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.
- 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
#30Under30: Sport Category 2019
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:
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.
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.
3. Mohamed Salah, 27, Egypt
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.
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.
5. Chad le Clos, 27, South Africa
“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.
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.
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.
8. Sara Ahmed, 21, Egypt
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.
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.
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.
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.
12. Patricia Apolot, 28, Uganda
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
17. Kagiso Rabada, 24, South Africa
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.
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.
19. Sadio Mane, 27, Senegal
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.
20. Sabrina Simader, 21, Kenya
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.
21. Gerson Domingos,23, Angola
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.
22. Siya Kolisi, 28, South Africa
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’.
23. Thembi Kgatlana, 23, South Africa
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.
24. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 29, Gabon
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.
25. Aphiwe Dyantyi, 24, South Africa
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.
26. Percy Tau, 25, South Africa
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.
27. Quinton de Kock, 26, South Africa
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.
28. Alex Iwobi, 23, Nigeria
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.”
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.
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.
#30Under30: Creatives Category 2019
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:
1. Karabo Poppy Moletsane, 27, South Africa
Creative Illustrator, Street Artist and Graphic Designer
Not only is Karabo Poppy Moletsane an artist aiming for the skies, but you can see some of her work from there too.
In the Zoo Lake public park in Johannesburg, two basketball courts are adorned with her creativity.
From a bird’s eye-view, you can see one in blue with a crocodile on it and another in turquoise with a cheetah on it.
Together with another local artist, they designed the courts in collaboration with Nike.
Moletsane is also responsible for tagging the famous landmark in Soweto, the Soweto Towers, which can be seen miles away and has become a source of kasi (township) pride.
Moletsane’s goal has been to put black female illustrators on the map.
In 2015, she turned her passion for art into a business and founded Mother Tongue-Creative House which is now trading under her own name, Karabo Poppy.
“This was a five-year journey that started with me only having one month of work experience, living with family and friends, and chartering my own course without scripts for success,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
She has won three Loerie Awards over the course of her career, and her work has been recognized as part of a Grammy-nominated music video Makeba, by French singer and artist, Jain.
Poppy was also the first black female artist to paint the Art Wall in the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in California.
For international woman’s day in March 2018, she was also the artist behind the sequential Google doodle.
Her contribution to the world has been contemporary African aesthetics and she continues to do so.
2. Rophnan Nuri, 29, Ethiopia
Electronic Dance Music Artist
At the age of 10, Rophnan Nuri released his first mixtape, singing and playing the drums with his classmates, and he has not stopped moving to his own beat since.
He self-funded his career with the money he made as a club DJ and over the years, he learned the technical side of music and produced his own distinct sound.
“I was always fascinated by the fusion of different instruments and voices, and created a unique niche for myself by amalgamating traditional Ethiopian sounds from the past with futurist electronic music,” he says.
Nuri’s talent also saw him being one of the three African DJs chosen by South African DJ, Black Coffee, to perform in Ibiza Spain in 2017.
In 2018, he received awards in three categories at the 2018 Leza Awards in Ethiopia.
In the same year, he featured on a song titled Get To Work by Major Lazer, a popular American electronic dance music trio.
Despite his global impact, Nuri says he will always stay true to his Ethiopian roots, one of the reasons why he is most loved by his fellow Ethiopians.
“Getting recognition and support in my home country is unparalleled. My ability to engineer traditional instruments and merge them with popular sounds has earned me incredible support in the form of sold-out performances,” he says,
He continues to share his love for music through the Ethiopian DJ Association, nurturing up-and-coming talent.
3. Henry Amponsah, 27, Ghana
Designer, Founder and CEO: 101 Clothing
Henry Amponsah knew he was going to be a designer from a young age.
“I remember when I told my mum I wanted to be a designer in the future, she angrily said, ‘what will be the use of gaining education only to be sitting in a container sewing clothes for chicken change?’ That got me laughing out loud and I said to myself ‘I will prove this lady wrong in the future’,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
And Amponsah did just that.
While in high school, he and four friends had a photoshoot with outfits that cost $150 and they posted the photos on social media.
“The collection went viral and clients started talking to me,” Amponsah says.
The recognition pushed him to officially start his business, 101 Clothing, in 2014, and the rest was a stitch in time.
Today, Amponsah has dressed Samira Bawumia, the wife of Ghana’s Vice President. He also runs a foundation that helps with basic school equipment and workshops.
To date, he has received over 10 local and international awards and featured in many magazines including British Vogue magazine.
In the end, Amponsah managed to fulfil his dream and that of his mom’s; he built his fashion house and his now gunning for a PhD.
