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#30Under30: Business Category 2019

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


The list is in no particular order:

Bruce Diale, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

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.

Terence Mathe, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Mariam Manack, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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).

Khanyisile Madonko-Nderezina, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Isaac Mbatha, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Sadaam Suleiman, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Adeniyi Omotayo, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

David Kyalo, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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”.

Ogechukwu Anugo-Obah, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Dorn Ndlovu, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

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.

Sydney Sam, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Shirlene Nafula, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Kgahlego Rasebotsa, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Kimani Adam, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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”.

Ijeoma Balogun, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Bright Jaja, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Jesse Carlton Happy Ndongo, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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’.”

Henrich Akomolafe, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Lesego Mokae, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Oginni Tolulope, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Theo Baloyi, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Avthar Aniruth, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Barbara Okereke, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Jessica Anuna, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Charles Edosomwan, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Charmaine Mbatha, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.”

Shaney Vijendranath, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Adetola Nola, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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

FORBES AFRICA.

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.

Caleb Stephen David, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied

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.

Cover Story

Forbes Africa #30Under30 List: Leading The Charge

Published

on

As 2020 ushers in a new decade and a new set of daunting challenges for the world – climate change, the coronavirus – it’s all the more imperative that the world’s youngest continent rises to the crises and sees opportunities where there seem to be none. These are the men and women forging ahead with credible, creative and profound strategies to shape our tomorrow. Celebrating six years of the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list, they are the continent’s revolutionary thinkers revitalizing ideas and industries with fresh business models and innovative leadership.

Over 3,000 nominations flooded into our inboxes and landed on our desks from the start of 2020 for this Under 30 list. And the mammoth task? Whittling it down to 30 names.

While last year, we had 120 in total, with 30 finalists each in the categories of business, technology, sports and arts, this year, we chose to stay with 30: the best of the best spanning all industries. Our youngest list-maker this year is just 16!

In a continent pregnant with opportunities, and at a time a virus pandemic grips the world, young people are the only hope. They are able to step in to offer new and innovative solutions for the problems confronting Africa.

And big business salutes their potential.

“Leaving an ordinary career path to start something new and original is difficult and lonely, and success is not linear. Making the list must also be an incredible encouragement to the brave young people who’ve struck out on their own,” says Fran Luckin, Chief Creative Officer at Grey Africa, a global advertising giant. The odds stacked against them are great, such as access to funding and institutional and historical inequalities that mean there’s probably very little family wealth or savings for the average young entrepreneur to draw on, adds Luckin.

“If you look at the development from youth-owned businesses and those featured on the 30 Under 30 list, you will realize that Africa has amazing potential,” says Ashok Gupta, Chairman & Founder of Kalyan Group, a diversified business with portfolios in hospitality and agriculture based in Togo.

In the following pages, this is what we will see: the potential of Africa’s future and the people who will lead us.

The list is in no particular order.

Methodology

In drawing up the 2020 list, we sifted through piles of nominations that came in from across Africa, even the remotest corners. Through robust reporting and vigorous vetting, harnessing the experience of our editorial teams across Africa; with extensive research, studies of databases and media coverage; and also delving into the knowledge of our team of external judges, we evaluated the nominees to arrive at a long-list of 100 names, before short-listing to the 30 changing the face of business and society today. We have only considered for selection those who were under the age of 30 as of March 31, 2020. We have also discovered many more to ‘watch out for’ and who will be featured on this list in the years to come. For the 2020 list, FORBES AFRICA partnered once 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. But it’s not all about the money. Some of the qualities FORBES AFRICA looks for in the leaders of tomorrow are that they are passionate, innovative, impactful, pioneering and are real hustlers of the African growth story. The list also examines their resilience, strength and ability to turn around their enterprise or careers. At the time of going to press, all facts on the following pages were verified to be correct.


External judges:

Business: Lwandile Qokweni,

CEO, Wavewaker

Technology: Teboho Mofokeng, Founder, Bowfica

Sports: Carol Tshabalala, Sportscaster

Arts: Yvette Gayle, Partner and Head of Communications and Engagement,

Africa Creative Agency

Audit Partner: SNG Grant Thornton


Bako Ambianda, 29, Cameroon

Founder, Chairman and CEO, Labacorp Group of Companies

Industry: Diversified holdings

At only 29, Bako Ambianda is an international development expert, author, speaker, philanthropist and entrepreneur.

Over the years, he has successfully built an empire. His business acumen was evident from his high school days, when he would pick mangoes, avocados, and bananas from his backyard at home and sell them in his school’s dormitory for a profit.

After high school, he moved to the US in 2011 to further his studies and began a career in diplomacy at the Maryland State House.

While there, he started his first company with only $850.

Global Attain Advancement is an events organization company, the first instalment to the Labacorp Group.

Through the company, he was exposed to learning the tricks and trades of organizing events and found himself a part of the organizing team for former president, Barack Obama’s Energy Congress.

He later returned to Africa to develop the business and launch other entities.

“When I launched Labacorp Group, I set out a mission that all operations of the group will be rooted in the ‘Afri-developism’ economic concept that I created because I wanted to work relentlessly toward contributing to the development of Africa inspired by the ‘Afri-developism’ concept,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Today, the Labacorp group has grown from just housing an events organizing team to owning businesses across manufacturing, power, construction, agribusiness, and exhibition sectors with operations in six countries with 79 employees, and a footprint in Africa, Middle East and North America.

With the offices headquartered in Ghana, Labacorp Industries Limited and a South Korea-based company are setting up a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle waste recycling plant in the country to produce high value-added products such as polyester, staple fiber and geotextile from PET bottle waste.

He has won numerous awards including the Global Business Disruptor 2018 Award by Professional Association of Young Africans (PAYA) and Africa Business Leadership Excellence Award 2018 by African Leadership Magazine.

Gift Sukez, 27, Malawi

Founder and Director, HD Plus Creation Company Limited

Industry: VIDEO Production

Bob Phondo, a notable brand manager in Malawi’s marketing and communications industry, recalls a memory of Gift Sukez in the early days of his business in 2013.

He was seen with nothing but a camera, working from a backroom focusing on where his passion would take him.

Using borrowed cameras, lights and computers, Sukez was able to save up enough to buy his own HD Camera which cost $300.

With the flash of a camera, the picture became clear and HD Plus Creation Company Limited was born, offering media consultancy services and video content creation.

