This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future.
The list is in no particular order:
1. Karabo Poppy Moletsane, 27, South Africa
Creative Illustrator, Street Artist and Graphic Designer
Not only is Karabo Poppy Moletsane an artist aiming for the skies, but you can see some of her work from there too.
In the Zoo Lake public park in Johannesburg, two basketball courts are adorned with her creativity.
From a bird’s eye-view, you can see one in blue with a crocodile on it and another in turquoise with a cheetah on it.
Together with another local artist, they designed the courts in collaboration with Nike.
Moletsane is also responsible for tagging the famous landmark in Soweto, the Soweto Towers, which can be seen miles away and has become a source of kasi (township) pride.
Moletsane’s goal has been to put black female illustrators on the map.
In 2015, she turned her passion for art into a business and founded Mother Tongue-Creative House which is now trading under her own name, Karabo Poppy.
“This was a five-year journey that started with me only having one month of work experience, living with family and friends, and chartering my own course without scripts for success,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
She has won three Loerie Awards over the course of her career, and her work has been recognized as part of a Grammy-nominated music video Makeba, by French singer and artist, Jain.
Poppy was also the first black female artist to paint the Art Wall in the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in California.
For international woman’s day in March 2018, she was also the artist behind the sequential Google doodle.
Her contribution to the world has been contemporary African aesthetics and she continues to do so.
2. Rophnan Nuri, 29, Ethiopia
Electronic Dance Music Artist
At the age of 10, Rophnan Nuri released his first mixtape, singing and playing the drums with his classmates, and he has not stopped moving to his own beat since.
He self-funded his career with the money he made as a club DJ and over the years, he learned the technical side of music and produced his own distinct sound.
“I was always fascinated by the fusion of different instruments and voices, and created a unique niche for myself by amalgamating traditional Ethiopian sounds from the past with futurist electronic music,” he says.
Nuri’s talent also saw him being one of the three African DJs chosen by South African DJ, Black Coffee, to perform in Ibiza Spain in 2017.
In 2018, he received awards in three categories at the 2018 Leza Awards in Ethiopia.
In the same year, he featured on a song titled Get To Work by Major Lazer, a popular American electronic dance music trio.
Despite his global impact, Nuri says he will always stay true to his Ethiopian roots, one of the reasons why he is most loved by his fellow Ethiopians.
“Getting recognition and support in my home country is unparalleled. My ability to engineer traditional instruments and merge them with popular sounds has earned me incredible support in the form of sold-out performances,” he says,
He continues to share his love for music through the Ethiopian DJ Association, nurturing up-and-coming talent.
3. Henry Amponsah, 27, Ghana
Designer, Founder and CEO: 101 Clothing
Henry Amponsah knew he was going to be a designer from a young age.
“I remember when I told my mum I wanted to be a designer in the future, she angrily said, ‘what will be the use of gaining education only to be sitting in a container sewing clothes for chicken change?’ That got me laughing out loud and I said to myself ‘I will prove this lady wrong in the future’,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
And Amponsah did just that.
While in high school, he and four friends had a photoshoot with outfits that cost $150 and they posted the photos on social media.
“The collection went viral and clients started talking to me,” Amponsah says.
The recognition pushed him to officially start his business, 101 Clothing, in 2014, and the rest was a stitch in time.
Today, Amponsah has dressed Samira Bawumia, the wife of Ghana’s Vice President. He also runs a foundation that helps with basic school equipment and workshops.
To date, he has received over 10 local and international awards and featured in many magazines including British Vogue magazine.
In the end, Amponsah managed to fulfil his dream and that of his mom’s; he built his fashion house and his now gunning for a PhD.
4. Austin Malema, 28, South Africa
Photographer and CEO: Pixel Kollective
While some opt to invest in shares or property, Austin Malema opted to invest in memories and everything clicked into place.
Instead of celebrating his 21st birthday with a party, he used the money to buy his first camera, which cost R18,000 ($1,200).
He began shooting at events, which led to more bookings and he realized that the lens gave him greater access to musicians, actors and prominent people.
Since then, Malema has photographed for many brands globally and for events such as the South African Music Awards, the South African Film and Television Awards and the Global Citizen Festival.
His work has also led to him photographing popular musicians such as Drake, Joey BadA$$, AKA, Casper Nyovest, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
In 2018, when FORBES AFRICA 2018 30 Under 30 alumni, Thuso Mbedu, was nominated for an International Emmy, he was her official photographer in New York.
Apart from his exposure, Malema has turned his passion for photography into a business.
Last year, he founded his first company, Pixel Kollective, with his two partners, Kelly Leuuw and Sivuyile Matsiliza.
“My biggest dream is for the company to represent young black photographers around South Africa,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
5. Harmony Katulondi, 29, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Presenter, Model, Actor and Voice Over Artist
Harmony Katulondi is a jack of all trades, and definitely a name to remember.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo-born presenter first fell in love with acting and presenting when he moved to South Africa as a toddler.
“I remember going over lines with my parents and stepping into new worlds every time I got on to the stage. I loved the smiles, joy and awe it brought into people’s eyes when they saw me,” he says.
However, when he was in university, it was nothing close to that feeling.
One day, while studying, a friend told him of a casting gig where they needed tall people.
He applied and it turned out to be African Fashion International.
“I got there, walked, and they loved it, but I needed an agent. They told me to go upstairs and I signed with my current agency and so the casting life began. Commercial here, fashion week and catalogues there. That lead to TV shows, stints on Generations: The Legacy, and Skeem Saam,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
However, there was one goal he aimed to achieve; being a Top Billing presenter. Katulondi auditioned for the Top Billing presenter search three times and didn’t make it.
Disappointed, this prompted him to start his own company in 2016, Harmony Katulondi Pty Ltd, a creative consultancy company.
Two years later, the presenter search came around again but Katulondi was not eager until his friends pushed him to.
In the end, Katulondi got the part. His talent saw him doing voice-overs for the Black Panther movie campaign. He is also the founder of a non-profit called Just Love to help those in need by doing outreaches such as feeding schemes, fundraising, skills development and environmental clean-ups.