4. Austin Malema, 28, South Africa
Photographer and CEO: Pixel Kollective
While some opt to invest in shares or property, Austin Malema opted to invest in memories and everything clicked into place.
Instead of celebrating his 21st birthday with a party, he used the money to buy his first camera, which cost R18,000 ($1,200).
He began shooting at events, which led to more bookings and he realized that the lens gave him greater access to musicians, actors and prominent people.
Since then, Malema has photographed for many brands globally and for events such as the South African Music Awards, the South African Film and Television Awards and the Global Citizen Festival.
His work has also led to him photographing popular musicians such as Drake, Joey BadA$$, AKA, Casper Nyovest, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
In 2018, when FORBES AFRICA 2018 30 Under 30 alumni, Thuso Mbedu, was nominated for an International Emmy, he was her official photographer in New York.
Apart from his exposure, Malema has turned his passion for photography into a business.
Last year, he founded his first company, Pixel Kollective, with his two partners, Kelly Leuuw and Sivuyile Matsiliza.
“My biggest dream is for the company to represent young black photographers around South Africa,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
5. Harmony Katulondi, 29, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Presenter, Model, Actor and Voice Over Artist
Harmony Katulondi is a jack of all trades, and definitely a name to remember.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo-born presenter first fell in love with acting and presenting when he moved to South Africa as a toddler.
“I remember going over lines with my parents and stepping into new worlds every time I got on to the stage. I loved the smiles, joy and awe it brought into people’s eyes when they saw me,” he says.
However, when he was in university, it was nothing close to that feeling.
One day, while studying, a friend told him of a casting gig where they needed tall people.
He applied and it turned out to be African Fashion International.
“I got there, walked, and they loved it, but I needed an agent. They told me to go upstairs and I signed with my current agency and so the casting life began. Commercial here, fashion week and catalogues there. That lead to TV shows, stints on Generations: The Legacy, and Skeem Saam,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
However, there was one goal he aimed to achieve; being a Top Billing presenter. Katulondi auditioned for the Top Billing presenter search three times and didn’t make it.
Disappointed, this prompted him to start his own company in 2016, Harmony Katulondi Pty Ltd, a creative consultancy company.
Two years later, the presenter search came around again but Katulondi was not eager until his friends pushed him to.
In the end, Katulondi got the part. His talent saw him doing voice-overs for the Black Panther movie campaign. He is also the founder of a non-profit called Just Love to help those in need by doing outreaches such as feeding schemes, fundraising, skills development and environmental clean-ups.
6. Kapasa Musonda, 29, Zambia
In 2011, Kapasa Musonda returned to a non-existent fashion industry in her home country, Zambia, after living in the US for six years.
She had just obtained her Associate of Arts Advanced Study degree with a Magna Cum Laude, but had nowhere to use it.
“I had no choice but to open my own design business if I was to survive and make a living at what I knew best,” she says.
This birthed her business and fashion house, Mangishi Doll, that same year.
It is a Zambian ‘Afro-Eclectic’ clothing brand inspired by bold prints and an artistic expression of design and style.
Along the way, Musonda has made enough money to hire two permanent tailors and train five women in advanced fashion design.
In 2017, her garments were retailing at a boutique in Los Angeles and that caught the eyes of many US celebrities.
Among them was iconic actor Angela Bassett, who wore her garments to the American Black Film Festival Honours in Hollywood.
“We were elated and honored and after Angela Bassett wore our piece, we had the biggest growth spurt we had ever experienced,” she says.
It was not long before the BET Awards 2018 invited her for an exclusive fashion event where she presented a 24-piece collection.
From a three-year-old armed with a sewing machine, to taking on the world with couture and elegance, Musonda continues to put African print on the map.
7. Richard Akuson, 26, Nigeria
Founder and Editor: A Nasty Boy
Richard Akuson’s activism for LGBTQ+ and challenging gender norms resulted in him being named one of the 40 most powerful people in Nigeria under the age of 40 in the 2017 YNaijaPower List.
He founded A Nasty Boy, a magazine that is a fashion platform celebrating alternative and creative ideas, forms of expression and lifestyles, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community.
It was named one of Vogue’s ‘What to Read This Fall’ in 2017.
“That’s pretty radical, given the political climate and culture there,” Vogue said. Akuson is a lawyer by profession, but dove into this creative activism after experiencing a brutal homophobic attack.
He sought asylum in the US and grew his platform into a global brand.
A Nasty Boy has since created a safe space to have meaningful conversations for people persecuted for being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
But Akuson plans to take it a step further. “Through collaborations with American institutions, I’d like to focus my time as a licensed American lawyer on pro-LGBTQ+ rights policy advocacy in Africa,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
He is currently writing a memoir about his journey to the US and co-producing as well as co-directing a documentary series about the lived experiences of African asylum-seekers in the US.