“The passion I had for creative visuals fueled me to work very hard every day and it eventually paid off in 2016 when I managed to register the company and with time, the demand for my services grew,” Sukez tells FORBES AFRICA.

Today, Sukez owns two offices and a video production department and employs up to 18 staff.

“It could be argued that Gift is the best at what he does in Malawi,” says Phondo.

One of Sukez’s most early notable work was when he worked with Akon, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Jah Prayzah and P-Square to produce and direct the making of the 2017 African leaders for change theme song, The Song for Africa.

His company has also produced content for organizations such as UN Malawi, UNICEF and Standard Bank.

The biggest highlight of the business was when they worked on a film directed by Mark Spencer titled Whistleblower shot in Australia, Japan and Malawi.

Last year, they also took part in shooting and working on set for two Australian movies, The Drover’s Wife and Fallout.

Sukez plans to take his knowledge working internationally to produce quality content for Malawians.

“Malawi lacks so much in terms of technology, as a result, we fail to have the right connections and network to help boost the business internationally, but we try with the little capacity we have,” he says. “When I look at my future and the company, my vision is to employ more than 1,000 young people by 2030 in Africa and this includes actors, scriptwriters, directors, producers, cameramen, just to mention a few.”

Thobo Khathola, 28, Botswana

Founder, Managing Director and CEO, Lion Tutoring

Industry: Education technology

It all began in 2015. After his experience as a university student tutor, Thobo Khathola was keen on improving the pass rates of students in Botswana.

So he started operating from the boot of his car in his parents’ home to offer tutoring services to youth in Botswana.

Shortly after, he took loans from friends and family and it paid off.

“One happy client from my church turned into two. Two happy clients turned into 10. Ten became 100 and now we enrol more than 1,000 clients each year,” he says.

Khathola founded Lion Tutoring which he says works like the ‘Uber for tutors’. He now owns offices in Botswana and South Africa.

“I have always been passionate about education and bothered by the declining pass rate of academics in my country and in Africa as a whole. I managed to gain experience and identified a niche,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Lion Tutoring takes advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by engaging clients through their e-commerce platform and mobile application.

Since inception, Lion Tutoring has employed over 300 staff.

The business has won three awards for three consecutive years from 2017, named the Best Youth Owned Business in Botswana at The Botswana Youth Awards and The Palapye Business Awards.

Khathola was listed in the Botswana Stock Exchange’s publication as one of the Top Youth Entrepreneurs to look out for. He was also named one of the Top 30 Most Influential Youth in Botswana by Botswana Youth Magazine.

Khathola has also founded the Lion Tutoring Community Based Project which provides assistance to communities such as the SOS Children’s home, Childline and Mogonye Primary school.

Khathola plans to branch into more African countries.

Tony Mautsu, 27, Botswana

Founder and Managing Director, Social Light

Industry: Digital solutions

Tony Mautsu was born 30 kilometers away from the capital city of Botswana, Gaborone. He grew up in a small village called Mochudi and could not speak English very well.

But from the age of 10, he learned very quickly how to stand out.

Growing up in school, he sold sweets, chips, compact discs and airtime, unknowingly honing his entrepreneurial spirit.

While volunteering at a marathon in 2014, he used social media to generate inspirational quotes and respond to inquiries. This earned him the description of “that social media guy”.

“When I was done with the marathon, I got to work turning this newly-discovered niche into a fully-fledged business. The Social Light, the light that leads corporations into this tricky unknown platform of social media,” he says.

Social Light is geared towards introducing cutting edge-tech services to assist companies position their brands and acquire in-depth information on client sentiments through big data mining and monitoring tools in Botswana.

They offer services such as video animation, graphic designing, content creation, HD-live streaming, application management and social media management.

One of their biggest highlights was when they were commissioned to work with the 2017 Global Expo Botswana, which hosted founder of Virgin Group, business magnate and billionaire Richard Branson.

Last year, they worked with the Youth Town Hall Meeting organized by the Botswana Government which featured telecom giant, Strive Masiyiwa.

The business has grown 750% in the last year, he attests.

Uzair Essack, 27, South Africa

Founder and Managing Director, CapeCrops

Industry: Agriculture, Logistics

Uzair Essack has his roots deep in the fruit and vegetable business.

He is the founder and managing director of CapeCrops, an export business that sells fruits and vegetables sourced from South Africa to the rest of Africa and international markets such as Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

With no background in agriculture, Essack invested his savings to start the business and has managed to build a company which went from earning R500,000 ($30,515) revenue in 2015 to R34 million ($2 million) in 2019.

Some of his clients include major supermarket chains such as Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Tesco and Carrefour and he recently opened an office in Dubai.

Essack employs a staff of 13 and indirectly employs thousands who contribute to farming, cold chain and logistics.

He is also the founder and president of GetGiving, a non-profit company that aims to benefit the community through projects which include food-hamper drives, sanitary drives, stationary drives and careers days.

Essack won the Minara Young Entrepreneur Award in 2019.

“We firmly believe that African fruit and veg is amongst the most wholesome, healthy and flavorsome on the planet and we’re passionate about helping our clients all over the world to showcase it on the global stage,” he says.

Baraka Daniel Kiranga, 29, Tanzania

Founder and Director, Hamasa Media Group

Industry: Digital Media

Baraka Daniel Kiranga started his business with a mere $20 in 2014 while pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree at the Institute of Finance Management in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

With a friend, he bought a template for an online magazine, designed it, and wrote inspirational stories of young entrepreneurs and change-makers in the country.

Impressed by his initiative, Kiranga received a small contribution from his father and friends to register the business with the magazine as his first product.

For seven months, he worked on bootstrapping the business.

Since then, Kiranga has not looked back and the business has grown by 449%.

With a team of 11, the company now offers media consultancy services to clients such as WHO-Tanzania, NGOs, news outlets and journalists.

In August this year, they plan to launch an art media lab to provide innovative media solutions such as strategy training, media monitoring, cloud computing and digital security services.

Last year, Kiranga was awarded a trophy by the National Training Institute of Egypt during an Arab African development forum in Egypt for his involvement in promoting youth development in Africa.

“Don’t lose your focus when you are subjected to the heat of financial instability. It is working for the betterment of your business; at the end of the day, you will emerge on the other side of the valley and say it was better it happened,” he says.

Hamasa is a business consultancy on digital media management and data technologies in producing data-driven stories.

