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. Bruce Diale, 29, South Africa
Founder and Managing Director: Brucol Global Development
Bruce Diale went from living on R10 a day to founding a million-rand business.
Born and raised in the Limpopo province of South Africa, Diale comes from humble beginnings.
As a child, he prayed that one day he would be rich and his father would pick him up from school in an expensive car. That didn’t happen.
Instead, he founded a business and was able to buy his own car.
With the R500 ($33) given to him by his then girlfriend, and R3,000 ($202) raised from his younger brother who sold his PlayStation, Diale founded Brucol Global Development in 2014.
It is an award-winning agricultural consulting company with the vision of innovating and revolutionizing the rural agricultural landscapes of Africa.
The company has created their patent product, Gardenizly, which Diale designed with his father.
It is a vegetable tower garden that uses minimal amount of water to produce leafy vegetables without the use of fertilizers.
Today, Diale is disrupting the agriculture space.
“Brucol has grown significantly since its inception as it now operates in three provinces, employs 15 people and generates over R13 million ($877,000) in turnover,” he says.
This year, he plans to make R100 million ($6.7 million) and to finalize the creation of an agribusiness app to help people access funding support much easier.
Looking back at his struggles, he is thankful for the investments his then girlfriend, now fiancée, made.
“I had also read a lot of books about successful business people, so I was aware of the pattern of success and so was my fiancé. We would sit and laugh in the dark because we knew this was all part of the process and that one day someone would be reading our story on a FORBES magazine,” he says.
Diale won the 2017 National Engen Pitch and Polish competition hosted by Engen and Nedbank.
His company was delegated as one of five companies to represent the South African Agribusiness sector at the 2018 Mozambique, Gaza Investment Conference.
2. Terence Mathe, 29, Zimbabwe
Co-founder: Southern Incineration Services (SISCO) PBC
Ever wondered what happens to amputated limbs post-surgery? Well, Terence Mathe may have an idea.
He co-founded an incineration service for biomedical waste to hospitals, funeral parlors and clinics.
SISCO, as it is called, currently runs two incineration plants in Zimbabwe, Bulawayo; with collection points in Bulawayo, Gweru, Zvishavane, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls.
This is a combined capacity of handling 220 kg per hour of waste, he says.
“This year, SISCO will set up in Harare by constructing Zimbabwe’s first smokeless, odorless, gas-powered incinerator with a combined capacity of 300 kg per hour, so as to expand our operations and cement our position as Zimbabwe’s largest provider of incineration services,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
One of the biggest milestones he has had in the business was when he was called by the EU Election Observation Mission headquarters to provide incineration services for all their election tallies and other confidential information.
Mathe has also managed to maintain his full-time job as an auditor while running the successful business for three years.
He plans to leave his job this year and fully take on the business growing it to become Zimbabwe’s largest bio-waste incineration business.
3. Mariam Manack, 29, South Africa
Founder and Director: iTrain
Durban-born Mariam Manack is a sports scientist, nutritional advisor, fitness and lifestyle coach.
While working as a personal trainer in 2011, Manack became passionate about empowering women through health and fitness.
Without any gym equipment, she would train clients at home using her voice and her gift.
Soon her clientele grew and she knew it was time to set up something bigger.
This led her to founding iTrain, a health and fitness studio for women.
She also hosts the iTrain run clubs yearly and has partnered with BMW Supertech group for sponsored training kits.
This year, she plans to open up a studio in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
She is also a brand ambassador for Puma.
In 2017, she was recognized by the Minara Chamber Of Commerce as the youngest Muslim woman to receive a finalist award at the Business Recognition Awards and the Minara Entrepreneurship Competition. The worth of her business is estimated to be R1.7 million ($115,000).
4. Khanyisile Madonko-Nderezina, 25, Zimbabwe
Co-founder and CEO: Sakhile Madonko Enterprises
Khanyisile Madonko-Nderezina has had a yen for entrepreneurship from a young age. He has explored various opportunities, from a sweet-selling business in Zimbabwe to founding a student café and restaurant in South Africa.
He figured out the pitfalls SMEs experience that lead to failure, so decided to establish a business that would help them grow.
Sakhile Madonko was founded in 2015 and provides strategy, consulting, business development and growth advisory for small businesses.
His business ventures have not been without their challenges.