8. Menzi Mcunu, 22, South Africa
Founder: Afrocentric Gentlemvn
Menzi Mcunu is one of South Africa’s best-dressed young men, and he gets paid for it.
His notable look is a well-tailored suit, tie, top hat and a swag oozing elegance and grace.
Not bad for a 22-year-old.
He has graced the covers of, not one, but two magazines and his biggest highlight was being part of GQ South Africa’s Best Dressed Men for 2017.
Internationally, he has attended Milan Fashion Week in 2018 and has been featured on Vogue Italia, GQ Russia and GQ Australia.
It all started when he visited Mumbai, India, in 2013.
He was inspired by the Indian culture and its attention to detail in fashion.
As a result, he founded Afrocentric Gentlemvn, an African lifestyle brand that merges European aesthetics and African elegance with suit measurement and creative consultancy services.
“I knew nothing about the technical side or production side of selling garments but I wanted to depict suits differently. I didn’t want them to just be suits like the ones I saw at many retailers but I wanted them to represent a lifestyle,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
Mcunu plans to grow his platform, Afrocentric Gentlemvn, globally.
He has also been interested in the development of African luxury and African fashion on the continent.
9. Trevor Stuurman, 26, South Africa
Photographer and Creative Director
CNN describes Trevor Stuurman as a cultural force, and indeed he has illustrated that.
Living up to these titles, he has had the opportunity to document former US President, Barack Obama, The Carters (Beyoncé and Jay Z) as well his mentor and someone he considers a sister, Naomi Campbell.
He was born and raised in the diamond city of Kimberley in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
After studying film, he was drawn to a different medium of visual arts – photography.
As a result, he became a self-taught photographer; in fact, one of South Africa’s most sought-after photographers.
“The more I leave home, the more I realize the power and currency that home has. And I think that it makes me a better story-teller because I am able to find pieces of home wherever I go and then create tangible products,” he says.
This essence of belonging inspired him to host his first solo exhibition titled Home, a love letter to the Himba women of Namibia, at the HAZARD Gallery in Johannesburg.
He has received recognition such as being on GQ South Africa’s Most Connected and Most Influential Man list 2018, Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans 2015, and Destiny Magazine’s Power of 40 List. Stuurman is also a contributor to British Vogue.
He plans to have his work live in museums and art galleries around the world and ultimately, to cultivate a space for more young story-tellers on the continent to share their lived African experiences through their own lenses.
10. Burna Boy, 28, Nigeria
Early this year, Burna Boy took his Nigerian music fire to the US and ended up selling out the iconic Apollo Theatre in New York City where previous African legends like Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba and Black Coffee were once hosted.
He was also one of the major artists to perform this year at Coachella, one of the world’s biggest music and arts festival.
Born Damini Ogulu, he is undoubtedly one of the hottest African recording artists right now and a name to remember.
The Afro-fusion singer and songwriter rose to fame after his lead single Like to Party was released in 2012.
Since then, he has moved to his own beat, releasing hit after hit each year.
Some of the world’s favorites include Dangote, Ye, On the Low, Soke, and Hallelujah, each reaching over three million views on YouTube.
Of the many accolades, he has won Best Album of the Year, Best Pop Artist of the Year at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards in 2015, and recently received four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival.
His third studio album Outside was hailed by Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today as the best Nigerian album of 2018.
11. Kim Jayde, 28, Zimbabwe
TV Presenter, Model and MC
It’s not every day that one gets to meet the world’s biggest names such as Charlize Theron, Naomi Campbell, Major Lazer, Ciara, Paris Hilton, Tyler Perry and Trevor Noah.
But Harare-born Kim Jayde has.
Since she moved to South Africa, she has been landing major gigs, making her undoubtedly one of Zimbabwe’s ‘it girls’ at the moment.
You may have seen her on your screens on MTV Base Africa as a presenter, but she has also worked with brands like Revlon, Coca-Cola, Ackermans, Accessorize (London) and more.
“My story of being discovered by MTV Africa on Instagram and then going on to become the face of the channel is proof that anything is possible, with hard work, dedication and passion,” she says.
Among the many awards was the Media Personality of The Year at the 2018 Zimbabwe Achievers Awards.
She was also listed as one of the 40 Under 30 class of Emerging Zimbabwe Leaders by Gumiguru and not to mention took home her first international award for Woman in Media at the fifth annual Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards.
However, when the cameras aren’t rolling, Jayde still uses her degree in social work contributing to the Home of Hope For Girls; something she has always been passionate about.
