catfish pepper soup in schools. He even went on to run a food e-commerce site. But these initiatives failed.

However, all those challenges culminated in him becoming the business leader he is today, as the CEO of Thrive Agric, selected as one of the most promising companies of the year at the Africa CEO Forum last year.

Thrive Agric is an agricultural technology-enabled company that works with smallholder farmers in Nigeria to give them access to finance.

They have been able to fund over 15,000 farmers across Nigeria.

They have a permanent staff of 96 and 14 ad-hoc staff.

One of their biggest achievements to date was being selected to participate in the Google Developers Launchpad Space.

As for Eje, he was part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) 2018.

He is also a Mandela Washington Fellow.

“Our vision is to build an Africa that feeds the world and itself, and to get this done, we plan to have boarded close to five million farmers in the next seven years,” he says.

Melissa Mwale, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

23. Melissa Mwale, 29, Zimbabwe

Founder: Hive Incorporation, and co-founder: CryptoGem

Melissa Mwale is the founder of three organizations, two of them operating in the technology space.

In 2016, Mwale was looking for a professional job while selling second-hand clothes out of the boot of her car.

 Tragedy struck.

“The death of my eldest brother when he was only 33 years old gave me a rude awakening. I began to search for my purpose. After deep introspection, I realized I was strongly passionate about Africa,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

The entrepreneur at heart wanted to find something that would not only change her family, but change the lives of Africans, especially women.

As a result, she started Hive Incorporation, an online fashion store.

She sold her car and laptop and used the money to start the business. The sacrifices paid off because as a result of business success, she was able to buy two brand new ones.

The platform has a secure online shopping service with multiple payment methods to choose from such as Debit Visa Cards, Zimswitch, electronic funds transfer, PayPal, EcoCash, Wallet One, Zipit, Bitcoin and cash on delivery.

Her love for digital and e-commerce led her to co-found CryptoGem Global.

It is a peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange that allows cryptocurrency traders to trade for e-monies or local monies.

She was invited by Afrobytes, an African tech marketplace, to share her journey in the e-commerce and blockchain industry in Paris the same year.

“Sharing the African story with international investors made my dream more tangible. I believe in creating solutions for Africa that work for Africa instead of duplicating the West,” she says.

“In the midst of the difficulties currently being faced by my country, Zimbabwe, I still dare to hope, I still believe in solutions that will help everyone at large,” Mwale adds.

One of her goals is to mentor other women in business and create opportunities that might create 100 female millionaire entrepreneurs in Africa by 2030, through an organization she founded called Messe Foundation.

Eric Muli, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

24. Eric Muli, 27, Kenya

Founder and CEO: Odyssey Capital

At only 27, Eric Muli’s company has been listed by the London Stock Exchange Group as one of the companies to inspire Africa.

But his company isn’t the only inspiring thing.

After finishing high school, Muli received a scholarship to attend Babson College in Wellesley in the US and this was where his journey as an entrepreneur began.

He started his first venture, a marketing company called Jossle, while studying.

At the time, Odyssey were recognized by Business Insider as one of the best college startups, along with Uber and Microsoft.

Muli ran the company successfully but something was amiss.

“On graduating in 2014, I had a burning desire to return home and begin building a company that would impact the communities I was raised in,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

The following year, he launched Odyssey Capital, a non-deposit-taking financial institution which provides financial products and services to individuals and businesses in the lower to middle income bracket in Kenya.

With a strict policy of 50/50 male-to-female hiring policy, they have since built a team of over 90 employees, 500 sales agents and built partnerships with Samsung, Huawei, TECNO Mobile, Walmart and Airtel.

This year, Muli is expanding into Uganda and Tanzania.

“We are building an African entity and not just a local entity,” he says.

Eric Rutayisire, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

26. Eric Rutayisire, 28, Rwanda

Founder and CEO: Charis UAS

Eric Rutayisire was born in Kinshasa, Congo, to Rwandan parents who had fled the country due to the political instability and persecution against the Tutsis at the time.

In 2010, he had the opportunity to study at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the US.

That’s where he fell in love with what would form the business he runs today.

With the $1,000 he invested from his savings, he bought drone parts and built one.

“The building was successful and as I started flying, I saw a great opportunity for business not in the US but in my home country of Rwanda,” he says.

Rutayisire set out to do so and his business, Charis UAS, was born in 2014.

The company provides rapid and high-quality aerial imagery to various industries to support intelligent decision-making.

But it wasn’t easy.

“Many were sceptical about a young African building such technology and many told me it was going to fail. Many times, we were chased out of offices because people thought that we were just kids playing around,” he says.