“The biggest struggle has been gaining the same ear one would land as an older entrepreneur. Due to my age, many business ventures I had were affected because I was deemed too young,” he says.
“The only way we could prove ourselves was to work twice as hard and constantly prove ourselves despite the constant push-back in business from seemingly more seasoned entrepreneurs in the industry.”
It seems he has finally cracked the formula.
Sakhile Madonko has worked with a growing number of companies in the SADC region and partnered with the University of the Witwatersrand’s Development and Leadership Unit and consulted with over 80 students running businesses.
He employs four permanent staff and two consultants who regularly work with him, as well as interns who focus on analysis.
They have also launched an accelerator that helps students start and run viable businesses to help alleviate unemployment rates.
Madonko-Nderezina and his team hope to build 1,000 sustainable businesses by 2030. The Star named him one of the stars to watch for in 2018 alongside musician Sho Madjozi and other notable South Africans.
5. Isaac Mbatha, 28, South Africa
Founder and CEO: Sky Tents SA
When Isaac Mbatha was little, he used to sell sweets to his school mates to help his family. He now runs a tent business, empowering hundreds by donating tents, so they can hire them out for all occasions.
Born in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, Mbatha has always had a knack for entrepreneurship. His dad owned a taxi business, a fleet of trucks and a filling station.
Mbatha started his first taxi business, owning seven vehicles in four years. With all the money saved, in 2015, Mbatha invested in Sky Tents.
“The company’s portfolio is diversified as we also supply mobile chillers/freezers, mobile toilets, and chairs and tables for a variety of functions,” he says.
The company has grown from employing three people to 59 today.
Mbatha has international clients including in Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria, Algeria, Swaziland, Uganda, Lesotho, the Seychelles, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
He also strives to give back to the community.
In 2017, he gave away 100 tents to disadvantaged areas to give other prospective entrepreneurs an opportunity at success. Mbatha believes tents are a big business and will continue to aim high.
6. Sadaam Suleiman, 28, Kenya
Co-founder and Managing Director: DragonFly Limited
When Sadaam Suleiman was young, his dream was to own a car by the age of 20, and so he started to save towards it.
However, when he did reach his target amount, his mother advised him to invest the money and so he invested in a business.
In 2014, he registered DragonFly after noting a gap in the digital marketing field. It focuses on digital advertising, media, branding and public relations.
He rented a small corridor in Nairobi and converted it into an office with a staff of four, including himself.
Since then, the business has grown to a staff of 33 but on one condition; they have to wear comfortable crocs in the office, work hard and play hard.
DragonFly has worked with numerous brands including Nutella, LG and Sanlam.
Last year, Suleiman bagged a gold award at the Muse Creative Awards. The company’s star continues to rise.
“It has competed with multinationals and was recognized in 2017 as the eighth best agency in Kenya by the Association of Practitioners in Advertising,” he says.
Suleiman plans to open new offices in the East African region as well as invest in technology and innovation using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
In 2024, he plans to launch an incubation hub.
7. Adeniyi Omotayo, 28, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: Betensured Group
Adeniyi Omotayo used his $250 savings to bet on life and founded a business.
It was 2015 and sports betting in Nigeria had become a new craze.
“There was an influx of betting companies in the Nigerian market around that time to capitalize on this opportunity,” he says.
As a result, he started Betensured Group, a sports prediction service developed and tailored for the Nigerian market.
“This system or website simplified sports betting information and predictions in such a unique way that even the ‘uneducated’ sports betting player could now gather significant information on upcoming sporting events to place guided sports betting and significantly minimize avoidable losses,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
The bet paid off and Omotayo has been running Betensured for five years successfully.
They have over one million registered users from 70 countries. They also operate in eight different languages and have expanded to Kenya.
One of their biggest highlights was securing an advertising deal for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with Multichoice (DStv).
Omotayo currently has a team of 23 employees.
“We are on course to have a physical presence in at least 10 other African countries before the end of 2020. We intend to break into the Asian and European markets. We also have a future projection of sponsoring a major European team in the near future,” he says.
8. David Kyalo, 29, Kenya
Founder and CEO: Koncepts & Events Ltd
David Kyalo founded Koncepts & Events Ltd in 2014 while studying at Kenyatta University in Kenya.
Being a student leader in charge of events and entertainment at the university, Kyalo grew passionate about his role and decided to register a business.