12. Petite Noir, 28, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Singer, Songwriter and Producer
From the African soil to some of the world’s greatest stages, Petite Noir embodies a modern African renaissance through his music and art.
He once opened for American Grammy award-winning singer Solange Knowles while she was on her 2013 US tour and performed at the South by Southwest festival in Texas.
In the 70s, an Angolan woman and Congolese man fell in love.
But due to the political instability in both countries, they fled to Belgium in search of a new start.
That new start birthed Yannick Ilunga, now popularly known as Petite Noir.
In 1993 they then moved to Cape Town where his love for music was awakened.
“I really started to fall in love with music at the age of 15. It was something that I automatically felt drawn to, so much so that I immersed myself in various music projects as much as I could,” Noir tells FORBES AFRICA.
In 2012, he released his first single Till We Ghosts, which caught the eye of a music manager in the UK and wasting no time, Noir moved there.
The next year was his big break.
He signed a £80,000 ($103,305) deal and embarked on his first world tour, which spanned Africa, the UK, Europe and America.
“I toured with Solange and Foals [British rock band]; I played at festivals with line-ups that included the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Angélique Kidjo and many more,” he says.
Since then, his career has been nothing short of greatness.
Together with his wife, Rochelle ‘RhaRha’ Nembhard, he has been working on a charity called the Noirwave foundation.
Noir is currently working on his own festival called ‘No Borders’, a celebration of the journey of immigrants through art and music.
Among some of his accolades is the South African Music Award 2016 for Best Alternative Album for La Vie Est Belle/Life is Beautiful.
The same year, he also received recognition for the album artwork and the video Best exhibited in the African art gallery at Harvard University.
With Solange inviting him to play in the US and American musician Mos Def being one of his advisors, Petite Noir is a name to remember and a wave to catch on to.
13. Aisha Baker, 29, South Africa
Businesswoman, Influencer and Style Icon
There are a few names that have become synonymous with South Africa’s authority in the digital beauty industry and Aisha Baker is one of them.
Baker founded BakedOnline in 2009 when the blogging trend was fledgling in South Africa.
“I loved fashion, since I was introduced to Vogue Pattern books by my seamstress grandmother; I also loved literature and writing. It was a natural progression for me,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
At the age of 20, she began monetizing it.
“I had accidentally formed a media company without knowing. Having one employee at the time, my photographer Tegan Smith, who worked only for petrol money and great images,” she says.
For one year, Baker worked a nine-to-five job at an embroidery factory to fund her business and would shoot content for her blog on weekends.
It was a stressful time.
“I got admitted to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack. Turns out it was an ulcer caused by stress,” she says.
Ten years later, her brand has since stayed relevant and picked up some awards along the way.
She graced the cover of the 2018 influencer issue of Cosmopolitan South Africa.
She has worked with brands such as Estée Lauder, Mercedes-Benz, Cotton, Mac, Woolworths and Microsoft to name a few.
Most recently, she was awarded the E! Africa Social Media Award at their Pop of Culture awards.
14. Karun, 24, Kenya
You might know Karun from the pop trio Kenyan group Camp Mulla, nominated for a BET Award in the US in 2012.
But this alternative R&B pop artist is now taking on the world solo and is one of Kenya’s rising new wave artists.
Born Karungari Mungai, she started her music career at 14 and went on to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the US.
Since then, she has had the opportunity to perform at live festivals and shows across the globe such as the SXSW 2015 (Austin TX) as part of the collective Cosmic Homies.
Karun also performed at the Madaraka Festival (Seattle), Blankets & Wine in Kenya and most recently, the Africa Nouveau Festival, Kenya’s most forward-thinking electric three-day music festival.
She has been covered by publications such as The Fader and OkayAfrica and local Kenyan publications such as The Daily Nation.
The young artist is currently working on a full-length project, and is in the process of planning a pan-African and northern hemisphere tour.
“The goal is to be the biggest female R&B act out of Africa. Watch this space,” she tells us.
15. Gilmore Moyo, 29, Zimbabwe
Creative Director, Fashion Facilitator, Former TV & Radio Host and Founder: Paper Bag Africa
Gilmore Moyo was named one of the 100 Most influential Zimbabweans Under 40 for 2018, alongside politician Nelson Chamisa and Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry.
Moyo is known for his contribution to the Zimbabwean media and art scene.
He hosted and produced a radio show on Cliff Central, and also Thatha Wena, a conversational pan-African TV show.
Apart from his on-air talent, he also founded Paper Bag Africa, a content creation, public relations and management company.
His biggest highlight in the business was attaining a contract to manage the European Union Film Festival 2018 and 2019, which ran over five days and showcased 10 films.