6. Kapasa Musonda, 29, Zambia
In 2011, Kapasa Musonda returned to a non-existent fashion industry in her home country, Zambia, after living in the US for six years.
She had just obtained her Associate of Arts Advanced Study degree with a Magna Cum Laude, but had nowhere to use it.
“I had no choice but to open my own design business if I was to survive and make a living at what I knew best,” she says.
This birthed her business and fashion house, Mangishi Doll, that same year.
It is a Zambian ‘Afro-Eclectic’ clothing brand inspired by bold prints and an artistic expression of design and style.
Along the way, Musonda has made enough money to hire two permanent tailors and train five women in advanced fashion design.
In 2017, her garments were retailing at a boutique in Los Angeles and that caught the eyes of many US celebrities.
Among them was iconic actor Angela Bassett, who wore her garments to the American Black Film Festival Honours in Hollywood.
“We were elated and honored and after Angela Bassett wore our piece, we had the biggest growth spurt we had ever experienced,” she says.
It was not long before the BET Awards 2018 invited her for an exclusive fashion event where she presented a 24-piece collection.
From a three-year-old armed with a sewing machine, to taking on the world with couture and elegance, Musonda continues to put African print on the map.
7. Richard Akuson, 26, Nigeria
Founder and Editor: A Nasty Boy
Richard Akuson’s activism for LGBTQ+ and challenging gender norms resulted in him being named one of the 40 most powerful people in Nigeria under the age of 40 in the 2017 YNaijaPower List.
He founded A Nasty Boy, a magazine that is a fashion platform celebrating alternative and creative ideas, forms of expression and lifestyles, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community.
It was named one of Vogue’s ‘What to Read This Fall’ in 2017.
“That’s pretty radical, given the political climate and culture there,” Vogue said. Akuson is a lawyer by profession, but dove into this creative activism after experiencing a brutal homophobic attack.
He sought asylum in the US and grew his platform into a global brand.
A Nasty Boy has since created a safe space to have meaningful conversations for people persecuted for being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
But Akuson plans to take it a step further. “Through collaborations with American institutions, I’d like to focus my time as a licensed American lawyer on pro-LGBTQ+ rights policy advocacy in Africa,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
He is currently writing a memoir about his journey to the US and co-producing as well as co-directing a documentary series about the lived experiences of African asylum-seekers in the US.
8. Menzi Mcunu, 22, South Africa
Founder: Afrocentric Gentlemvn
Menzi Mcunu is one of South Africa’s best-dressed young men, and he gets paid for it.
His notable look is a well-tailored suit, tie, top hat and a swag oozing elegance and grace.
Not bad for a 22-year-old.
He has graced the covers of, not one, but two magazines and his biggest highlight was being part of GQ South Africa’s Best Dressed Men for 2017.
Internationally, he has attended Milan Fashion Week in 2018 and has been featured on Vogue Italia, GQ Russia and GQ Australia.
It all started when he visited Mumbai, India, in 2013.
He was inspired by the Indian culture and its attention to detail in fashion.
As a result, he founded Afrocentric Gentlemvn, an African lifestyle brand that merges European aesthetics and African elegance with suit measurement and creative consultancy services.
“I knew nothing about the technical side or production side of selling garments but I wanted to depict suits differently. I didn’t want them to just be suits like the ones I saw at many retailers but I wanted them to represent a lifestyle,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
Mcunu plans to grow his platform, Afrocentric Gentlemvn, globally.
He has also been interested in the development of African luxury and African fashion on the continent.
9. Trevor Stuurman, 26, South Africa
Photographer and Creative Director
CNN describes Trevor Stuurman as a cultural force, and indeed he has illustrated that.
Living up to these titles, he has had the opportunity to document former US President, Barack Obama, The Carters (Beyoncé and Jay Z) as well his mentor and someone he considers a sister, Naomi Campbell.
He was born and raised in the diamond city of Kimberley in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
After studying film, he was drawn to a different medium of visual arts – photography.
As a result, he became a self-taught photographer; in fact, one of South Africa’s most sought-after photographers.
“The more I leave home, the more I realize the power and currency that home has. And I think that it makes me a better story-teller because I am able to find pieces of home wherever I go and then create tangible products,” he says.
This essence of belonging inspired him to host his first solo exhibition titled Home, a love letter to the Himba women of Namibia, at the HAZARD Gallery in Johannesburg.
He has received recognition such as being on GQ South Africa’s Most Connected and Most Influential Man list 2018, Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans 2015, and Destiny Magazine’s Power of 40 List. Stuurman is also a contributor to British Vogue.
He plans to have his work live in museums and art galleries around the world and ultimately, to cultivate a space for more young story-tellers on the continent to share their lived African experiences through their own lenses.
10. Burna Boy, 28, Nigeria
Early this year, Burna Boy took his Nigerian music fire to the US and ended up selling out the iconic Apollo Theatre in New York City where previous African legends like Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba and Black Coffee were once hosted.
He was also one of the major artists to perform this year at Coachella, one of the world’s biggest music and arts festival.
Born Damini Ogulu, he is undoubtedly one of the hottest African recording artists right now and a name to remember.
The Afro-fusion singer and songwriter rose to fame after his lead single Like to Party was released in 2012.
Since then, he has moved to his own beat, releasing hit after hit each year.
Some of the world’s favorites include Dangote, Ye, On the Low, Soke, and Hallelujah, each reaching over three million views on YouTube.
Of the many accolades, he has won Best Album of the Year, Best Pop Artist of the Year at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards in 2015, and recently received four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival.
His third studio album Outside was hailed by Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today as the best Nigerian album of 2018.
11. Kim Jayde, 28, Zimbabwe
TV Presenter, Model and MC
It’s not every day that one gets to meet the world’s biggest names such as Charlize Theron, Naomi Campbell, Major Lazer, Ciara, Paris Hilton, Tyler Perry and Trevor Noah.
But Harare-born Kim Jayde has.
Since she moved to South Africa, she has been landing major gigs, making her undoubtedly one of Zimbabwe’s ‘it girls’ at the moment.
You may have seen her on your screens on MTV Base Africa as a presenter, but she has also worked with brands like Revlon, Coca-Cola, Ackermans, Accessorize (London) and more.