Newman Tshepo Ramatokwane, 29, Botswana

Founder of Native Stretch Tents

and Canopies (pty) Ltd

Industry: Events

Most people would have given up after dropping out of college twice, but not Newman Tshepo Ramatokwane.

“Go against the grain,” he says. This was a clear goal Ramatokwane set for himself when he started his upward-bound career.

Born in the capital city of Botswana, Gaborone, he was groomed in a business-orientated family.

Thus, the drive for entrepreneurship was grilled into him from a tender age.

During his primary school years, Ramatokwane made money selling his art drawings to his colleagues and he would polish his sister’s shoes for a fee.

“At the age of sixteen, I came across a financial literacy book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, it was then that my entrepreneurial spirit was unleashed,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

It was in 2013 that he decided to found his own business – Native Stretch Tents and Canopies now trading as Native Event – from a one-bedroom house.

The company initially hired out stretch tents only, but with the rapid growth, they began manufacturing furniture.

Ramatokwane also invested in a mobile bar service, transport and logistics, and in an accounting firm.

“I come from a country where entrepreneurship is not generally taught or pursued.

“We have a culture that never believed that one can become an entrepreneur at a young age and actually succeed at it,” he says.

By 2015, his company won the local Global Expo’s 2015 and 2016 Best Small Medium Enterprise recognition.

In 2018, Ramatokwane moved the business into a 1,000sqm warehouse providing more services such as event consultation, planning and management.

Since then, the company has executed over 300 events, including the Southern African Inter Revenue Games, De Beers Diamond Week 2019, the Presidential Inauguration 2019 and the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation V-Sat Launch.

He currently employs 20 full-time staff and about 10 part-time contract staff.

Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, 24, Uganda

Founder and Executive Director of

Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab

Industry: Artificial intelligence in medicine

At only 24, Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa is an entrepreneur with a background in the medical field.

She is also a cancer survivor.

But she would rather you call her an entrepreneur, she expresses, as she arrives for the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 photoshoot in Johannesburg, straight from the airport, after flying in from Uganda.

Her company Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab was founded out of both passion and personal experience.

When she was 13, she lost her mother to cervical cancer. Kaliisa’s mother had one last wish.

“She called for me from school and when I reached the Uganda Cancer Institute, my mother told me ‘my daughter, study hard and become a doctor and look for a way to extend services to women like your mother who lacked key screening services in our villages’,” Kaliisa recounts.

Those last words sank in and the young Kaliisa vowed to fulfil her mother’s dream.

But things took a different turn.

During her second year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery, she felt an unusual pain in one of her breasts. She got it tested and the results returned positive.

“Luckily, it was still in its early stages. I was treated, though I lost one of my breasts [to mastectomy] as a way to save the rest of me,” she says.

These experiences led to her founding a company in 2017 to offer mobile cancer screening, which later incorporated the use of artificial intelligence guided e-oncology services (to detect cervical and breast cancer). Today, her company also incorporates drone services for easier transportation of cervical cancer specimens from the rural areas to laboratories without women having to travel long distances out of the villages.

Kaliisa, who locals refer to as “mama cancer”, is a winner of the Takeda Young Entrepreneur Award 2018, Young African Entrepreneur Award 2018, Social Impact Finalist AWIEF Awards 2018, has received an Honourable Mention at the Maathai Impact Award 2019, and was chosen among the top 10 artificial intelligence companies founded in Africa by Google for start-ups.

She has also been endorsed by the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Kaliisa continues to make strides in the field of cancer screening. Packing up her things after the photoshoot with us, she heads back to the airport for her flight home.

It’s business as usual for this young woman on a mission to help women in villages survive cancer like she did.

Lloyd Harris, 23, South Africa

Tennis player

Industry: Sports

Nicknamed ‘The King’ in the South Africa Davis Cup team, at only 22, Lloyd Harris is currently South Africa’s second ranked tennis player behind Kevin Anderson.

The young Cape Town-born player found his feet at the age of three when he picked up his first racket. Following in the footsteps of his mother, who would play at a tennis club, by the age of four, Harris was already able to serve from the baseline.

When other 10-year-olds were riding bicycles and playing video games, Harris was competing in the Under 10 World Cup in Croatia, his first game on an international stage.

This was the beginning of his tennis career.

In 2014, he became the first-ever South African to represent South Africa at the Youth Olympics in 2014.

But it wasn’t always easy.

Harris and his family sacrificed everything to ensure he reached a professional level.

And in 2018, Harris endured a devastating loss.

At the eleventh hour, while preparing for a match, he received news that his father passed away.

Harris did not react well to the news.

Waves of unimaginable pain shot down his spine, making it difficult for him to play.

“It was an eye-opener that changed my world. He was incredibly proud of me and my tennis. I lay in bed, cried all day, had no idea whether or not I should play. I was ready to get on the next plane home and then decided to stay and play for my father. I won two tournaments, in two weeks,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Harris’s decision to continue to play for his father brought him more triumph. In 2018, he was nominated as an alternate for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

He also represented South Africa at the Davis Cup as the number one player in seven ties with a win-to-loss record of 11-4.

Last year, he qualified for his second Grand Slam main draw at a senior men’s singles level and he reached the 100th spot in the ATP Rankings, cracking the top 100 for the first time in his career.

“I think that as South Africans, we need to have a lot of belief and support to get far on the ATP Tour. Where I come from, nobody has really, for so many years, made it from South Africa. The last one was maybe Wayne Ferreira. It’s hard to believe we can actually do everything from South Africa,” he says.

“I still have plenty of time on the tour and only have to look at Roger Federer, who is still playing at 38 and remains at the top of his game, to gain inspiration. I still have many years to go and we are just focused on the process at the moment.”

DJ Cuppy, 27, Nigeria

DJ, Founder and Director, Red Velvet Music Group

Industry: Entertainment

Many had high expectations for Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola to follow in her family’s oil business and become an oil trader.

Her life was a set stage from the day she was born.

Dancing to the tune, she pursued a degree in economics and management.

“I was convinced my plan was to make lots of money and be the next Femi Otedola!” she tells FORBES AFRICA

But the young Nigerian longed to pursue the arts.

As a teen, she performed at local parties, events and in front of crowds filled with youthful energy.

It was one gig here and another there, honing her skills until she became the reputed DJ she is now.