“Being an entrepreneur in Zimbabwe is the most difficult thing one has to go through. Funding is not available for you to grow your business and opportunities to attain money aren’t easily visible,” he reflects.
Despite the challenges, he is optimistic about the future.
“Our ultimate goal is to become the ‘go to’ establishment for authentic African content,” he says.
16. Boitumelo ‘Boity’ Thulo, 29, South Africa
TV Host, Entrepreneur and Musician
Boitumelo ‘Boity’ Thulo wanted to pursue a career in criminology and psychology, but instead, has become one of the most recognized stars in South Africa’s entertainment industry.
To think that her career started almost 10 years ago when she was cast in a lead role in an advert for an international restaurant chain, Thulo has since dabbled in various parts of the entertainment industry including TV hosting, acting, and music.
“There are so many highlights and standout moments in my career. But the one that always gives me goosebumps is my lead role on the Fergusons’ Rockville [in 2013]. That role is what paved the way to ‘Boity’ becoming a household name. I will forever be grateful to Connie and Shona Ferguson for believing in and trusting me with such a big role,” she says.
Today, she also wears the entrepreneurial hat after founding Boity Toning Support, a weight loss supplement.
Last year, Thulo recorded her debut single Wuz Dat featuring Nasty C, also a former FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list-maker.
The song was nominated for best collaboration at the SA Hip Hop awards.
Thulo stays right on script as she further pursues acting, music, as well as developing more health products and nutritional supplements.
17. Hermann Kamte, 27, Cameroon
Architect, Founder and CEO: Hermann Kamte & Associates
At 26, Hermann Kamte delivered a keynote speech alongside Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, during the Africa 2018 Forum at Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt.
He was invited to speak about the future of African cities from the perspective of a creative architect.
This has been one of his biggest highlights to date and this is the only beginning.
Kamte is an award-winning Cameroonian architect with flair.
He founded Hermann Kamte & Associates, an architectural firm that provides design, landscape, education, research and development services.
One of his most notable works is the ‘Lagos’ Wooden Tower’ that won him the American Architecture Award as well as the World Architecture Festival and Awards’ inaugural WAFX Prize in 2017, known as the world’s most forward-looking concept.
“I think the desire to be an entrepreneur was very important alongside the fear to fail,” he says.
“Being able to offer a useful service to the community is the first thing that drives my passion for architecture. I have to be a model for younger generations; I want to create a safe and secure environment for people, with sustainable projects,” he adds.
Kamte is well on his way to building a better tomorrow.
18. Helen Chukwu, 25, Nigeria
Fashion Designer, Founder and CEO: Helen Couture
Helen Chukwu is cut from a different cloth and it is no surprise that her designs have featured on Vogue Arabia.
She started dressing up dolls as a child, and now dresses up brides for a living.
At the age of 18, she became the founder and CEO of her design house, Helen Couture, which currently has operations in Nigeria, London and Dubai.
One of her memorable highlights was a private showcase in London and having her dress worn by Katie Cleary, America’s Next Top Model Cycle 1 contestant, at the 2013 Oscar Party. She is currently in the process of stocking her products in two stores each in the US, France and Italy.
She and her team have started drawing up plans to raise capital and build a 10,000 garment-production-per-day garment manufacturing factory in Nigeria by 2021.
19. Luis Munana, 27, Namibia Creative Director, Model, TV
Host and Founder: Voigush Africa
You might remember his face from the ninth season of the reality television series Big Brother Africa, in 2014.
Since then, Luis Munana has been able to use his reality TV star status to good use.
Munana is a creative director of a children’s TV show he founded in 2017 called Waka Waka Moo.
The original animated cartoon and puppet program became one of the first in Namibia.
“I was baby-sitting my niece and nephew and I saw them recite every single word from cartoons created in the western world. So, I decided to create Namibia’s own cartoon and puppet show translated in all 11 Namibian languages. So, Waka Waka Moo was created,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
The animations educate children about Namibia’s history, culture and heritage.
He has managed to expand Waka Waka Moo from being on TV to a tour reaching 44 rural primary schools in the country.
As for the hosting side of his career, Munana founded Voigush Africa, a lifestyle, fashion and entertainment TV show in 2014 inspired by the South African entertainment market.
“While studying in South Africa, I would go to auditions to shows like V Entertainment, Top Billing and MTV Base Africa but they would always tell me I am not South African. So, I came home and created my own show,” he says.
Voigush has since covered music, lifestyle and fashion events across Africa which Munana produces, directs, scripts and edits himself.
As a jack of all trades, Munana proves that one can be talented both on and off screen.
20. Upile Chisala, 24, Malawi
Author and Poet
Upile Chisala started writing at the age of four.