“My story of being discovered by MTV Africa on Instagram and then going on to become the face of the channel is proof that anything is possible, with hard work, dedication and passion,” she says.
Among the many awards was the Media Personality of The Year at the 2018 Zimbabwe Achievers Awards.
She was also listed as one of the 40 Under 30 class of Emerging Zimbabwe Leaders by Gumiguru and not to mention took home her first international award for Woman in Media at the fifth annual Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards.
However, when the cameras aren’t rolling, Jayde still uses her degree in social work contributing to the Home of Hope For Girls; something she has always been passionate about.
12. Petite Noir, 28, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Singer, Songwriter and Producer
From the African soil to some of the world’s greatest stages, Petite Noir embodies a modern African renaissance through his music and art.
He once opened for American Grammy award-winning singer Solange Knowles while she was on her 2013 US tour and performed at the South by Southwest festival in Texas.
In the 70s, an Angolan woman and Congolese man fell in love.
But due to the political instability in both countries, they fled to Belgium in search of a new start.
That new start birthed Yannick Ilunga, now popularly known as Petite Noir.
In 1993 they then moved to Cape Town where his love for music was awakened.
“I really started to fall in love with music at the age of 15. It was something that I automatically felt drawn to, so much so that I immersed myself in various music projects as much as I could,” Noir tells FORBES AFRICA.
In 2012, he released his first single Till We Ghosts, which caught the eye of a music manager in the UK and wasting no time, Noir moved there.
The next year was his big break.
He signed a £80,000 ($103,305) deal and embarked on his first world tour, which spanned Africa, the UK, Europe and America.
“I toured with Solange and Foals [British rock band]; I played at festivals with line-ups that included the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Angélique Kidjo and many more,” he says.
Since then, his career has been nothing short of greatness.
Together with his wife, Rochelle ‘RhaRha’ Nembhard, he has been working on a charity called the Noirwave foundation.
Noir is currently working on his own festival called ‘No Borders’, a celebration of the journey of immigrants through art and music.
Among some of his accolades is the South African Music Award 2016 for Best Alternative Album for La Vie Est Belle/Life is Beautiful.
The same year, he also received recognition for the album artwork and the video Best exhibited in the African art gallery at Harvard University.
With Solange inviting him to play in the US and American musician Mos Def being one of his advisors, Petite Noir is a name to remember and a wave to catch on to.
13. Aisha Baker, 29, South Africa
Businesswoman, Influencer and Style Icon
There are a few names that have become synonymous with South Africa’s authority in the digital beauty industry and Aisha Baker is one of them.
Baker founded BakedOnline in 2009 when the blogging trend was fledgling in South Africa.
“I loved fashion, since I was introduced to Vogue Pattern books by my seamstress grandmother; I also loved literature and writing. It was a natural progression for me,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
At the age of 20, she began monetizing it.
“I had accidentally formed a media company without knowing. Having one employee at the time, my photographer Tegan Smith, who worked only for petrol money and great images,” she says.
For one year, Baker worked a nine-to-five job at an embroidery factory to fund her business and would shoot content for her blog on weekends.
It was a stressful time.
“I got admitted to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack. Turns out it was an ulcer caused by stress,” she says.
Ten years later, her brand has since stayed relevant and picked up some awards along the way.
She graced the cover of the 2018 influencer issue of Cosmopolitan South Africa.
She has worked with brands such as Estée Lauder, Mercedes-Benz, Cotton, Mac, Woolworths and Microsoft to name a few.
Most recently, she was awarded the E! Africa Social Media Award at their Pop of Culture awards.
14. Karun, 24, Kenya
You might know Karun from the pop trio Kenyan group Camp Mulla, nominated for a BET Award in the US in 2012.
But this alternative R&B pop artist is now taking on the world solo and is one of Kenya’s rising new wave artists.
Born Karungari Mungai, she started her music career at 14 and went on to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the US.
Since then, she has had the opportunity to perform at live festivals and shows across the globe such as the SXSW 2015 (Austin TX) as part of the collective Cosmic Homies.
Karun also performed at the Madaraka Festival (Seattle), Blankets & Wine in Kenya and most recently, the Africa Nouveau Festival, Kenya’s most forward-thinking electric three-day music festival.
She has been covered by publications such as The Fader and OkayAfrica and local Kenyan publications such as The Daily Nation.
The young artist is currently working on a full-length project, and is in the process of planning a pan-African and northern hemisphere tour.
“The goal is to be the biggest female R&B act out of Africa. Watch this space,” she tells us.
15. Gilmore Moyo, 29, Zimbabwe
Creative Director, Fashion Facilitator, Former TV & Radio Host and Founder: Paper Bag Africa
Gilmore Moyo was named one of the 100 Most influential Zimbabweans Under 40 for 2018, alongside politician Nelson Chamisa and Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry.
Moyo is known for his contribution to the Zimbabwean media and art scene.
He hosted and produced a radio show on Cliff Central, and also Thatha Wena, a conversational pan-African TV show.
Apart from his on-air talent, he also founded Paper Bag Africa, a content creation, public relations and management company.
His biggest highlight in the business was attaining a contract to manage the European Union Film Festival 2018 and 2019, which ran over five days and showcased 10 films.
“Being an entrepreneur in Zimbabwe is the most difficult thing one has to go through. Funding is not available for you to grow your business and opportunities to attain money aren’t easily visible,” he reflects.
Despite the challenges, he is optimistic about the future.
“Our ultimate goal is to become the ‘go to’ establishment for authentic African content,” he says.
16. Boitumelo ‘Boity’ Thulo, 29, South Africa
TV Host, Entrepreneur and Musician
Boitumelo ‘Boity’ Thulo wanted to pursue a career in criminology and psychology, but instead, has become one of the most recognized stars in South Africa’s entertainment industry.
To think that her career started almost 10 years ago when she was cast in a lead role in an advert for an international restaurant chain, Thulo has since dabbled in various parts of the entertainment industry including TV hosting, acting, and music.