At the time, he and his partner only had $15 to register the business and worked from one of the rooms at the university.
Their first project was to organize a kids’ festival-themed event.
The event took place; however, the clients had swindled Kyalo and his partner of over $2,000 because they did not sign a contract; a lesson well-learned for the young co-founders.
After that, they made sure to put in measures to bootstrap their business.
Koncepts & Events now specializes in event-planning, catering, marketing and public relations.
Since then, they have worked on over 80 events, 35 marketing projects and have won nine awards.
Some of the clients they have had include the World Bank Group and Red Cross.
Kyalo has seven full-time employees and over 10 on-contract employees, based on the magnitude of the project.
“[We want to] have more than 50% market share in Kenya in the next 10 years and be one of the best events and marketing companies in Africa in terms of profitability and quality delivery,” he says.
In one of his first features in a local Kenyan newspaper after the business started, Kyalo was asked if he had any won major awards yet.
He responded, “No major awards, not yet. But I should be on FORBES magazine soon”.
9. Ogechukwu Anugo-Obah, 28, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: BodyLikeMilk
If perseverance had a synonym, Ogechukwu Anugo-Obah would be it.
Having experienced abject poverty and dropping out of nursing school due to lack of finances, Anugo-Obah’s dreams were close to shattered.
However, through entrepreneurship, she was able to find meaning and money.
Because she was unable to afford basic skincare products, she decided to make her own with her last N1,000 ($3).
She packaged it and sold it to her first two clients in a small cup, for N2,500 ($7).
In a month, she ended up selling 50 cups of the cream.
She expanded her range from just skin care products to facial, hair, makeup and fragrances.
With the rise in demand, she soon started delivering her products outside of West Africa, including Dubai, Germany, the UK, Ireland, France and South Africa.
In 2017, she also ran online training classes to teach other women about skincare manufacturing.
Anugo-Obah has been nominated for over 10 awards.
She received the Promising Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2018 award at The Next Titan Nigeria Top 18 Young Entrepreneurs Awards.
“Our goal is to be one of the top 10 world-class skincare and cosmetics brands. [We want] to expand our training centers in Nigeria and Ghana, train and empower over 20,000 women by 2023,” she says.
10. Dorn Ndlovu, 26, South Africa
Founder and CEO: Entrepreneur Blue Print Africa
Dorn Ndlovu founded his company, Entrepreneur Blue Print Africa, while running it from his dining room table.
He contacted several prominent African-based companies for funding, however none were fruitful.
“Every door I knocked at, I was sadly turned away with soul-shattering responses as to why they could not rally around my idea,” he says.
As a result, in the first year, he did not make a single cent.
Thereafter, he targeted government institutions and SMEs and in 2016, received his big break from a shipping company, the South African Maritime Safety Authority.
His business has since grown registering a turnover of R1 million ($67,000) in 2017 and 2018.
Ndlovu’s passion for entrepreneurship has also seen him becoming the director of his brother’s company, It’s My Turn Trading And Projects CC, which specializes in engineering and construction.
He also became a shareholder in Joritans Logistics (Pty) Ltd, which deals with import and export of goods between Mozambique and South Africa.
When Ndlovu, who currently has 43 permanent employees, was asked what his long-term goal was, he said he plans to be on the cover of FORBES AFIRCA in 2020.
11. Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, 24, South Africa
Co-founder and Chief Executive: Tshimong
An activist in her maiden days, Pooe once organized a protest through the streets of Johannesburg with girls wearing miniskirts made of recycled materials, speaking truth to power.
It is this activist in her she continues to pursue even in her entrepreneurship journey. Last year, she famously shared the stage with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, former US president Barack Obama, former South African first lady Graça Machel and South African entrepreneur Patrice Motsepe at the 16th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture hosted in Johannesburg.
The likes of businessman Richard Branson, former UN Secretary-Generals Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan were seated among the 15,000 in the stadium as Pooe hosted the event, inspiring thousands.
She was 23 at that time; imagine how many more influential people she could be sharing the stage with in the next quarter of her life.
She is currently the co-founder of Tshimong, a social enterprise providing both the public and the private sector with services such as debating, public-speaking and leadership training programs in line with various social responsibility objectives.
Pooe is passionate about the youth, and together with her co-founder, have partnered with a number of organizations to empower 3,000 youth in the last two years.
