Members of this year’s list of under 30s have one thing in common: A NEW COVID-INDUCED AGENDA FOR SOCIAL CHANGE. So what would a historic pandemic year throw up? ground-breaking entrepreneurs and thinkers. Our 2021 class of under 30s are just that: INFLUENTIAL CREATIVES, IMAGINATIVE BUSINESS OWNERS, INNOVATIVE TECHIES, AND GIFTED SPORTS STARS. Celebrating seven years of the FORBES AFRICA 30 UNDER 30 LIST, these achievers prove that now more than ever, they are crucial to the AFRICAN GROWTH STORY.
THE UNDER 30 TEAM
Words: Karen Mwendera, Chanel Retief, Simone Umraw
Art Director: Lucy Nkosi
Photographer: Motlabana Monnakgotla Retouching: Newkatz Studio
Styling: Keabetswe Mafora; Outfits supplied by: Spero Villioti, Viviers Studio, Sisi the Collection, GertJohan Coetzee, Port of LNG, Amen Concepts, Europa Art
Studio: Light Station Studio, Johannesburg |
Hair & Makeup: SnehhOnline Beauty
The Covid-19 pandemic posed a unique challenge this year when collating criteria for the nomination process. A new set of factors had to be taken into account for the challenges this year’s hopefuls were faced with.
Yet, despite the adversities and setbacks, about 1,000+ applicants and nominees poured into our online portal, and we also dredged them from our 30 Under 30 alum and our own research. This was then narrowed down to the 30 finalists across the business, technology, sports and creative sectors.
The criteria employed this year was the most rigorous it has ever been. Nominees needed to provide valid evidence of their endeavors. Background checks were done to ascertain their calibre, conduct and personal track-record. With audit partner SNG Grant Thornton, we were able to assess their company financials from losses to growth margins to overall revenue and profits since incorporation.
Our criteria for the 30 Under 30 list is that only those under the age of 30 ( just before the publication of this issue) may apply. All decision-making and interviews were conducted digitally this year, as the pandemic did not enable meetings in person. In doing so, we had new appreciation for the technology that powered our research. The finalists were vetted by the editorial team and a panel of high-profile judges and subjectmatter experts (see following page). This list is only but a small indication of the inspiring young talent on the continent who will no doubt grace the pages of FORBES AFRICA in the months and years to come
CHANGE-MAKERS VERSUS Covid! That’s what we were looking for when curating FORBES AFRICA’s 30 Under 30 list-makers this year. After all, 2021 marks an entire year that has disrupted the world. Businesses pivoted and so did our lives as we navigated the pandemic, and realized that the old ways of doing things no longer work.
But surely, there are answers, especially on the world’s youngest continent. A report, Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Africa, by the International Labour Organization, says that “Africa’s youth unemployment rate is the lowest in the world and compared to other regions”.
So, we celebrate young talent that comes to the fore in finding sustainable ways to overcome the crisis but also helping those who have been the hardest hit. From philanthropic beauty influencers to tech geeks revolutionizing renewable energy and even a chess master championing entrepreneurship, the list features a motley cast of individuals wanting to change the world when it needs it the most.
This year’s list-makers – the youngest being 19 – will go down in history as the Under 30s who survived and thrived during one of the most turbulent chapters on earth. The following pages are a record of the enduring tenacity and fighting spirit of Africa’s young leaders charting a nonlinear trajectory to success. (The list is in no particular order)
EXTERNAL JUDGES: THE CATEGORY EXPERTS WHOSE ROLE WAS TO SURVEY ALL THE FINALISTS OF THE 2021 30 UNDER 30 LIST, RANK THEM AND PROVIDE COMMENTARY ON EACH CANDIDATE.
BUSINESS: Nigerian businesswoman Uche Pedro, the founder, and CEO of BellaNaija, a media-tech brand known for its entertainment and lifestyle content. She has been in the business game for over 15 years, collecting numerous local and international accolades along the way including making the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA 50 Most Powerful Women list in 2020.
TECHNOLOGY: Olugbenga Agboola, the cofounder and CEO of Flutterwave, an African fintech firm building digital payments infrastructure. He has contributed to the development of fintech solutions at several tech companies and financial institutions such as PayPal, Standard Bank, among others. Flutterwave recently raised $170 million, giving it ‘unicorn’ status with a value of over $1 billion.
CREATIVES: Dr John Kani, a South African actor, author, director, and playwright known for his roles in Marvel movies Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther as well as The Lion King. In addition, Kani is also the Founder of the Market Theatre LaboratoryAcademy, chair of the Apartheid Museum South Africa, patron and Ambassador of the Market Theatre, and Trustee for the WWFNedbank Green Trust.
SPORTS: Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, a Zimbabwean-born professional rugby player who plays for Old Glory DC in Major League Rugby and previously for the South African national team and the Sharks in Super Rugby. With 117 caps, he is the most capped prop in South African history and the third most-capped Springbok of all time. He is also a 2019 Rugby World Cup winner. He owns a security company in South Africa and The Beast Foundation.
AUDIT PARTNER: FORBES AFRICA partnered again with SNG Grant Thornton to vet the business and financial statements of the candidates. This involved understanding the landscape, the profitability, growth and most of all, the scalability of each business.
For the full list download the digital copy here