“There are so many highlights and standout moments in my career. But the one that always gives me goosebumps is my lead role on the Fergusons’ Rockville [in 2013]. That role is what paved the way to ‘Boity’ becoming a household name. I will forever be grateful to Connie and Shona Ferguson for believing in and trusting me with such a big role,” she says.
Today, she also wears the entrepreneurial hat after founding Boity Toning Support, a weight loss supplement.
Last year, Thulo recorded her debut single Wuz Dat featuring Nasty C, also a former FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list-maker.
The song was nominated for best collaboration at the SA Hip Hop awards.
Thulo stays right on script as she further pursues acting, music, as well as developing more health products and nutritional supplements.
17. Hermann Kamte, 27, Cameroon
Architect, Founder and CEO: Hermann Kamte & Associates
At 26, Hermann Kamte delivered a keynote speech alongside Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, during the Africa 2018 Forum at Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt.
He was invited to speak about the future of African cities from the perspective of a creative architect.
This has been one of his biggest highlights to date and this is the only beginning.
Kamte is an award-winning Cameroonian architect with flair.
He founded Hermann Kamte & Associates, an architectural firm that provides design, landscape, education, research and development services.
One of his most notable works is the ‘Lagos’ Wooden Tower’ that won him the American Architecture Award as well as the World Architecture Festival and Awards’ inaugural WAFX Prize in 2017, known as the world’s most forward-looking concept.
“I think the desire to be an entrepreneur was very important alongside the fear to fail,” he says.
“Being able to offer a useful service to the community is the first thing that drives my passion for architecture. I have to be a model for younger generations; I want to create a safe and secure environment for people, with sustainable projects,” he adds.
Kamte is well on his way to building a better tomorrow.
18. Helen Chukwu, 25, Nigeria
Fashion Designer, Founder and CEO: Helen Couture
Helen Chukwu is cut from a different cloth and it is no surprise that her designs have featured on Vogue Arabia.
She started dressing up dolls as a child, and now dresses up brides for a living.
At the age of 18, she became the founder and CEO of her design house, Helen Couture, which currently has operations in Nigeria, London and Dubai.
One of her memorable highlights was a private showcase in London and having her dress worn by Katie Cleary, America’s Next Top Model Cycle 1 contestant, at the 2013 Oscar Party. She is currently in the process of stocking her products in two stores each in the US, France and Italy.
She and her team have started drawing up plans to raise capital and build a 10,000 garment-production-per-day garment manufacturing factory in Nigeria by 2021.
19. Luis Munana, 27, Namibia Creative Director, Model, TV
Host and Founder: Voigush Africa
You might remember his face from the ninth season of the reality television series Big Brother Africa, in 2014.
Since then, Luis Munana has been able to use his reality TV star status to good use.
Munana is a creative director of a children’s TV show he founded in 2017 called Waka Waka Moo.
The original animated cartoon and puppet program became one of the first in Namibia.
“I was baby-sitting my niece and nephew and I saw them recite every single word from cartoons created in the western world. So, I decided to create Namibia’s own cartoon and puppet show translated in all 11 Namibian languages. So, Waka Waka Moo was created,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
The animations educate children about Namibia’s history, culture and heritage.
He has managed to expand Waka Waka Moo from being on TV to a tour reaching 44 rural primary schools in the country.
As for the hosting side of his career, Munana founded Voigush Africa, a lifestyle, fashion and entertainment TV show in 2014 inspired by the South African entertainment market.
“While studying in South Africa, I would go to auditions to shows like V Entertainment, Top Billing and MTV Base Africa but they would always tell me I am not South African. So, I came home and created my own show,” he says.
Voigush has since covered music, lifestyle and fashion events across Africa which Munana produces, directs, scripts and edits himself.
As a jack of all trades, Munana proves that one can be talented both on and off screen.
20. Upile Chisala, 24, Malawi
Author and Poet
Upile Chisala started writing at the age of four.
By the time she started primary school, there were piles of paper with little stories scattered around her house, in Zomba, Malawi, which was already chock-a-block with books.
But it took her years to embrace her talent.
After moving to the US, she studied sociology and graduated in 2015 but struggled to find a steady job.
She turned to poetry for comfort and self-published her first book at the age of 21.
It was her first collection of poetry called Soft Magic.
She continued her studies and enrolled for an MSc in African studies at the University of Oxford.
She revisited her writing and published a book called Nectar in 2017.
This brought the opportunity to travel and do readings, but it was when she traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, that her talent was reaffirmed.
“The room was filled with over 200 people who didn’t mind that there were no seats left for them. They were happy to stand and listen to me read from both books,” she says.
Next, she received an email from two Folio Literary Management agents in New York City.
In no time, Chisala signed a three-book deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing worth ‘hundreds of thousands US dollars’.
Since then, she founded Khala Series, a monthly mentorship program for writers in Johannesburg.
All profits from this series are donated.
“Khala is my way of giving back to the community,” she says.
21. Joseph Awuah-Darko, 22, Ghana
In a dump site in Ghana near its capital Accra, Joseph Awuah-Darko stands holding a laptop in one hand and a face mask in another, like something out of an apocalypse movie.
He is dressed in orange overalls and there is e-waste as far as the eye can see; and the burning of the contents creates arid smoke in the background.
Darko is a contemporary artist, art collector and dealer and co-founder of the NGO, Agbogblo.Shine Initiative. The organization, which started in 2017, encourages people working at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture.
His aim was to highlight the importance of the, “circular economy in the face of electronic waste degradation”.
While enrolled at Ashesi University in Ghana, he began educating himself about the obscure art market.
His first major sale was a 3D-printed Ife Head he sold privately to a buyer for $11,000 in 2017. Since then, more clients kept coming, trading the value of trash wish cash and this resulted in him becoming the Managing Director of Africa Modern Art Fund at the young age of 22.
He presented a solo exhibition at Gallery1957; making him the youngest African contemporary artist to do so.
Prior to his contemporary art collector days, Darko was a musician under the alias ‘Okuntakinte’.
Darko is well on his way to getting a piece of the estimated $60 billion global contemporary art industry.
22. Joe ‘Human’ Nawaya, 25, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Graphic designer and Co-founder: Creative Mind Space
Joe ‘Human’ Nawaya was once enrolled for a degree in design at Pearson Institute in South Africa.