They plan to create an academy and curriculum specializing in debate-training for South African youth. Using her voice as a tool and her entrepreneurship as her journey, she is well on her way to influencing more youth as a global activist.
“Debating is a powerful, but unrecognized tool, that is uniquely suited to prepare any child for the world that does not exist yet,” she says.
12. Sydney Sam, 26, Ghana
Founder and CEO: Workspace Global
In 2012, Sydney Sam taught himself graphic design, photography, videography and brand identity development to grow one of his first businesses, an underground live music and performance platform.
His work then caught the attention of other students, at the University of Ghana, who would seek his services and consultation to build their brands and products.
The exposure got him his first big client, UNICEF, in partnership with Publicis Africa Group.
By 2015, his business, Workspace Global, was up and running, from a humble Gh¢800 ($155) cash injection.
They specialize in graphic design, website design & development, print & branded materials, advertising, digital marketing (social media), photography and videography.
The business has grown internationally, with a team of 14 that operates digitally in various countries.
One of their major projects was for the World Bank in Washington DC to organize, brand and document the 2016 African Mining Legislation Atlas Conference in Accra. They later went on to shoot documentaries in Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.
“My grand vision for Workspace Global is to create a pan-African online digital service that offers the full range of branding & marketing services in an easy customer-centric web/mobile experience at the client’s fingertips,” says Sam.
Last year, Sam launched OPENSPACE, a platform that promotes business and development discourse among millennials. In under a year they have trained 700 people and held 10 events.
Sam’s vision is to serve his country, continent and create opportunities for its people.
13. Shirlene Nafula, 27, Kenya
Founder and CEO: Crystal River Products
Business Daily named her one of the top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya.
Never mind that, she was also recognized by the British High Commission among women leading British and Kenyan businesses in Kenya and across the Commonwealth countries.
At only 27, Shirlene Nafula has achieved this and more.
Four years ago, she founded Crystal River Products, a manufacturing company for bio-based beauty and hygiene products after mixing products from her parents’ dining room table.
Her company grew ten-fold and now she supplies her products to corporates and institutions including the office of the Deputy President of Kenya, William Samoei Ruto. Her products have been sold in Uganda and Tanzania.
Nafula, who is a scientist by profession, currently employs 21 people on an incentive model.
“In five years, we hope to have Crystal River Products having an established presence in Africa and in 20 years, have our products sold globally,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
14. Kgahlego Rasebotsa, 29, South Africa
Founder and Director: Interior Bubble
Kgahlego Rasebotsa is a self-taught interior designer who went from selling scatter cushions in pop-up stores in Polokwane, South Africa, to designing offices for government officials.
After suffering depression from not being able to secure a job, entrepreneurship became her shining light when she started her interior design company three years ago.
Interior Bubble manufactures a range of office and home furniture and specializes in interior décor.
“My biggest highlight within my business definitely has to be the part where I get to transform clients’ houses into beautiful homes with our own handcrafted furniture pieces. Seeing the look on their faces always lights me up inside and motivates us to do better with our next job.”
Rasebotsa currently employs eight people and plans to open a new furniture store this year to showcase her interior décor and designs.
One of her biggest clients has been the Limpopo Economic Development Agency.
Her mission is to become a top furniture supplier to luxury homes in Africa.
15. Kimani Adam, 29, Kenya
Co-founder and CEO: Nature Expeditions Destination Management
When Zimbabwean billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa, spoke to a group of graduates in 2015 at the Hult International Business School in the US, Kimani Adam was in the crowd. With ears and a mind wide open and eager to learn, Adam was inspired by Masiyiwa’s speech about starting your entrepreneurial journey now.
Without hesitation, Adam went on to start his own company in Kenya.
Using his personal savings and third-party angel capital, he founded Nature Expeditions Destination Management in 2015.
It is an African tour and photographic safari operator with offices in Rwanda, Seychelles, Mauritius, the US, Morocco, Uganda and Tanzania, with signed partnership deals in Asia and Canada.
The company worked in conjunction with his family business that was failing at the time, called Nature Expeditions Africa.
“I created a global expansion proposal to the board of the group, who were comprised of well respected ‘old school’ veterans in the hospitality industry; however, they didn’t believe in my proposal and rejected it,” he says.
He challenged them and implemented that proposal to create his global enterprise. His goal is to become an “industry powerhouse in the Africa and global photographic tour operator space”.