By the time she started primary school, there were piles of paper with little stories scattered around her house, in Zomba, Malawi, which was already chock-a-block with books.
But it took her years to embrace her talent.
After moving to the US, she studied sociology and graduated in 2015 but struggled to find a steady job.
She turned to poetry for comfort and self-published her first book at the age of 21.
It was her first collection of poetry called Soft Magic.
She continued her studies and enrolled for an MSc in African studies at the University of Oxford.
She revisited her writing and published a book called Nectar in 2017.
This brought the opportunity to travel and do readings, but it was when she traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, that her talent was reaffirmed.
“The room was filled with over 200 people who didn’t mind that there were no seats left for them. They were happy to stand and listen to me read from both books,” she says.
Next, she received an email from two Folio Literary Management agents in New York City.
In no time, Chisala signed a three-book deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing worth ‘hundreds of thousands US dollars’.
Since then, she founded Khala Series, a monthly mentorship program for writers in Johannesburg.
All profits from this series are donated.
“Khala is my way of giving back to the community,” she says.
21. Joseph Awuah-Darko, 22, Ghana
In a dump site in Ghana near its capital Accra, Joseph Awuah-Darko stands holding a laptop in one hand and a face mask in another, like something out of an apocalypse movie.
He is dressed in orange overalls and there is e-waste as far as the eye can see; and the burning of the contents creates arid smoke in the background.
Darko is a contemporary artist, art collector and dealer and co-founder of the NGO, Agbogblo.Shine Initiative. The organization, which started in 2017, encourages people working at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture.
His aim was to highlight the importance of the, “circular economy in the face of electronic waste degradation”.
While enrolled at Ashesi University in Ghana, he began educating himself about the obscure art market.
His first major sale was a 3D-printed Ife Head he sold privately to a buyer for $11,000 in 2017. Since then, more clients kept coming, trading the value of trash wish cash and this resulted in him becoming the Managing Director of Africa Modern Art Fund at the young age of 22.
He presented a solo exhibition at Gallery1957; making him the youngest African contemporary artist to do so.
Prior to his contemporary art collector days, Darko was a musician under the alias ‘Okuntakinte’.
Darko is well on his way to getting a piece of the estimated $60 billion global contemporary art industry.
22. Joe ‘Human’ Nawaya, 25, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Graphic designer and Co-founder: Creative Mind Space
Joe ‘Human’ Nawaya was once enrolled for a degree in design at Pearson Institute in South Africa.
However, due to lack of finances, he had to drop out.
“At this point, I concluded that my life had stopped, I wasn’t going to be able to be anybody or make something of myself,” he tells FORBES AFRICA. However, this is not the design of his life as he was named Fast Company SA’s Top 20 Under 25 thanks to his passion and determination to pursue his first love, graphics and design.
His creative journey started when he was a child.
When his parents bought him a computer, the first application he used was paint.
Taking his passion to another level, he co-founded Creative Mind Space, together with his business partner Elliot Sithole.
It is an agency that focuses on creating content, designs, strategies, animation, and websites for brands.
Nawaya has been featured by Destiny Man as part of their Bold and Distinguished edition, positioning him as one of the most creative content creators in South Africa. Additionally, Nawaya went on to become a lifestyle ambassador for Bespoken Man, a gentleman grooming brand focused on lifestyle and experience.
While there, he worked with brands like Jameson Irish Whiskey, MINI Cooper and Savanna Dry.
Nawaya currently co-hosts #TheThreadedExchange with Siya Beyile, a former FORBES AFRICA 30 UNDER 30 list-maker, on CliffCentral.
He has also recently launched a podcast called Pioneers vs Pretenders on Lutcha, a digital podcasting company, which hosts a variety of podcasts online.
23. Thando Thabethe, 29, South Africa
Actress, TV Presenter, and Radio DJ
Thando Thabethe is a jack of all trades.
She’s a prominent name in South Africa’s entertainment industry and has come to take it all.
Her acting career rose to prominence in early 2014 after her role on the South African soapie, Generations: The Legacy.
Her radio career dates back to the early days of 2008, having presented on the radio station of the University of Johannesburg.
But today, both her radio and acting careers have blossomed.
She currently has her own weekday radio show called The Thabooty Drive.
As for her acting, she moved from the small screen to the big screen, starring in the 2016 film Mrs Right Guy, the 2018 film Housekeepers and most recently, the lead role in 2019’s box office hit Love Lives Here.
This year, she was nominated for best TV host and best talk show for Thando Bares All, which aired on TLC, and she walked away with the award for Best Talk show.