To prove the value of the technology, Rutayisire worked an entire year free in 2015 and the demand started pouring in.

Now, he employs 16 full-time staff and has opened new offices in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

One of the projects the company worked on was to use drones to fight malaria.

Last year, the company was voted one of the Companies to Inspire Africa by the London Stock Exchange Group.

Rutayisire plans to expand the business into 15 countries and reach 15 million farmers through his company’s services.

Wissal Farsal and Khalid Machchate, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

27. Wissal Farsal, 27, and Khalid Machchate, 26, Morocco

Founders: K&W Technologies

Wissal Farsal and Khalid Machchate are a duo passionate about technology.

Three years ago, the two founded K&W Technologies International.

It’s a digital solutions firm specializing in software and hardware innovative products in a secure and data-driven process.

They design brands, develop solutions and scale strategies, from machine-learning to analytics, digital marketing and protective cybersecurity solutions.

“We created our first product, Skill Learn, that earned us 5,000 active users in its first four months,” they tell FORBES AFRICA.

In 2017, they were awarded by DEMO Africa as Entrepreneur of the Year and Africa Lion for designing their second product called SOS Santé which is a software and hardware solution used to detect road accidents, and alert the closest emergency service.

Today, they have raised a seed funding round to industrialize SOS Santé and deliver their first batch in Morocco to CACF Insurance and Siemens.

 They were also accepted into the Silicon Valley’s acceleration program.

Their goal is to create innovative solutions with social impact for Africa.

Tyrone Adams and Siyabonga Thomas Tiwana, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

27. Tyrone Adams, 28,  and Siyabonga Thomas Tiwana, 29, South Africa

Founders: Skywalk Innovations

Having met in their third year at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, this duo founded a business out of their shared passion for technology and entrepreneurship.

While Tyrone Adams was working on a project digitizing bookings for a personal trainer, he brought Siyabonga Thomas Tiwana on board to assist, and together they made magic.

They launched the product and it was a success.

Skywalk Innovations is a tech hub and software engineering firm focused on digital transformation to solve business problems, unlock new potential revenue models or drive down inefficiencies in business processes.

They assist businesses to develop mobile applications, in innovative research, and digital transformation and software integrations.

“We wanted to become Africa’s technology partner,” says Adams.

And so, they set out to do just that. Their clients were local and international, ranging from different industries such as government, agriculture, finance and education.

Their current team of nine is made up of engineers, business analysts and user interface/user experience experts, a majority of whom are also Cape Peninsula University of Technology alumni.

“Our goal is to be the biggest software engineering company in Africa. We are aiming towards a turnover of over R100 million ($6.7 million) in five years and to be listed in a stock exchange,” says Tiwana.

Chika Madubuko, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

28. Chika Madubuko, 27, Nigeria

Co-founder and CEO: Greymate Care

When Chika Madubuko’s grandmother was bedridden due to diabetes, her family found it difficult to care for her.

“We were all busy and couldn’t provide her with the care she deserved. Hiring a caregiver for her was so complicated. Sometimes, miles were traveled in futility to interview one caregiver, and we often ended up with a poorly-trained caregiver,” she recalls.

As a result, she decided to create a business as a solution to this problem.

Greymate Care is a digital platform that connects patients to an insured and professional caregiver 24/7.

Madubuko launched the business with $4,500 in Abuja in 2016.

Her team has since grown to a staff of 20.

She plans to expand into other African countries such as Kenya and South Africa.

Among her accolades, Madubuko was a finalist for the She Leads Africa Accelerator 2017.

She also received an award for Social Innovation by Women in Africa Philanthropy Entrepreneurs Club Programme.

Dorcas Owinoh, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

29. Dorcas Owinoh, 28, Kenya

Co-founder and Director: LakeHub

Dorcas Owino was born in Kibera, one of the informal settlements in Kenya.

Now, she works at improving technology access to girls from similar backgrounds.

She co-founded LakeHub with her team at university. It is a technology and social innovation hub in Kisumu that supports a community of creatives, programmers, hackers, designers and entrepreneurs; a majority of whom are girls aged between 13 and 19 years old.

One of their biggest successes was in 2017 when a group of girls from LakeHub were the only team picked to represent Africa at the 2017 Technovation Challenge, sponsored by Google, Verizon and the United Nations in Silicon Valley, US.

“I feel strongly that as women, we have to own our careers and destinies, because no one else is going to be as invested in your success as you will be. Also, it is imperative that women find both mentors and sponsors who can help them guide and navigate the landmines along the way,” Owinoh says.