16. Ijeoma Balogun, 29, Nigeria
Founder and Managing Director: RedrickPR
At 19, Ijeoma Balogun became the style editor of Nigeria’s largest entertainment and lifestyle blog Bella Naija and won Fashion Journalist of the Year at the 2011 Fab Awards.
She has since been destined for greatness.
With the encouragement of her then boss, Uche Pedro, she decided to venture into public relations and founded her own company, RedrickPR in 2012.
“I started the company from home, in my dad’s study, with zero employees, zero funds, just my laptop and grand ideas to change the PR landscape in Nigeria,” she says.
Today, her team has grown to four.
Her company specializes in designing and executing strategic integrated campaigns, to support enterprises and startups to innovate, accelerate and grow.
They have worked with numerous clients including Viber, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, the Federal Ministry of Communication & Technology, Jumia Nigeria, MAC Cosmetics and Coca-Cola.
One of her biggest achievements was in 2016; Balogun brokered a strategic partnership with Celebrity Services Africa, which offered her company the opportunity to represent local and multinational companies globally.
She also founded Redrick Accelerate Workshops, a platform that has impacted over 150 people, so far, through free workshops and training to improve employability.
17. Bright Jaja, 29, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: iCreate Africa
Bright Jaja’s drive has always been to improve the skills of young Africans who could not afford education.
So, in 2016, while studying, he set up a summer school to teach students garment-making, bead-making, art, make-up design, graphic design, 3D animation, web design, cooking and music, at no cost.
As a result, iCreate Africa, a social enterprise, was born with the aim of becoming the face of skills in Africa.
He and his team were invited to attend the 44th edition of the WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 along with members from 77 countries and 53 skill-sets.
From he learned there, he modeled iCreate Africa to promote skills in Africa.
The company grew to hosting one of Africa’s biggest technical and vocational skills competitions, the iCreate Skill Fest.
It is a two-day skills competition that features 84 competitors from West Africa competing in 14 skill categories such as brick-laying, plumbing, carpentry, tailoring, hair-dressing and more.
Jaja says over 80,000 people have been impacted by the program and they have managed to secure contracts with companies.
“We rebranded the image of technical skills for everyone to be willing to become part of the skill eco-system we created,” he says.
His team consists of 10 full-time staff and over 1,000 volunteers.
This year, Jaja plans to launch iCreate Skill Hub, training centers and an app to connect skill services to clients across Africa.
18. Jesse Carlton Happy Ndongo, 27, Cameroon
General Manager: Easy Group
From meetings in internet cafes to running a successful marketing company, Jesse Carlton Happy Ndongo has proven you can start a business from anywhere.
The Cameroonian is the General Manager of Easy Group, an events agency that operates in Central Africa providing marketing, events, print and audio-visual solutions.
In the last three years, Ndongo and his team have overseen over 1,000 events across Central Africa.
He employs 107 full-time employees and 1,000 part-time. But ‘General Manager’ is not the only title to his name. He is also an entrepreneur, philanthropist, writer and speaker.
In 2013, he started carltonsmilecharity.org, aimed at bridging the gap between the generous and needy.
“After a year, the organization had impacted about 1,000 orphans, with over 100 volunteers in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Gabon and Cameroon,” he says.
Two years later, he published his first book The What, Why and How of Charity.
“The funds raised from the book sales helped assist about 300 widows and orphans with supplies in food and books. Today, we continue to work with 100 orphans to enable them to obtain their A-levels (matric) next year,” he says.
As Cameroon is gearing up to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021, Ndongo says he plans to drive innovation, partnerships and investments to ensure that by then, Cameroon provides Africa with a memorable experience.
About his FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 profile, he quips: “If this was my autobiography, it would be titled ‘We Have A Continent To Build’.”
19. Henrich Akomolafe, 26, Nigeria
Co-founder and Managing Director: Akotex Nigeria Limited
It’s easy to see why Henrich Akomolafe’s business is on the rise.
Alongside his dad, he co-founded one of the leading elevator manufacturing companies for high-rise buildings in Nigeria when he was only eight years old. He served as one of the board of directors.
However, as he grew up, the business began to decline.
Inspired by his dad’s entrepreneurial spirit, he went on to look after the business once he completed his master’s degree in Spain.
He changed his career in computer engineering to elevator manufacturing to better understand the business features and functionality.