Otedola now goes by the name ‘DJ Cuppy’ and has become one of Nigeria’s most accomplished DJs, always identified by her trademark pink hair style.

In 2015, she had the opportunity to perform for her country and president Muhammadu Buhari at his inauguration. Since then, she had both her hands on-deck performing all over the world from Senegal and Ghana to the UK, playing in front of more country presidents.

In 2015, she founded The Cuppy Foundation, an NGO aimed at uplifting women, children, and people living with disabilities and tackling issues such as education, malnourishment and poverty.

DJ Cuppy also holds a master’s degree in Music Business from New York University.

She has won a number of awards including Best Female DJ at the Beatz Awards in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. This year, she has been nominated for a Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Award.

Mr Eazi, 28, Nigeria

Musician and Founder, emPawa Africa

Industry: Entertainment

Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and raised in Lagos, Oluwatosin Ajibade would sit at the breakfast table with his dad, listening to old records his father used to play.

This was the key moment that inspired Ajibade to become ‘Mr Eazi’, one of Africa’s notable music stars.

He began his music career while attending college in Ghana, where his side hustles included promoting concerts and running a concierge service shuttling wealthy kids to parties.

“I began my career with a small cash gift from friends, which enabled me to pay for my first professional-quality video for Skintight,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

This later led him to producing more African favorites in 2017 such as Leg Over and Pour Me Water, both sitting at over 74 million views on YouTube.

But the music did not stop there.

His success has also seen him performing on global stages in the UK and the US including being one of only two African artists to play the world’s most prestigious music festival, Coachella in 2019.

Mr Eazi’s ascent to global stardom has seen him clock over 280 million YouTube views and more than 4.1 million Spotify streams per month, making him one of the most streamed African artists worldwide.

But now, Mr Eazi is establishing himself as an entrepreneur as well.

After founding emPawa in 2018, he has been on a global campaign to mentor and fund African artists.

The entity has provided marketing and business support for established acts like Nigeria’s Simi and Ghana’s King Promise.

emPawa also had a notable hand in Beyonce’s Grammy-nominated The Lion King: The Gift album, helping the pop megastar’s US-based team assemble leading African talent for this landmark project.

“It’s something I wish someone had created when I first started making music. Sometimes, all it takes is that one person to believe in you,” he says.

Wisdom Mawuli Parku, 26, Ghana

Founder, Majora Group

Industry: Diversified holdings

Murphy’s Law states that ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’, and Wisdom Mawuli learned that very early in life.

“I lost over GHC3,000 ($541) when I had wanted to travel to the US in 2014 and consulted a travel and tour company on campus. My visa was sadly turned down but it spurred me to conduct a detailed research in the traveling and ticketing industry, hence the birth of Majora Group,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Majora Group began in a mining community and town called Obuasi in Ghana in 2017 with subsidiaries in travel, education, consultancy, photography and printing.

It came about with Mawuli who wanted to travel to the US but encountered an unfavorable experience.

After the business started, Mawuli again lost a sum of GHC12,000 ($2,162) to a fake Ghanaian recruitment agent in Dubai, leading the business to further setbacks.

“This major setback led my business to huge debt which nearly collapsed after a few months of commencement. Lastly, the Obuasi office caught fire in June 2018 which made me change the entire wiring system of the office building, hence incurring huge financial losses,” he says.

It took a while but Mawuli was able to get the business back on track.

They have sold over 1,000 trips, serviced more than 800 clients and secured five academic accreditations from universities in Europe and Canada as recruitment partners.

The company has grown 57% in revenue last year, he says, and now has two branches in Obuasi and Accra and consists of a staff of nine.

“As an entrepreneur exposed to the high unemployment rate in Ghana, it is my dream to expand my company to become a global conglomerate in Africa so I can create employment for the youth in my country within the company’s capacity. I believe the youth hold the future to sustainable development and I therefore seek to contribute to it through entrepreneurship and job creation.”

Passionate about developing Ghana, Mawuli serves as the executive director for Vision Aid Foundation.

Ogutu Okudo, 28, Kenya

Founder and CEO, Women in Energy & Extractives Africa (WEX Africa)

Industry: Oil and energy

In 2012, Lucky Okudo found herself at a conference on the outskirts of Nairobi discussing environmental sustainability and the strategic role women play.

At the same time, on the opposite end of the continent in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, communities were protesting the negligence in operations by oil companies resulting in oil spills.

“I vividly remember noticing the men dominantly speaking, but it was the woman performing the balancing act of her child on her right hip and yams to feed a family on her head that was the inspiration behind Women in Energy & Extractives Africa that initially began as Women in Oil and Gas East Africa (WIOGEA) [now known as WEX],” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

Ironically, during this period, oil hadn’t been discovered in Kenya yet, but Okudo was on a mission, not knowing that fate would knock on Kenya’s doors months later in 2012.

Oil reserves were discovered in Kenya’s vast and dry remote area of Turkana County and became a source of new wealth and a source of conflict for the pastoralist Turkana people, especially the women who were often the marginalized group.

Part of WEX’s role then was to speak for women in the energy and extractive sector, informing industry participants and decision-makers of the challenges and opportunities women are finding in pursuing careers in these sectors.

To do this, Okudo participated in market meetings and industry bodies to constantly increase the visibility of the organization.

Today, WEX Africa is a social enterprise bridging the gender gap in the oil, gas, mining and alternative energy sectors in Africa

They have 15 employees in five countries and over 75 volunteers in 10 countries and counting. At only 28, Okudo has already been hailed potentially as the next Folorunso Alakija of Africa.

CNN Africa Voices referred to her as “the woman on a mission to disrupt the energy sector”.

She has been recognized internationally and is a recipient of numerous of awards including President Uhuru Kenyatta recognizing her in 2018 as one of the young female Kenyan trailblazers, being awarded the Under 30 Women in Energy East Africa (2018) and in 2019, the Kenya Upstream Oil and Gas Woman of the Year.

In 2019, she addressed the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, accompanying President Kenyatta as part of the Kenyan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

“The energy agenda being no different; under-utilized, overpriced, more than half a billion Africans living in darkness and exploited natural resources with little to no impactful gain to individual countries, people and communities. I am passionate about the opportunity to play a role in factoring a development driven by strategic partnerships,” she says.

Okudo sits on numerous boards advising their strategic operations in East Africa including Bboxx Kenya, the London-based next generation off-grid utility platform operating in 15 countries developing solutions for off-grid communities by providing affordable, pay-as-you-go solar power, impacting over a million people.