However, due to lack of finances, he had to drop out.
“At this point, I concluded that my life had stopped, I wasn’t going to be able to be anybody or make something of myself,” he tells FORBES AFRICA. However, this is not the design of his life as he was named Fast Company SA’s Top 20 Under 25 thanks to his passion and determination to pursue his first love, graphics and design.
His creative journey started when he was a child.
When his parents bought him a computer, the first application he used was paint.
Taking his passion to another level, he co-founded Creative Mind Space, together with his business partner Elliot Sithole.
It is an agency that focuses on creating content, designs, strategies, animation, and websites for brands.
Nawaya has been featured by Destiny Man as part of their Bold and Distinguished edition, positioning him as one of the most creative content creators in South Africa. Additionally, Nawaya went on to become a lifestyle ambassador for Bespoken Man, a gentleman grooming brand focused on lifestyle and experience.
While there, he worked with brands like Jameson Irish Whiskey, MINI Cooper and Savanna Dry.
Nawaya currently co-hosts #TheThreadedExchange with Siya Beyile, a former FORBES AFRICA 30 UNDER 30 list-maker, on CliffCentral.
He has also recently launched a podcast called Pioneers vs Pretenders on Lutcha, a digital podcasting company, which hosts a variety of podcasts online.
23. Thando Thabethe, 29, South Africa
Actress, TV Presenter, and Radio DJ
Thando Thabethe is a jack of all trades.
She’s a prominent name in South Africa’s entertainment industry and has come to take it all.
Her acting career rose to prominence in early 2014 after her role on the South African soapie, Generations: The Legacy.
Her radio career dates back to the early days of 2008, having presented on the radio station of the University of Johannesburg.
But today, both her radio and acting careers have blossomed.
She currently has her own weekday radio show called The Thabooty Drive.
As for her acting, she moved from the small screen to the big screen, starring in the 2016 film Mrs Right Guy, the 2018 film Housekeepers and most recently, the lead role in 2019’s box office hit Love Lives Here.
This year, she was nominated for best TV host and best talk show for Thando Bares All, which aired on TLC, and she walked away with the award for Best Talk show.
“Focus on your own focus. I think when you follow your heart and you follow your own passion, everything else follows and those that need recognize and follow it will,” she tells us.
Some of her achievements include being nominated for a SAFTA as the Best TV Presenter and for the Liberty Radio Awards as Best Drive Time presenter and for Best Drive Time Show.
24. Rich Fumani Mnisi, 27, South Africa
When Beyoncé Knowles-Carter came to South Africa for the Global Citizen Festival in December, she was spotted wearing items of clothing by local designer Rich Mnisi.
She was adorned in the custom RICH MNISI Rhundzu blouse and crocodile half-pleat skirt.
“Growing up, all I have always wanted to do was to design clothes that reflect my own energy and the love of coloring outside the lines. I have dreamed of my favorite icons wearing my clothes like any kid dreams of meeting their icons. Protect your dreams with all you have because they have the power to define your destiny,” he said in an Instagram post after celebrating the iconic musician wearing his clothes.
In the short amount of time that Mnisi has been in the fashion industry, he has turned heads in South Africa’s fashion industry and internationally, featuring in publications like Vogue Italia, GQ, Financial Times, Marie Claire, ELLE and Vogue Russia.
Mnisi is a graduate of LISOF (Leaders in the Science of Fashion) and was awarded the Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year 2014.
He also owns a furniture brand consisting of a chaise and a stool titled Nwa-Mulamula, after his late great-grandmother.
He is also the designer of the red Coca-Cola outfit worn by Karabo Poppy on the cover of the 2019 FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list.
25. Kevin Njue 27, Kenya
Producer, Director, Writer and CEO: Rocque Pictures
At university, Kevin Njue and his partner used his student loan of $200 to direct and produce a short film that he had written in hostel. The film, Sticking Ribbons, was released in 2013 and Njue went on to win the award for Best East African Talent at the 2014 Zanzibar International Film Festival.
Njue used the monetary reward of $1,000 to invest in his next short film, Intellectual Scum, which went on to screen in 15 film festivals globally.
“I was proud to thought-provoke the audience on the unequal racial relationships in Africa’s cultural and political landscape,” he tells FORBES AFRICA.
After gaining experience creating short films, Njue decided it was time to make bigger ones, a full-length feature film.
This ultimately led to him founding a business in 2016, Rocque Pictures.
With only enough money just to register the business, he knocked on doors while pitching his first feature film, 18 HOURS.
Of the $45,000 dollars needed, he managed to raise $13,000 from a university professor and an entrepreneur. In the end, the film was finished and launched in November 2017. It sold out at a cinema premiere in Nairobi.
In 2018, the film won the Best Overall Movie in Africa, Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, making history as the first Kenyan film to be nominated and win in the history of the awards.
“As the CEO of Rocque Pictures, the goal is to set up a state-of-the-art film studio with a sound stage, backlot, a film park and an underwater film stage in Nairobi by 2030,” he says.
26. Sho Madjozi, 27, South Africa
Sho Majozi won the hearts of South Africans in the early days of 2017 and seemingly, everything she touches burst into a euphoric cornucopia of color in celebration her African heritage.
She introduced herself to the world as a Tsonga rapper with hits like Gqi, Huku, Kona, Wakanda Forever, and recently Idhom, bringing the XiTsonga language into the mainstream.
“I can’t believe people tried to tell us we weren’t dope for so long, now they see…” she says.
She is an artist for the people and whenever she performs, her energy is infectious.
She has played at festivals such as Afropunk, opened for artists like Travis Scott and Jidenna, and not to mention one of her highlight performances at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa late last year.
The rising star was born Maya Wegerif in the small village of Shirley, deep in the province of the Limpopo province of South Africa.
After living in Tanzania, Senegal, and the US, Madjozi is fluent in Kiswahili, French and almost every South African language, making her pretty much a true global citizen.
Apart for her talented vocals, she also has a sense of style to match.
Her inspiration comes from the traditional Tsonga culture.