In 2016, he took over the business as Managing Director and took it up several notches.
“Armed with a better knowledge of the product and a dogged zeal to get the company back on its feet, I was determined to succeed,” he says.
He negotiated deals with manufacturers in Spain, marketed the business and met with investors.
In less than three years, Akomolafe succeeded and is one of the youngest in the industry.
Akotex bagged national projects with the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and others. The staff grew from 20 to 80 employees, all under the age of 40.
Akomolafe then founded BNR Engineering, a real estate and construction company that provides flexible payment plans and options such as digital currency. He plans to uplift the continent as he continues to innovate.
20. Lesego Mokae, 29, South Africa
Co-founder: Ditsogo Projects
Lesego Mokae is a woman of steel, literally.
She currently runs a 100% black female-owned engineering company that specializes in metal fabrication, plant maintenance and steel products supply.
Mokae started the business with her co-founder, Tebogo Mosito, from her garage in Maile, a small area in Rustenburg, South Africa, known for mining.
“I remember when we were visited by one of the mine representatives, we were told we need to be professional if we wanted to make it in business,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
Those words stuck.
Her business now services six mines: Impala Platinum, Bushveld Vametco, Electro Hydro World, Pilanesberg Platinum Mine, AngloAmerican Platinum and Royal Bafokeng Platinum.
Her business was a national finalist at the Productivity Awards for Most Improved SME in the Emerging Sector category.
Mokae plans to grow the business and have four branches around South Africa in the next three years.
In the next three years, she also plans to enrol 30 learners for internship and learnership programs in the business.
21. Oginni Tolulope, 29, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: Transfurd Limited
Oginni Tolulope founded an agricultural company after being unemployed for many months.
With the belief that agriculture is capable of eradicating poverty and hunger, his company provides agricultural development, management service, farm setting up, farm land leasing and sales, and youth empowerment.
Tolulope currently owns 50 hectares of land in three different states where he plants, processes and packages crops such as rice, maize and cassava.
Last year, his company made the list of the top 100 emerging SMEs in Nigeria by Connect Nigeria and the year before, he received an award for the most promising Agro Business of the Year 2017 by Teras Realtors and Homes Limited.
This year, Tolulope was appointed Vice President of the World Food Program at the Ghana International Model United Nations Conference.
He plans on creating greener pastures for all.
“My plan is very simple. For my food processing business, I want to have my processing plants across the 36 states of Nigeria which can employ over 1,000 citizens in each state.
“On the empowerment scheme, we plan to have empowered 5,000 farmers cutting across the rural farmers, youths and junior level students by year 2030,” he says.
22. Theo Baloyi, 29, South Africa
Founder and CEO: Bathu Swag
Theo Baloyi took a step in the right direction when he started his business in 2015 from his room in the Alexandra township of South Africa.
With a savings of R250,000 ($17,363) from his previous job, Baloyi founded a proudly African sneaker brand called Bathu Swag.
“I wanted to start something inspiring and sustainable for my brothers and sisters in the township. Today, we employ 31 people and 17 of those are from Alexandra,” he says.
The sneakers have breathable material and come in an assortment of colors such as red, orange and yellow.
Some have the distinct branding marks with streaks of colors on the sole of the shoes.
Baloyi’s aim was not to be a fashion brand but rather a shoe retail brand.
Bathu currently has three stores and plans to open seven more by April next year.
“We want to penetrate the SADC region in the next two years and Central Africa in the next five years, and East Africa in 10 years,” says the ambitious 29-year-old.
Since its inception, the company has grown 2,136%.
This year, the company won the Young Entrepreneur Award at the 6th Annual South African Premier Business Awards.
Baloyi plans to take this proudly township-founded shoe to the world one step at a time.
23. Avthar Aniruth, 21, South Africa
Founder and Executive Producer: Audience Networks
Avthar Aniruth is a self-taught director, video creator, editor and entrepreneur from the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.
Growing up, he spent days watching YouTube videos, researching and discovering global trends that hadn’t reached South African soil.
He used his family camcorder and started making small videos and his passion grew.
He made money from odd jobs at weddings and functions and would sometimes work for free.
That’s when he had the idea to create his own video content with local appeal. He founded Epic Videos, now known as Audience Networks.
The company specializes in the creation of digital and video content for advertising and marketing.