“Focus on your own focus. I think when you follow your heart and you follow your own passion, everything else follows and those that need recognize and follow it will,” she tells us.
Some of her achievements include being nominated for a SAFTA as the Best TV Presenter and for the Liberty Radio Awards as Best Drive Time presenter and for Best Drive Time Show.
24. Rich Fumani Mnisi, 27, South Africa
When Beyoncé Knowles-Carter came to South Africa for the Global Citizen Festival in December, she was spotted wearing items of clothing by local designer Rich Mnisi.
She was adorned in the custom RICH MNISI Rhundzu blouse and crocodile half-pleat skirt.
“Growing up, all I have always wanted to do was to design clothes that reflect my own energy and the love of coloring outside the lines. I have dreamed of my favorite icons wearing my clothes like any kid dreams of meeting their icons. Protect your dreams with all you have because they have the power to define your destiny,” he said in an Instagram post after celebrating the iconic musician wearing his clothes.
In the short amount of time that Mnisi has been in the fashion industry, he has turned heads in South Africa’s fashion industry and internationally, featuring in publications like Vogue Italia, GQ, Financial Times, Marie Claire, ELLE and Vogue Russia.
Mnisi is a graduate of LISOF (Leaders in the Science of Fashion) and was awarded the Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year 2014.
He also owns a furniture brand consisting of a chaise and a stool titled Nwa-Mulamula, after his late great-grandmother.
He is also the designer of the red Coca-Cola outfit worn by Karabo Poppy on the cover of the 2019 FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list.
25. Kevin Njue 27, Kenya
Producer, Director, Writer and CEO: Rocque Pictures
At university, Kevin Njue and his partner used his student loan of $200 to direct and produce a short film that he had written in hostel. The film, Sticking Ribbons, was released in 2013 and Njue went on to win the award for Best East African Talent at the 2014 Zanzibar International Film Festival.
Njue used the monetary reward of $1,000 to invest in his next short film, Intellectual Scum, which went on to screen in 15 film festivals globally.
“I was proud to thought-provoke the audience on the unequal racial relationships in Africa’s cultural and political landscape,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
After gaining experience creating short films, Njue decided it was time to make bigger ones, a full-length feature film.
This ultimately led to him founding a business in 2016, Rocque Pictures.
With only enough money just to register the business, he knocked on doors while pitching his first feature film, 18 HOURS.
Of the $45,000 dollars needed, he managed to raise $13,000 from a university professor and an entrepreneur. In the end, the film was finished and launched in November 2017. It sold out at a cinema premiere in Nairobi.
In 2018, the film won the Best Overall Movie in Africa, Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, making history as the first Kenyan film to be nominated and win in the history of the awards.
“As the CEO of Rocque Pictures, the goal is to set up a state-of-the-art film studio with a sound stage, backlot, a film park and an underwater film stage in Nairobi by 2030,” he says.
26. Sho Madjozi, 27, South Africa
Sho Majozi won the hearts of South Africans in the early days of 2017 and seemingly, everything she touches burst into a euphoric cornucopia of color in celebration her African heritage.
She introduced herself to the world as a Tsonga rapper with hits like Gqi, Huku, Kona, Wakanda Forever, and recently Idhom, bringing the XiTsonga language into the mainstream.
“I can’t believe people tried to tell us we weren’t dope for so long, now they see…” she says.
She is an artist for the people and whenever she performs, her energy is infectious.
She has played at festivals such as Afropunk, opened for artists like Travis Scott and Jidenna, and not to mention one of her highlight performances at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa late last year.
The rising star was born Maya Wegerif in the small village of Shirley, deep in the province of the Limpopo province of South Africa.
After living in Tanzania, Senegal, and the US, Madjozi is fluent in Kiswahili, French and almost every South African language, making her pretty much a true global citizen.
Apart for her talented vocals, she also has a sense of style to match.
Her inspiration comes from the traditional Tsonga culture.
She has also teamed up with local designers to bring her first line of merchandise to fans, awakening her entrepreneurial spirit.
Her goal is to bring her culture to the world, which she continues to do so, staying true to her roots.
She was nominated for a BET Awards for Best New International Act, and recently bagged the Newcomer Of The Year and female artist of the year at the South African Music Awards.
27. Sarah Owusu, 28, Ghana
Artist and Painter
It all started in the summer of 2012 when living in London, and Sarah Owusu was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy which left the left side of her face paralyzed.
“During this very dark period of my life, I wouldn’t leave my house except for my hospital appointments, and a few weeks into my diagnosis, I got a sudden urge to paint although I hadn’t created anything for years,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
After gaining the courage to paint, she went to a cheap pound store and bought two blank canvases, cheap paint and brushes.