She has also teamed up with local designers to bring her first line of merchandise to fans, awakening her entrepreneurial spirit.
Her goal is to bring her culture to the world, which she continues to do so, staying true to her roots.
She was nominated for a BET Awards for Best New International Act, and recently bagged the Newcomer Of The Year and female artist of the year at the South African Music Awards.
27. Sarah Owusu, 28, Ghana
Artist and Painter
It all started in the summer of 2012 when living in London, and Sarah Owusu was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy which left the left side of her face paralyzed.
“During this very dark period of my life, I wouldn’t leave my house except for my hospital appointments, and a few weeks into my diagnosis, I got a sudden urge to paint although I hadn’t created anything for years,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
After gaining the courage to paint, she went to a cheap pound store and bought two blank canvases, cheap paint and brushes.
Owusu’s passion for art grew as she noticed the lack of black female artists in the industry.
One of the biggest highlights for the self-taught artist was last year when she was invited to present two of her paintings of the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, at the Africa Business Summit in London Business School.
“My future plans are to have my artwork exhibited across the African continent, starting from my place of origin, Ghana,” she says.
28. Abisola Akintunde, 28, Nigeria
Founder and Creative Director: MakeupbyAshabee and Beelashes
They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but for Abisola Akntunde, beauty is also in the brush stroke and makeup palette.
For three weeks, she worked for a dental clinic before deciding to venture into makeup full-time.
In 2012, she worked with M-Net Africa Magic doing make-up on a TV set while trying to set up her two businesses, Makeupbyashabee and Beelashes.
Soon enough, she started receiving bookings outside of her job at M-Net and had to quit and focus full-time on her entrepreneurial journey.
“It was a very bold and scary step because I was afraid I was going to leave a steady income for something not certain but like they say, ‘don’t be afraid’,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.
Akintunde took the bold step, bought her own car and set up her own studio and the rest has been a transformation for the better.
Since inception, MakeupbyAshabee has made up over 200 brides across Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, South Africa and Kenya.
While with Beelashes, she says she sells over 5,000 units of beauty lashes per quarter.
Akintunde has hired a staff of 20 and has trained over 50 interns between 2017 and now.
As part of her philanthropic efforts, she has partnered with the Archbishop Vining Anglican Church in Lagos to train young women in the art of makeup.
She has also partnered with AfribeautyHub to empower young women in Ibadan in Oyo State, Nigeria, on makeup.
“The next goal at MakeupbyAshabee is to learn permanent makeup, the art of micro-blading and ombré brows,” she says.
By doing this, she plans to bring something new to the table as micro-blading is an eyebrow embroidery procedure categorized under permanent makeup lasting for up to two years.
29. Yaa Bonsu, 28, Kenya
Fashion stylist and Creative
In 2017, Yaa Bonsu met international model Naomi Campbell who told her to believe in herself, and then signed a copy of her Vogue magazine.
Bonsu took her advice and has been climbing the international ladder in fashion since.
“I remember flipping through Vogue magazines when I was 15 years old and being engrossed in this glossy world. After I watched the film, The Devil Wears Prada, I knew the fashion world belonged to me,” she says.
Today, she spends her days with runway models, designers and in the thick of fashion shoots for some of those glossy magazines.
In 2016, she relocated to Dubai where her career in the fashion industry took off.
She connected with industry powerhouses such as Naomi Campbell, Zeynab El-Helw and Shashi Menon.
She has had the opportunity to style an advertorial for the luxury brand Fendi, SS19, in April 2019.
The same year, she produced a fashion editorial for Revolution magazine that featured high-end jewelry – Dior, de GRISOGONO, Bvlgari and Piaget, an achievement she says she is most proud of.
She has set her goals on becoming an internationally-renowned fashion powerhouse joining the leagues of icons Victoria Beckham, Edward Enninful and Vanessa Kingori.
30. Paola Audrey Ndengue, 29, Cote d’Ivoire
Host and Producer and Co-founder: FASHIZBLACK
Paola Audrey Ndengue is an entrepreneur and a creative with a higher calling.
Her mission has been to promote the French-speaking African creative scene to the world.
While studying in France, she became a fashion blogger and has since gained 10 years’ experience in digital media.
She is currently the co-founder and creative director of FASHIZBLACK, a magazine focused on black and African fashion, designers, beauty and lifestyle.
And her most recent venture is PANNELLE & Co, a PR creative marketing and content agency in 2013.
She has worked with several international clients and artists such as Kiff No Beat (Côte d’Ivoire), Stanley Enow (Cameroon), Boddhi Satva (Central African Republic) and Canabasse (Senegal).
Both businesses she is involved in led to her being recognized as a finalist at the CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards for the Young Business Leader of The Year in West Africa 2014.
Her growth since has been phenomenal and she has featured in numerous publications including Teen Vogue, CNN Africa and Forbes Afrique.
She is currently working on Maybelline’s first pan-African campaign, including several celebrities and influencers from Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.
She was recently appointed the marketing manager of the first MTV Shuga Côte d’Ivoire, an international show educating young viewers about HIV/AIDS, an opportunity that will enlarge Ndengue’s reach.
Forbes Africa #30Under30 List: Leading The Charge
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Pieter-Steph du Toit, 27,
South Africa Rugby player
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
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.
Nijel Amos, 26, Botswana
Track and field athlete
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Asisat Oshoala, 25, Nigeria
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
What do Davido, Burna Boy, Sarkodie, Mr Eazi, Patoranking, Diamond Platnumz, Morgan Heritage, Wande Coal and Maleek Berry all have in common?
Apart from directing 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 direct popular music videos such as Tomorrow by M.anifest featuring Burna Boy, Love coming down by Don EE featuring Davido and Odo Bi by Stonebwoy featuring Sarkodie.
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.
Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women
This is a first-of-its-kind Pan-African unranked compilation of the continent’s leading women, drawn from business, politics, media, science, sports and public life, who are challenging the status quo and creating a trail on terrain where there was none. They are reshaping history, closing inequalities and pioneering new avenues of wealth creation and in turn, lifting others with them.