They are currently a team of five and have worked with clients such as Virgin Active, Coca-Cola, Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom, and Defy.
In 2018, he attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in the United States to learn from experts in the video and broadcasting industry; ticking off one of the dreams from his bucket list.
With some of the insights from NAB, he built a green screen studio from scratch and created an online TV show called Eat 101 where South African restaurants are reviewed.
At only 21 years old, his company has signed contracts with major broadcast companies such as SABC 1, 2 and 3, DStv and M-Net.
Aniruth plans to become a major supplier of Netflix content, grow throughout Africa and become a multi-billion dollar business.
“[Our plan is] to stay relevant and be seen as a global leader. We were faced with many technical problems, but we do whatever it takes, to learn, troubleshoot and overcome any challenges,” he says.
24. Barbara Okereke, 28, Nigeria
Cake Designer, Founder and Managing Director: Oven Secret Limited
Barbara Okereke’s story is nothing short of sweet.
Instead of coming for a slice of life, she is coming for the whole cake.
In 2015, she registered for cake-baking and decorating training at Fair Cake, a premier cake school in London.
By September that year, she returned to Nigeria and her business officially kicked off in the southern part of Nigeria in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Her life-like cakes will have the average eye doing a double take. Okereke says she always had a flair for art and craft such as drawing and sketching.
But she never thought her talent would be the cherry on top for her business.
“Weirdly, I never really thought about cake-designing at first, until the day I came across a clip on YouTube by Yolanda Gampp, a Canada-based cake designer. Her works were amazing and so realistic, that I spent the whole day watching her videos and downloading a few on my phone,” she says.
Despite being a cake boss, Okereke holds an MBA in Oil and Gas Management which, she says, allowed her to have a versatile and open mind.
She says she plans to offer online training for students who have an interest in cake decorating.
“[I plan to] be the most sought-after cake business by 2023.”
Her business grew by 91% in revenue from 2016 to 2018. Imagine the growth in the next few years.
25. Jessica Anuna, 27, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: Klasha
Jessica Anuna was named by Management Today as one of their 35 Women Under 35 to watch, and the US embassy in London named her as one of its global leaders.
She owns an online fashion empire called Klasha. It is a platform for fast fashion retailers serving millennials in Africa.
Featured as one of FORBES WOMAN AFRICA’s New Wealth Creators in March, Anuna founded Klasha in 2017 with an investment of $120,000 from Techstars Dubai, an international startup accelerator, funding and mentorship organization.
After living in China at age 23, she grew up admiring how they did business and decided to do the same in her country.
Anuna currently employs a team of six women, all under the age of 27.
Her platform allows fashion buyers to buy items with the South African rand, Nigeria naira, Kenyan shillings, Ghanaian cedi and three international currencies, with a delivery time of one to five days.
“I do believe Africa has the power to change and be a force economically…” she says.
Anuna, who can speak fluent French and Mandarin, plans to grow the company global.
26. Charles Edosomwan, 29, Nigeria
Founder and Chief Strategist: TekSight Edge Limited
Charles Edosomwan is a qualified computer scientist, digital marketer and holds an MBA in strategy management, so he decided to merge all these skills to start a business in public relations.
In 2014, he founded, TekSight Edge Ltd, a technology PR firm in Nigeria.
Since then, his company grew from strength to strength.
They now also operate in Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda, with a total of 32 staff.
His biggest year yet was 2017.
That year, Edosomwan and the Kenyan TekSight team won the USAID Kenya Electoral Assistant Program and built a digital platform to support the judicial process for the election.
“This was a massive progress for the team and placed TekSight as a credible brand alongside other global PR brands,” he says.
Last year, he founded another company called Askifa.ng, a news brand aimed at helping people understand technology better.
Through the platform Edosomwan invested approximately N6,000,000 ($16,584) to promote poetry and technology which gave rise to the birth of a spoken word hangout called Demystifying Technology, a monthly space for students and spoken word artists to compete for a money prize.
Edosomwan says he aims to leave a positive and lasting impression in the African tech space.
27. Charmaine Mbatha, 29, South Africa
Co-founder: Millennial Business Administrators
Resigning from her job was a carefully-calculated risk.
Charmaine Mbatha was making a safe transition from employee to entrepreneur.