Some of her company’s partners are Siemens Stiftung, Pluralsight, Hivos, and Segal Family Foundation.

Last year, she was a runner-up at the Queens Young Leaders awards.

Ndabenhle Ngulube, Matthew Smith, and Marnus van Heerden, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

30. Ndabenhle Ngulube, 28, Matthew Smith, 26, and Marnus van Heerden, 29, South Africa

Founders: Pineapple App

With a snap on your mobile phone, you can now insure anything under a minute thanks to this trio.

Marnus van Heerden, Matthew Smith and Ndabenhle Ngulube founded the Pineapple app in 2017.

It is a peer-to-peer, decentralized digital form of fast insurance for absolutely anything except vehicles and houses.

Hannover-Re, one of the largest reinsurance groups in the world, ran a global competition to select a team that would come up with an idea to disrupt the insurance space.

Van Heerden, Smith and Ngulube were the lucky ones to represent Johannesburg and were incubated for six months with salaries and the Pineapple app was born.

“Laden with paper intensive on-boarding procedures, and hidden behind a veil of complexity, the insurance industry has become somewhat of a landmark for innovation,” they tell FORBES AFRICA.

The next year, they secured R5.2 million ($359,412) in seed investment from Lireas Holdings.

Since then, they have built a community of 13,000 users.

In 2018, at the Lireas conference, they received a certificate of excellence as the Most Innovative Company and won the MTN business award for the Best Consumer Solution.

This year, they plan to expand their services to insure vehicles at the snap of a picture and they plan to expand to the US as well.

Their plan is to become the go-to insurance product for the “sharing economy”.

30 under 30

Nominations Open for FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2020

Published

on

FORBES AFRICA is on the hunt for Africans under the age of 30, who are building brands, creating jobs and transforming the continent, to join our Under 30 community for 2020.


JOHANNESBURG, 07 January 2020: Attention entrepreneurs, creatives, sport stars and technology geeks — the 2020 FORBES AFRICA Under 30 nominations are now officially open.

The FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list is the most-anticipated list of game-changers on the continent and this year, we are on the hunt for 30 of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 spanning these categories: Business, Technology, Creatives and Sport.

Each year, FORBES AFRICA looks for resilient self-starters, innovators, entrepreneurs and disruptors who have the acumen to stay the course in their chosen field, come what may.

Past honorees include Sho Madjozi, Bruce Diale, Karabo Poppy, Kwesta, Nomzamo Mbatha, Burna Boy, Nthabiseng Mosia, Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, Henrich Akomolafe, Davido, Yemi Alade, Vere Shaba, Nasty C and WizKid.

What’s different this year is that we have whittled down the list to just 30 finalists, making the competition stiff and the vetting process even more rigorous. 

Says FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil: “The start of a new decade means the unraveling of fresh talent on the African continent. I can’t wait to see the potential billionaires who will land up on our desks. Our coveted sixth annual Under 30 list will herald some of the decade’s biggest names in business and life.”

If you think you have what it takes to be on this year’s list or know an entrepreneur, creative, technology entrepreneur or sports star under 30 with a proven track-record on the continent – introduce them to FORBES AFRICA by applying or submitting your nomination.

NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS CRITERIA:

Business and Technology categories

  1. Must be an entrepreneur/founder aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Should have a legitimate REGISTERED business on the continent
  3. Business/businesses should be two years or older
  4. Nominees must have risked own money and have a social impact
  5. Must be profit generating
  6. Must employ people in Africa
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Sports category

  1. Must be a sports person aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be representing an African team
  3. Should have a proven track record of no less than two years
  4. Should be making significant earnings
  5. Should have some endorsement deals
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Creatives category

  1. Must be a creative aged 29 or younger on 31 March 2020
  2. Must be from or based in Africa
  3. Should be making significant earnings
  4. Should have a proven creative record of no less than two years
  5. Must have social influence
  6. Entrepreneurship and social impact is a plus
  7. All applications must be in English
  8. Should be available and prepared to participate in the Under 30 Meet-Up

Your entry should include:

  • Country
  • Full Names
  • Company name/Team you are applying with
  • A short motivation on why you should be on the list
  • A short profile on self and company
  • Links to published material / news clippings about nominee
  • All social media handles
  • Contact information
  • High-res images of yourself

Applications and nominations must be sent via email to FORBES AFRICA journalist and curator of the list, Karen Mwendera, on [email protected]

Nominations close on 3 February 2020.

Continue Reading

30 under 30

Making Of The 2019 Forbes Africa #30Under30 Cover

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.

#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

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

Published

on

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

Trending