This is a first-of-its-kind Pan-African unranked compilation of the continent’s leading women, drawn from business, politics, media, science, sports and public life, who are challenging the status quo and creating a trail on terrain where there was none. They are reshaping history, closing inequalities and pioneering new avenues of wealth creation and in turn, lifting others with them.
|GRACA MACHEL||SOUTH AFRICA||FOUNDER, GRACA MACHEL TRUST||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|CLARE AKAMANZI||RWANDA||CEO, RWANDA DEVELOPMENT BOARD||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT/GOVERNANCE|
|FOLORUNSO ALAKIJA||NIGERIA||EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIR, FAMFA OIL||OIL SECTOR|
|JENNIFER RIRIA||KENYA||GROUP CEO, ECHO NETWORK AFRICA (ENA); FOUNDING MEMBER, KENYA WOMEN FINANCE TRUST||FINANCE|
|LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO||RWANDA||SECRETARY GENERAL, ORGANISATION INTERNATIONALE DE LA FRANCOPHONIE (OIF)|
|AYA CHEBBI||TUNISIA||BLOGGER AND AFRICA UNION YOUTH ENVOY||MEDIA|
|ELSIE KANZA||TANZANIA||HEAD OF AFRICA AND MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM||FINANCE|
|IBUKUN AWOSIKA||NIGERIA||FOUNDER AND CEO, THE CHAIR CENTRE GROUP||MANUFACTURING|
|DR JUDY DLAMINI||SOUTH AFRICA||FOUNDER, MBEKANI GROUP||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|CHARLIZE THERON||SOUTH AFRICA||HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS||ENTERTAINMENT|
|CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE||NIGERIA||AUTHOR, PUBLIC SPEAKER||PUBLISHING|
|PHUTI MAHANYELE-DABENGWA||SOUTH AFRICA||CEO, NASPERS SOUTH AFRICA||TECHNOLOGY|
|OBIAGELI ‘OBY’ EZEKWESILI||NIGERIA||SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISOR, AFRICA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POLICY INITIATIVE (AEDPI)||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|GLENDA GRAY||SOUTH AFRICA||PRESIDENT AND CEO, SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (SAMRC)||HEALTHCARE|
|THULI MADONSELA||SOUTH AFRICA||LAW TRUST CHAIR, SOCIAL JUSTICE RESEARCH AT STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY||LAW|
|WENDY LUHABE||SOUTH AFRICA||SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR & CO-FOUNDER, WIPHOLD||FINANCE|
|ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO||BENIN||FOUR-TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNER||ENTERTAINMENT|
|MANAL ROSTOM||EGYPT||FOUNDER, SURVIVING HIJAB AND FACE OF NIKE PRO HIJAB||HEALTH AND FITNESS|
|LYDIA NSEKERA||BURUNDI||PRESIDENT, NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (NOC) OF BURUNDI AND MEMBER OF FIFA COUNCIL||SPORT/GOVERNANCE|
|WINNIE BYANYIMA||UGANDA||EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNAIDS||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA||NIGERIA||CHAIR, BOARD OF THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR VACCINES AND IMMUNISATION (GAVI)||HEALTHCARE|
|PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA||SOUTH AFRICA||EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNITED NATIONS (UN) WOMEN||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|WARIS DIRIE||SOMALIA||PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, DESERT FLOWER FOUNDATION||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF||LIBERIA||FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA, NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE||GOVERNANCE|
|YVONNE CHAKA CHAKA||SOUTH AFRICA||AWARD-WINNING MUSICIAN||ENTERTAINMENT|
|SAHLE-WORK ZEWDE||ETHIOPIA||PRESIDENT OF ETHIOPIA||GOVERNANCE|
|MAMOKGETHI (KGETHI) PHAKENG||SOUTH AFRICA||VICE-CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN (UCT)||EDUCATION|
|REBECCA ENONCHONG||CAMEROON||FOUNDER & CEO, APPSTECH||TECHNOLOGY|
|BONANG MATHEBA||SOUTH AFRICA||MEDIA PERSONALITY, ENTREPRENEUR||ENTERTAINMENT|
|FATMA SAMOURA||SENEGAL||SECRETARY-GENERAL, FIFA||SPORT|
|IRENE CHARNLEY||SOUTH AFRICA||FOUNDER, SMILE COMMUNICATIONS||TECHNOLOGY|
|UCHENNA ‘UCHE’ PEDRO||NIGERIA||FOUNDER AND CEO, BELLANAIJA||MEDIA|
|ILWAD ELMAN||SOMALIA||FOUNDER, ELMAN PEACE CENTRE||ACTIVISM|
|WENDY APPELBAUM||SOUTH AFRICA||FOUNDER AND CHAIRPERSON, DE MORGENZON WINE ESTATE||ENTREPRENEUR|
|OLAJUMOKE ADENOWO||NIGERIA||FOUNDER, AD CONSULTING||ADVERTISING|
|BETHLEHEM TILAHUN ALEMU||ETHIOPIA||FOUNDER AND CEO, SOLEREBELS FOOTWEAR, GARDEN OF COFFEE, TEFFTASTIC||ENTREPRENEUR|
|NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA||SOUTH AFRICA||MINISTER OF COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS, SOUTH AFRICA||GOVERNANCE|
|WENDY ACKERMAN||SOUTH AFRICA||EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PICK ‘N PAY||RETAIL|
|CASTER SEMENYA||SOUTH AFRICA||OLYMPIC CHAMPION||SPORT|
|RAWYA MANSOUR||EGYPT||FOUNDER AND CEO, RAMSCO||AGRICULTURE|
|ARUNMA OTEH||NIGERIA||ACADEMIC SCHOLAR, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD FORMER TREASURER AND VICE PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE AFRICA ADVISORY GROUP MEMBER||FINANCE|
|FATOU BENSOUDA||GAMBIA||PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)||LAW|
|HAJER SHARIEF||LIBYA||HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE||ACTIVISM|
|AMINA J. MOHAMMED||NIGERIA||DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|PRECIOUS MOTSEPE||SOUTH AFRICA||FOUNDER, AFRICAN FASHION INTERNATIONAL||FASHION|
|LUPITA NYONG’O||KENYA||OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR||ENTERTAINMENT|
|VERA SONGWE||CAMEROON||EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR AFRICA||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
|MAGDA WIERZYCKA||SOUTH AFRICA||FOUNDER, SYGNIA||FINANCE|
|TARA FELA-DUROTOYE||NIGERIA||FOUNDER, HOUSE OF TARA INTERNATIONAL||BEAUTY|
|THERESA KACHINDAMOTO||MALAWI||CHIEF OF DEDZA DISTRICT||SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT|
Africa’s Richest 2020: Steady State With Some Volatility On The Margins
Like elsewhere in the world, fortunes in Africa can be volatile, thanks to changes like a new currency.