2020 is a big year for her as she plans to organize STEM outreaches, release a children’s book and publish guidelines to sustainably engaging Women in Energy and Extractive Sector Projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

By the end of the year, Okudo plans to set up offices in all their East African satellite locations.

Patoranking, 29, Nigeria

Musician

Industry: Entertainment

A quick Google search for the best dancehall artists in Africa, and Patoranking’s name is sure to pop up.

His beats are a unique blend of dancehall, reggae and Afrobeats combined, recognizable both on the continent and the global music scene.

In 2016 and 2017, he was a judge on the internationally-acclaimed reality singing competition, The Voice Nigeria.

He was also awarded MTV Africa’s Song of the Year for hit song My Woman, My Everything in 2016.

The following year, he was crowned Best African Artist at the South African Music Awards (SAMA).

Internationally, he was featured on Major Lazer’s Particula hit song alongside Nasty C, Jidenna and Ice Prince in 2018.

In the same year, he traveled with American singer and songwriter Lauryn Hill for The Miseducation for Lauryn Hill album’s 20th anniversary tour across North America as a special guest.

To date, Patoranking has been nominated for over 40 awards including Male Artist of the Year and Best Dancehall Artist, taking home more than 20 awards for these categories.

Tracy Batta, 29, Nigeria

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Smoothie Express

Industry: Food and Beverage

Tracy Batta was determined to live her life like a healthy fruit basket in 2014.

She would blend fruits together into a smoothie detox and would package some to carry to work.

However, the process was often tedious and time-consuming, let alone a bit messy.

So she decided to start a smoothie delivery company for professionals like herself.

With her business partner (Omowunmi Akande), she raised $10,000 from their savings, built a website, bought a motorcycle for deliveries and set out to start the Smoothie Express.

But it wasn’t a smooth start to the business.

They rented out a spare room from a guest house which turned out to be a bad deal.

“We agreed to pay [the owner] 50% of our profit every month. This deal later became crippling for the business as we had to pay out almost a million naira in some months,” Batta tells FORBES AFRICA.

This forced them to find other means.

In 2016, they moved into their own kitchen and the business began to grow as the two researched and carefully-curated their own recipes.

The next year, they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in the heart of Victoria Island and were now able to service walk-in clients.

“People usually do not trust that women are able to handle businesses for a long period as it is believed that we would get married someday, start having babies and ‘abandon’ the business. This however never stopped us as we worked hard to make our business cash-flow positive.”

The company now has grown to launch three modern stores with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.

They currently employ a team of 35 while the produce comes from over 15 farms across the country.

Last year, they received a loan from a women empowerment program sponsored by Access Bank.

Batta is also a contributor to The Guardian Nigeria.

She plans to grow Smoothie Express to become an international brand with locations across Africa by 2025.

Olajumoke Oduwole , 29, Nigeria

Founder and CEO and Senior Web Developer, KJK Communication Limited

Industry: Tech / software development        

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Ginni Rometty, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, are but a few of the names Olajumoke Oduwole looks up to.

Very soon, she plans to become a part of this coveted list of techpreneurs.

She founded KJK in 2014 as a one-woman business, able to write 16 programming languages.

The business was founded out of the realization that not many small businesses had access to skilled programmers and tech experts.

“This meant small businesses have a disadvantage from the start. This observation piqued my interest in serving this underserved population,” she says.

After quitting her previous job, she ventured into this unchartered territory in May 2014 from her bedroom with savings of $300.

It was a small space but had lofty dreams.

After a year, the business grew and she was able to open an office and employ two more people.

Today, the team includes 18 full-time employees and works with 37 contract programmers on a project basis.

The business has since built apps such as the tru-DATA app owned by TrippleGee & Co. Plc. a security company which resulted in a contract worth $2 million.

“The tru-DATA product is being used to combat counterfeiting and proliferation of fake products, impacting the community and people’s lives. This feat strengthened our belief in our purpose, instilled a sense of pride, and gave us the vision of being the IBM of Africa,” she says.

Last year, they also received funding from the World Bank.

She is the beneficiary of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, a global initiative that fosters economic growth for women entrepreneurs.

“In the next five to 10 years, I plan to build products that will provide a tangible solution to problems faced by growing businesses in Nigeria and Africa,” she says.

“I believe it is our duty as people sharing life in this world to shape the future. I am committed to building my technology dreams so that the outcome will shape the future of African business. You can partner with me on this journey to influence the economic narrative of Africa for good.”

Paul Makaya, 26, Zimbabwe

Founder and CEO,

Bergast House

Industry: Digital design and marketing

It’s not easy doing business in a country perennially in an economic crisis.

But Paul Makaya is defying the odds in Zimbabwe.

With just the $200 he had saved up, Makaya and his friends invested it in 2016 and rented a miniature one-room office space that had only two chairs.

This was only the beginning of Bergast House, a company that offers strategy, public relations, digital and design services.

Today, the two chairs he started the business with have quintupled, as they now have a team of 10 and can gladly say they have worked with numerous organizations including software giant Microsoft.

“The initial trigger was obviously frustration about the limitations of being an employee, but in that sense as well, I felt that as a young, dynamic person, there was so much more that I could offer to the industry,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

“I also felt we had a part to play in the rise of the African continent. Our vision is to rebrand Africa and this is our purpose.”

The company has served over 103 clients including Zuva Petroleum, Astro Mobile, Maranatha Group of Schools, the Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe, Tech24, the Chartered Institute of Customer Management, Steward Bank, and the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society, delivering an advertising value of up to $175 million.

Makaya has been listed on the Gumiguru 40 Under 30 list of emerging Zimbabwean leaders and in 2019, was selected to be the vice curator of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Harare Hub.

He is also a founding member of the Zimbabwe National Youth Awards, an annual event which seeks to identify, award, celebrate and develop exceptional young Zimbabweans in all sectors of the country’s economy.

Makaya plans to grow the business into countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Namibia.

Anwar Bougroug, 29, Morocco

Founder and Creative Director, Bougroug

Industry: Fashion

Morocco is home to very diverse coasts, remarkable architecture, intricate handmade cultural pieces, and it is also home to a young designer making a name for himself thanks to his innovation and unique vision for fashion.

Anwar Bougroug founded a genderless fashion label in 2017 called Bougroug.