Owusu’s passion for art grew as she noticed the lack of black female artists in the industry.
One of the biggest highlights for the self-taught artist was last year when she was invited to present two of her paintings of the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, at the Africa Business Summit in London Business School.
“My future plans are to have my artwork exhibited across the African continent, starting from my place of origin, Ghana,” she says.
28. Abisola Akintunde, 28, Nigeria
Founder and Creative Director: MakeupbyAshabee and Beelashes
They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but for Abisola Akntunde, beauty is also in the brush stroke and makeup palette.
For three weeks, she worked for a dental clinic before deciding to venture into makeup full-time.
In 2012, she worked with M-Net Africa Magic doing make-up on a TV set while trying to set up her two businesses, Makeupbyashabee and Beelashes.
Soon enough, she started receiving bookings outside of her job at M-Net and had to quit and focus full-time on her entrepreneurial journey.
“It was a very bold and scary step because I was afraid I was going to leave a steady income for something not certain but like they say, ‘don’t be afraid’,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
Akintunde took the bold step, bought her own car and set up her own studio and the rest has been a transformation for the better.
Since inception, MakeupbyAshabee has made up over 200 brides across Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, South Africa and Kenya.
While with Beelashes, she says she sells over 5,000 units of beauty lashes per quarter.
Akintunde has hired a staff of 20 and has trained over 50 interns between 2017 and now.
As part of her philanthropic efforts, she has partnered with the Archbishop Vining Anglican Church in Lagos to train young women in the art of makeup.
She has also partnered with AfribeautyHub to empower young women in Ibadan in Oyo State, Nigeria, on makeup.
“The next goal at MakeupbyAshabee is to learn permanent makeup, the art of micro-blading and ombré brows,” she says.
By doing this, she plans to bring something new to the table as micro-blading is an eyebrow embroidery procedure categorized under permanent makeup lasting for up to two years.
29. Yaa Bonsu, 28, Kenya
Fashion stylist and Creative
In 2017, Yaa Bonsu met international model Naomi Campbell who told her to believe in herself, and then signed a copy of her Vogue magazine.
Bonsu took her advice and has been climbing the international ladder in fashion since.
“I remember flipping through Vogue magazines when I was 15 years old and being engrossed in this glossy world. After I watched the film, The Devil Wears Prada, I knew the fashion world belonged to me,” she says.
Today, she spends her days with runway models, designers and in the thick of fashion shoots for some of those glossy magazines.
In 2016, she relocated to Dubai where her career in the fashion industry took off.
She connected with industry powerhouses such as Naomi Campbell, Zeynab El-Helw and Shashi Menon.
She has had the opportunity to style an advertorial for the luxury brand Fendi, SS19, in April 2019.
The same year, she produced a fashion editorial for Revolution magazine that featured high-end jewelry – Dior, de GRISOGONO, Bvlgari and Piaget, an achievement she says she is most proud of.
She has set her goals on becoming an internationally-renowned fashion powerhouse joining the leagues of icons Victoria Beckham, Edward Enninful and Vanessa Kingori.
30. Paola Audrey Ndengue, 29, Cote d’Ivoire
Host and Producer and Co-founder: FASHIZBLACK
Paola Audrey Ndengue is an entrepreneur and a creative with a higher calling.
Her mission has been to promote the French-speaking African creative scene to the world.
While studying in France, she became a fashion blogger and has since gained 10 years’ experience in digital media.
She is currently the co-founder and creative director of FASHIZBLACK, a magazine focused on black and African fashion, designers, beauty and lifestyle.
And her most recent venture is PANNELLE & Co, a PR creative marketing and content agency in 2013.
She has worked with several international clients and artists such as Kiff No Beat (Côte d’Ivoire), Stanley Enow (Cameroon), Boddhi Satva (Central African Republic) and Canabasse (Senegal).
Both businesses she is involved in led to her being recognized as a finalist at the CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards for the Young Business Leader of The Year in West Africa 2014.
Her growth since has been phenomenal and she has featured in numerous publications including Teen Vogue, CNN Africa and Forbes Afrique.
She is currently working on Maybelline’s first pan-African campaign, including several celebrities and influencers from Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.
She was recently appointed the marketing manager of the first MTV Shuga Côte d’Ivoire, an international show educating young viewers about HIV/AIDS, an opportunity that will enlarge Ndengue’s reach.
#30Under30: Technology Category 2019
The list is in no particular order:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
18. Josh Okpata, 27 and Tochukwu Mbanugo, 29, Nigeria
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.
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.
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.
21. Joshua Chibueze, 26, Somto Ifezue, 28, and Odunayo Eweniyi, 26, Nigeria
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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