She founded Millennial Business Administrators, a company providing services for startups, organizations and personal brands on virtual assistance, editing and writing, content development, and speaking. It is a magazine that promotes, inspires, educates and celebrates global women of color for their achievements in life and business.
“It was clear I had to jump without a parachute, by far the most liberating decision and also the most painful journey. Being an overachiever all my life, I’d not known failure and loss until I became a business owner,” she reflects.
The company later traded as The Grit Media to make way for two publications currently known as Her Grit Magazine and His Grit Magazine.
Both publications reach a global audience in over 52 countries, sharing inspiring stories.
One of her greatest highlights was working alongside JT Foxx, a wealth and business coach.
She also had the opportunity to attend his event Mega Success in Los Angeles with over 2,500 global entrepreneurs and prominent personalities like Mel Gibson, Steve Wozniak, Jessica Simpson, and Dr Phil.
Mbatha says her goal is to create more small business owners than employees.
“I don’t have a single employee, I hire people who are freelancers or have small businesses; endorsing a culture of flexibility, innovation and financial independence.”
28. Shaney Vijendranath, 28, South Africa
Co-founder and CEO: Vimage Media
When Shanéy Vijendranath became a mother at 21, she found motherhood to be a lonely journey as some of her friends were not parents yet.
As a result, she found it difficult to access information on motherhood and baby care and so she went on to start her own platform that answered all the questions she had.
She co-founded Vimage Media with her husband, which has two brands under it; You, Baby and I and MomSays.
In 2016, Vijendranath made her first mark in the blogging community when she won the Kids Emporium’s mommy bloggers competition for her platform: You, Baby and I.
“The You, Baby and I blog is about a young mom’s journey through motherhood and the little bumps along the way. The aim of the blog is to share real stories, connect moms to amazing brands and get the conversation going,” she says.
It was named Africa’s Most Influential Parenting Blog in 2016 by Webfluential and Best Parenting Blog in 2017 at the South African Blog Awards.
The growth in her first blog led her to starting her second, called MomSays, a data analytics platform helping brands engage with new moms using the collective knowledge of over thousands of experienced mothers in South Africa.
In 2018, Vijendranath was the only entrepreneur chosen from South Africa to represent the country at the Collective Global Accelerator program in London.
She plans to introduce e-commerce and AI on MomSays, which could help mothers earn an extra income doing what they love – selling and recommending products and services.
29. Adetola Nola, 28, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: Veritasi Properties Limited
Adetola Nola sold shoes before he found his feet in the real estate business.
He was scouted by a real estate agent from Grenadine Homes, in Nigeria, who thought his shoe-selling skills were impeccable.
Nola then joined the team and went from selling footwear to homes.
“I made my first sale in the eighth month,” he tells
As a result, he received a lot of exposure, traveled and learned not only to sell houses but also land and real estate projects.
This encouraged him to start his own company, Veritasi Properties Limited, with money he made selling equipment from his shoe business and the two cars he owned.
“I started Veritasi because I realized that most of the real estate companies that I was launching projects for, just wanted to make money instead of offering value. I felt we could do better and create employment opportunities for people,” he says.
They provide real estate investment, development and marketing services.
To date, Veritasi has sold properties such as Star City Gardens, Camberwell Estates in Eleko, which is known for its luxury estates. In less than two years, Nola says they made over N2 billion ($5,56 million).
From a business that started with one staff member, Nola has grown it to 18 full-time staff, 1,300 Veritasi realtors and over 12,000 real estate consultants.
30. Caleb Stephen David, 27, South Africa
Founder and CEO: Versatile Commodity Traders
“From flipping burgers at Steers, to selling insurance policies and everything in between. I never imagined that I would be one of the youngest fuel wholesalers and entrepreneurs in the industry,” says a stunned Caleb Stephen David.
While working as a financial advisor, he was approached by a client to sell fuel part-time.
Fascinated by the fuel industry, David then decided to start his own business and Versatile Commodity Traders was established.
When he turned 24, he received his wholesale license to sell fuel, and threw himself in the deep end, quit his job as financial advisor and began learning the ropes.
It took him a year to sell his first liter of fuel but today, David has built a company which sells 7 million liters a month.
They currently trade petroleum products, diesel, jet fuel, paraffin to South Africa and neighboring countries such as Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
“My vision for Versatile Commodity Traders is to be the largest independent-owned fuel wholesale company in South Africa for local and export distribution,” he says.