Since the unisex fashion movement that has been gaining momentum in recent years and as gender fluidity becomes more normalized, Bougroug is pushing boundaries by being one of the few promoting this trend in the north African country known for its conservative people.

“We are breaking the gender binary and gender roles by representing a new kind of individual, freer than ever from societal norms and rules,” he says.

What started out as a personal project to tackle toxic masculinity and empower women in the region became a visible creative fashion house.

With every item uniquely handcrafted down to the very last thread by Moroccan artisans, Bougroug incorporates long-standing Moroccan crafting techniques.

Having roots both in Morocco and Europe, Bougroug has been able to work with different companies such as H&M and Bershka, designing and developing collections for women, men, kids and babies.

Bougroug has its head office in Stockholm, Sweden, and the production office in Marrakech. Last year, Bougroug decided to amplify his social agenda to write about sexuality, gender-based violence, politics, fashion and society in Morocco.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – MAY 27: Pieter-Steph du Toit during the South African mens national rugby team photocall session at Southern Sun Montecasino Hotel on May 27, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Pieter-Steph du Toit, 27,

South Africa Rugby player

Industry: Sports

Being the grandson of former professional rugby player, Springbok prop Piet Spiere du Toit, and older brother to Johan, also a professional rugby player, expectations are high to carry on the family legacy.

But Pieter-Steph du Toit is doing well.

He hails from the farm area of Swartland, a region in South Africa’s Western Cape province, and has become a superstar in rugby.

Last year, he was awarded the 2019 Men’s World Rugby Player of the Year and SA Rugby Player of the Year after the Springboks’ victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“Pieter-Steph led the charge for the Springboks and he deserves this accolade to go with his World Player of the Year Award,” says Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, in a press statement.

Du Toit plays as a lock or flanker for the South Africa national team and the Stormers in Super Rugby.

According to rugbypass.com, he has successfully won 90% of his tackles, an easy feat for this two-meter tall and 119kg giant.

With the World Cup triumph now firmly in the past, Du Toit looks forward to two massive goals he has set for himself.

One of those is to play in the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour, while the other is to win Super Rugby with the Stormers in the franchise’s final year at Newlands.

Swanky Jerry, 28, Nigeria

Founder, Chief Creative Officer, Swanky Signatures

Industry: Fashion

Red carpets, glamor, lights and cameras; this is the life of Jeremiah Ogbodo Ike, known as ‘Swanky Jerry’.

Featuring gold shoes and a white and black agbada (a four-piece male attire) resembling the Versace print, Ogbodo’s dresscode is as fitting as his nick name.

Swanky Jerry is a Nigerian celebrity fashion stylist who has dressed the likes of Pearl Thusi, Davido, Nyanda, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, AKA, Sarkodie and African presidents and first ladies.

It was at the first-ever Global Citizen Festival in South Africa late 2018 when FORBES AFRICA first met with him accompanying D’Banj, who he styled, and who performed before the thousands present that day.

Swanky Jerry’s styling can be seen through the subtle blend of couture and African Ankara fabrics.

His love for fashion started at a young age as he and his family traveled a lot from city to city.

“We would usually have to wear the clothes of the locals of each city we visited, to blend in, and I absolutely loved it! Growing up within this lifestyle, I became more inspired by my surroundings and began to invest in Nigerian fashion magazines and people-watching at big events due to the elaborate fashion being paraded,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

After the death of his father, Ogbode socialized a lot as a coping mechanism.

It was not long before he became known as “that stylish guy”.

“It was a bittersweet journey for me because although I had experienced one of the biggest losses in my life, the death of my father had practically pushed me into the amazing place I am today. I found happiness and peace in creating and was virtually driven to turn my passion into a career in order to make money and fend for myself. And this was during a very difficult time as fashion styling, especially for me, wasn’t very popular or respected in Nigeria. However, I took the risk and I’m very grateful for where it has led me to today,” he says.

He then launched his fashion and lifestyle brand, Swanky Signatures Styling, in 2012, and it has since grown to become one of the most popular and influential brands in the industry.

Creative director, celebrity stylist, wardrobe stylist, designer, social influencer and consultant are just a few titles under his stylish belt.

He is also passionate about giving back and lending his hand to different charities and drawing attention to movements such as ‘Break the Silence’ and #WalkForLove.

He has also been featured internationally by CNN.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 09: Silver medalist Nijel Amos of Botswana poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 800m on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Nijel Amos, 26, Botswana

Track and field athlete

Industry: Sports

Nijel Amos is known as Botswana’s 800-meter superstar.

Having shocked the nation by gaining podium position at the 2012 Summer Olympics at just 18 years old, he also made history by becoming the first Motswana to win a medal at the Olympics.

Since then, he has been running swiftly into more victories.

In 2014, he won numerous gold medals: the 800m and 4x400m relay in Marrakech.

The following year, he went on to impress at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games where he won a gold medal and later won gold in the 800m at the All Africa Games.

In more recent years, he has continued to run the good race for his country, clocking some of his best times in the 2019 IAAF season.

Amos has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and is a medal hopeful for Botswana, which still only boasts one Olympic medal.

Amos has also founded a foundation called Chase Dream Empire to empower youth, particularly ex-convicts.

Davies Okeowo, 29, Nigeria

Co-founder and CEO, Enterprise Hill and Competence Africa

Industry: Business Development

While in his second year as an undergraduate studying accounting, Davies Okeowo watched an episode of the Donald Trump-produced business reality show, The Apprentice, and it was in that moment he decided that he wanted to become an entrepreneur.

He set to turn his dream into a reality; however, his first business after university failed dismally.

“I made no sales in a full year and burned all my savings,” he says.

Luckily, Okeowo had a mentor who guided him and taught him to build a structure for a sustainable business to the point that he started helping other entrepreneurs and this birthed Enterprise Hill.

With a computer and internet connection, he founded the business in 2015 as an accounting and business development firm in a bid to strengthen medium and small business enterprises across Nigeria.

“I have come to the understanding that the depth of the business structure and human capital problem isn’t just a problem in my sphere of influence, it is a problem across the African continent; which my undertakings are devoted to solving,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

In 2017, he founded Competence Africa, a social enterprise now focused on the employability of young Nigerians.

“I strongly believe that Africa’s development is largely predicated on the quality of her people and as such, I setup Competence Africa to help ensure that Africa’s youth possess high level commercial competencies,” he says.

Since inception, over 148 students have graduated from their competence development program and impacted over 2,000 businesses.

Returning full circle, the young man whose dream was inspired by a business reality show, became the winner of one, as he won the second season of The Next Titan, a Nigerian entrepreneurial reality show.

“I have a long-term commitment to the African development cause and my theory of change is to invest in the development of young African talent, contribute to the development of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems across the continent, and advocate for developmental policies in a bid to make Africa a first world continent,” he says.

Davies is also a speaker, trainer and has facilitated training sessions for organizations such as The British Council and the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Sports, to name a few.

Maryam Gwadabe, 29, Nigeria

Founder and CEO, Blue Sapphire Hub

Industry: ICT

Dressed in a veil and abaya, an attire known to the Huasa tribe of Nigeria, Maryam Gwadabe is not your typical Information Technology guru.

Gwadabe is a tech expert passionate about teaching and supporting young people, a gift she discovered when attending a program at a vocational center and she noticed that some of her classmates struggled with their programming skills.

On graduating, she tutored and mentored some of her friends and close relatives.

With a capital investment of NGN150,000 ($405), she then bought some training material, developed a curriculum and started facilitating basic and advanced ICT skills from her living room. But many thought Gwadabe was crazy and what she was doing would fail.

After a year, in 2014, her students exceeded her expectations and her packed living room testified that she was doing something right.

With support from her proud father who saw this growth, she set up a hub in 2015, known today as the Blue Sapphire Hub in the heart of Kano State in northern Nigeria.

The company provides ICT, entrepreneurship and incubation programs and consultancy and product development services to many young men and women, especially those like her.

Gwadabe employs a staff of 15 and since inception, has trained over 5,000 youth and women, and supported over 20 tech-driven and non-tech driven startups with business development support.

“What is more fulfilling than this; impacting the lives of women and seeing the returns? I have been advocating for bridging the digital gender divide for the past five years and now a lot of women are into tech in Nigeria, because of the impact of my work,” she says.

Each year, she hosts different forums such as ‘Hour of Code’, an event for children to learn coding, ‘ICT solutions for her’ and the ‘System trix seminar’ that teaches the latest tech tips, tricks and trends.

Next year, she is opening another hub in the capital city and plans to reach other African countries such as Niger, Chad, the Gambia and Cameroon.

Director Kit, 29, South Africa

Director, Writer and Producer

Industry: entertainment

When Keitumetsi Qhali, also known as Director Kit, walks into the studio for the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 photoshoot, her demeanor is that of a hard-talking businesswoman, but with a creative twist.

Well, she has to be this way, as a woman in a predominately white male-dominated industry with limited budgets.

Qhali, who hails from the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, is a multi-award winning director.

She works in long and short form films and videos and to date, has directed over 29 videos.

Her early work dates back to 2014 when she directed an African hit music video Rands and Nairas by Nigerian artist Emmy Gee featuring AB Crazy & Dj Dimplez.

The music video won the Best Music Video of the Year award at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and was nominated for the Channel O music video award, for the most gifted music video of the year and Most Gifted Newcomer.

Qhali bagged all these wins at the age of 24.

Later, she was signed to the prestigious Darling Films production company as their first black female commercials director.

“It is a big deal to be recognized in this industry. My mom always said I need to work twice as hard as the men. I need to be twice as fast and twice as smart,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

Fast forward to recent years, her talent continued to stand, on stages locally and internationally.

In 2018, she directed a short film titled The Initiate which was bought by Showmax.

And last year, she was nominated for a Loerie Award for her fashion film Winter Blues for the Edgars winter campaign.

She also won a SAFTA (South African Film and Television Awards) for Best Factual Educational Documentary Programme for her short film titled KICK IT.

Last year, she was also listed as one of the Mail & Guardian Young 200.

She is currently doing some work with Netflix which she says she is not at liberty to talk about right now.

It’s lights, camera and action until then.

Sasha Vybz, 28, Uganda

Founder, Savy Filmz, and Video Director

Industry: Entertainment

Hailing from humble beginnings in the Kabale district of Uganda, Ian Akankwasa, popularly known as ‘Sasha Vybz’, was attracted to motion pictures from a very young age.

“When I was a young kid, I used to love film so much. I was always intrigued. I wanted to find out how they make these movies. I wanted to make movies and I wanted to tell stories. Given the fact that I was a very quiet person I thought I could express myself through filmmaking. I never imagined myself to get this far,” he says.

He taught himself using online resources, and hacks and tricks from his former days as an events photographer but was unable to develop the quality films and videos he yearned for, or to address the lack of high-quality videos in Uganda’s entertainment scene.

So he enrolled at the CityVarsity School of Media Studies and Creative Arts College in Cape Town, South Africa, to pursue his unfulfilled dreams.

Immediately after his studies, he broke into the music scene in East Africa and became one of the most sought-after music directors for artists in Nigeria, South Africa and Burundi.

He began turning Uganda’s music into gold with high-definition quality.

He has worked with top musicians such as Patoranking, Bebe Cool and Toniks.

His talent has seen him bagging awards including Best Video Director at the 2019 African Muzik Awards in Dallas, Texas.

His other awards include Club Music Video Award 2017, HiPipo Video Director 2018/19, Buzz Video of the Year 2016/17 and the Rising Star Video Director 2018/19.

Savy Filmz specializes in motion pictures, music videos, movies and documentaries.

CNN has hailed him as a filmmaker “making music videos as an art form”.

Lewis Appiagyei, 16, Ghana

Car racer

Industry: Sports

At the age of 10, Lewis Appiagyei already had his first Guinness World Record for the fastest lap driven on the Laguna Seca Circuit in virtual racing on PlayStation3.

This record is still unbeaten.

While many boys his age were playing with toy cars, he raced to fame following in the tyre tread of Lewis Hamilton, one of his heroes.

“My aim is to become Africa’s first Formula One world champion, a prize which is still up for grabs to all African racing drivers wherever they may be,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.

Recently, he made it on to the 30 Under 30 Future of Ghana’s list in 2018 and is the current go-karting champion.

His passion for racing has taken him to race tracks in Europe and Dubai.

Early this year, he won his last junior trophy at the Buckmore Park Kart Circuit in Kent England, the same circuit where many current Formula One drivers learned their trade including Jenson Button and Hamilton.

For Appiagyei, this marked the end of the era, and the start of a new one.

There is no telling what the big leagues hold for this young talent but he predicts that he will become a Formula One champion just like his namesake role model.

Hadeel Osman, 29, Sudan

Creative Director, Stylist, Founder, DAVU Studio

Industry: Arts

Hadeel Osman has over seven years of experience in the media and fashion industries.

Her creative inspiration stems from her years raised in the United Arab Emirates and living in Malaysia.

But when she decided to return to Sudan in 2016, her career painted a complicated but optimistic picture.

“Sudan is a very interesting and a difficult nation to create in. Coming here, it was hard to find raw inspiration from the streets. With a very controlling regime, limited resources and a never-ending economic crisis, life was very dim and colors were nowhere in sight,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

This allowed her to come up with the name of her business, DAVU, which stands for ‘designing a visual utopia’.

It is a multi-disciplinary creative studio that fuses design, art, education and sustainability.

“I also wanted to contribute to the arts and culture scene of my country, which has fallen under the radar both locally in the commercial sphere and regionally across the continent,” she says.

She has worked on several projects with clients in Dubai, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sudan to enhance their branding strategies.

DAVU Studio offers an array of creative services in the form of art and creative direction, concept development, branding, styling and most importantly, informal education through interactive, immersive and creative workshops.

Through this, she has had the opportunity to work with Sudanese visual artists and designers, and was commissioned by the Sudan Independent Film Festival to train costume designers, jewelry designers and filmmakers.

Being a creative on a mission to change the outlook of her country, she has also dedicated the remainder of her career to uplifting Sudan in the creative field and Africa as a frontier of the world’s art and culture. Osman believes with the recent revolution, the future looks bright as she hopes to create a Sudan chapter of the Fashion Revolution organization, designing a suitable gender-neutral, capsule fashion collection inspired by traditional Sudanese design aesthetics.

O’Plérou Grebet, 22, Ivory Coast

Graphic Designer, Digital Artist, Founder, Zouzoukwa

Industry: Creative Tech

Quiet, creative and impactful are pretty much the words that sum up O’Plérou Grebet, the Ivorian graphic designer on a mission to promote African cultures in modern and interactive ways.

He is the founder and creator of Zouzoukwa, an Android and iOS app which allows thousands of African people to communicate more clearly using stickers and emojis representing African culture.

He has created 365 free emojis that portray contemporary African life. These include three-legged pots, djembe drums, women dressed in ankaras, tuk-tuk vehicles, African masks, hair braids and shekere, a West African percussion instrument made with a dried gourd; all this self-taught watching YouTube videos.

After mastering the skill, he would post his creations on Instagram which soon gained momentum.

Using art, culture and technology, Grebet is sharing West African heritage to the world.

He has since featured in numerous publications, locally, and internationally, including the New York Times, CNN, NPR and Fast Company.

The app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in less than a year.

“I am aware of the impact of social media, and I use it to allow people to embrace their culture through it. The most popular filter I made is Selflove 225, which adds a rotating text above the head of the user saying ‘ye dja’, which means ‘I slay’ in Ivorian slang,” Grebet tells FOBRES AFRICA.

The African Talents Awards named Zouzoukwa the best app of 2019.

Currently, the Ivorian has been using tech to create Instagram Augmented Reality filters.

“I hope to be one of the 2020 FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 to inspire the African youth, and show that what we create has real impact. I also make connections with other Africans transforming our continent and see how we could work together,” the quiet creative says.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Asisat Oshoala the new Arsenal Ladies signing at London Colney on March 10, 2016 in St Albans, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Asisat Oshoala, 25, Nigeria

Footballer

Industry: Sports

In a 2017 photograph taken at the CAF Awards ceremony in Accra, Ghana, Asisat Oshoala, stands proudly as the only woman in the photo among some of the football greats: Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, and countrymate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

She may not be one of the boys but she is surely in their league.

But growing football was the last thing for a young Nigerian woman to even think about pursuing.

As a result, Oshoala’s parents were not happy when she dropped out of school to pursue a career in the game.

But years later, it paid off as she has built a successful career and become a titan of Nigerian football.

On the pitch, with speed, technique and balance, Oshoala is definitely a keeper.

Recently, she won the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Women’s Player of the Year for the fourth time.

“I am really excited, proud of myself; four times is something to always remember,” she told BBC Sport Africa.

“It [the win] keeps me going, but of course, there is still more work to do, I want to create my own history and not just equal someone else’s record. I’m going to give my best to create mine,” she said.

She plays for both the Nigerian national team and internationally, for the Spanish side FC Barcelona Femení in the Primera División as a forward.

Barcelona was to face Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which has now been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Scilla Owusu, 23, Ghana

Video director, Producer, Screenwriter, and Founder of Youngtrepreneurs

Industry: Entertainment

What do Davido, Burna Boy, Sarkodie, Mr Eazi, Patoranking, Diamond Platnumz, Morgan Heritage, Wande Coal and Maleek Berry all have in common?

Apart from producing many of Africa’s top music hits, they can attribute the creative success of some of their videos to 23-year-old Ghanaian video director, Scilla Owusu.

It all started in the summer of 2015, after Owusu graduated from college with a business studies degree in London and she felt lost and did not know what her life’s purpose was.

Putting pen to paper, Scilla eventually found her passion in screenwriting which led her to launch her first six-part series titled A Lesson Learnt that she wrote and produced.

This led her to win an award at the Screen Nation Film & Television Awards in 2016.

Following this success, Owusu dove into the world of music video production at the age of 19.

“Being in such a male-dominated industry as a music video producer, especially a young black female video producer, felt like being black twice because I had to work twice as hard to prove I was worthy of being in the room, despite my great talents,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

Within a year, Scilla’s drive led her to produce popular music videos such as Tomorrow by M.anifest featuring Burna Boy and Show You Love by Kevin Cole.

Her love for the entertainment industry led her to launch her own social youth organization in Ghana called Youngtrepreneurs to help young Ghanaian creatives improve their business knowledge, gain work skills and provide career opportunities. Owusu has been featured by different media outlets including the BBC and OkayAfrica.

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Under 30

Nominations Open for FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 class of 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS CRITERIA:

Business and Technology categories

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

Sports category

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

Creatives category

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

Your entry should include:

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

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

Nominations close on 3 February 2020.

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Under 30

Making Of The 2019 Forbes Africa #30Under30 Cover

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

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

Judges of the 30 Under 30 class of 2019

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

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

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