Africa’s billionaires are as a group richer than a year ago. Altogether, the continent’s 20 billionaires are worth a combined $73.4 billion, up from $68.7 billion a year ago.
For the ninth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the richest person in Africa, worth an estimated $10.1 billion, down from $10.3 billion a year ago amid a slightly lower stock price for his Dangote Cement, his largest holding. The much-heralded oil refinery that Dangote is building in Nigeria is still at least a year away from completion.
Nassef Sawiris of Egypt is the new number two richest, worth $8 billion—up from $6.3 billion last year. Sawiris’ most valuable asset is a stake in shoemaker Adidas worth a recent $4 billion. The increase in Adidas’ share price alone added nearly $1.5 billion to his fortune since January 2019. He also owns a significant stake in fertilizer producer OCI N.V. In 2019, Sawiris and U.S. investor Wes Edens purchased the remaining stake they didn’t own in U.K. Premier League team Aston Villa Football Club.
Number three on the list is Nigeria’s Mike Adenuga, worth $7.7 billion. He owns mobile phone network GloMobile as well as oil producer Conoil and extensive real estate holdings.
One member of this elite group is worth 50% less than a year ago. Due primarily to the introduction of a new (weaker) currency in Zimbabwe, Strive Masiyiwa’s fortune fell to $1.1 billion from $2.3 billion in January 2019. Zimbabwe, which has battled with hyperinflation, had been using the U.S. dollar as its currency, but in 2019 it switched to its own currency, initially called the RTGS. When converted into U.S. dollars, the values of Masiyiwa’s stakes in Zimbabwe-listed mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and Cassava Smartech fell dramatically in dollar terms.
Just two of the 20 billionaires are women: Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos; and Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria. Dos Santos’ fortune has declined to an estimated $2.2 billion, down $100 million from a year ago. In late December, an Angola court issued an order to freeze the assets that Isabel dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, own in Angola. Those include her stake in telecom firm Unitel and stakes in two Angolan banks; Forbes estimates those assets are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A statement issued by Isabel dos Santos said the judgment contained “a number of untruths” and that she would fight the decision “by using all the instruments of Angolan and international law at my disposal.”
Country rankings are unchanged from a year ago: Egypt and South Africa are tied with five billionaires each, followed by Nigeria with four and Morocco with two. Forbes found one billionaire each from Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. That’s the same as last year but a better representation than nine years ago, when only four African nations were home to ten-figure fortunes.
Our list tracks the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary businesses there, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen, and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen. (Strive Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appears on the list due to his expansive telecom holdings in Africa; Isabel dos Santos, a citizen of Angola, has been living in Europe but retains assets in Angola—although they were recently frozen by a court in Angola.) We calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, January 10, 2020. To value privately held businesses, we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. Some list members grow richer or poorer within weeks—or days—of our measurement date.
– Written by Kerry A. Dolan
Africa’s Billionaires List
- Aliko Dangote
Net worth: $10.1 billion
Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar
Education: Al-Azhar University, Bachelor of Arts/Science
Dangote, Africa’s richest man, founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer. He owns nearly 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company. Dangote Cement produces 45.6 million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa. Dangote also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies. Dangote Refinery has been under construction for three years and is expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries once complete.
Did You Know?
Dangote’s grandfather was a successful trader of rice and oats in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city.
Dangote told Forbes that when he was young, he bought sweets, gave them to others to sell, and he kept the profits.
2. Nassef Sawiris
Net worth: $8 billion
Origin of wealth: Construction, chemicals
Education: University of Chicago
Nassef Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His brother Naguib is also a billionaire. Sawiris split Orascom Construction Industries into two entities in 2015: OCI and Orascom Construction. He runs OCI, one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, with plants in Texas and Iowa; it trades on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange. Orascom Construction, an engineering and building firm, trades on the Cairo exchange and Nasdaq Dubai. His holdings include stakes in cement giant Lafarge Holcim and Adidas; he sits on the supervisory board of Adidas.
Did You Know?
A University of Chicago graduate, he donated $24.1 million to the school in 2019 to aid Egyptian students and fund an executive education program.
Nassef Sawiris teamed up with Fortress Investment Group’s Wes Edens to purchase a majority stake in Aston Villa Football Club.
3. Mike Adenuga
Net worth: $7.7 billion
Origin of wealth: Telecom, oil
Education: Pace University, Master of Business
Adenuga, Nigeria’s second richest man, built his fortune in telecom and oil production. His mobile phone network, Globacom, is the third largest operator in Nigeria, with 43 million subscribers. His oil exploration outfit, Conoil Producing, operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta. Adenuga got an MBA at Pace University in New York, supporting himself as a student by working as a taxi driver. He made his first million at age 26 selling lace and distributing soft drinks.
4. Nicky Oppenheimer
Net worth: $7.7 billion
Origin of wealth: Diamonds
Country: South Africa
Education: Oxford University Christ Church, Master of Arts/Science
Oppenheimer, heir to his family’s fortune, sold his 40% stake in diamond firm DeBeers to mining group Anglo American for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012. He was the third generation of his family to run DeBeers, and took the company private in 2001. For 85 years until 2012, the Oppenheimer family occupied a controlling spot in the world’s diamond trade. In 2014, Oppenheimer started Fireblade Aviation in Johannesburg, which operates chartered flights with its fleet of three planes and two helicopters. He owns at least 720 square miles of conservation land across South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Did You Know?
Oppenheimer owns Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private game reserve in South Africa.
Oppenheimer is a sports fan and plays squash, golf and cricket. Notepads in his office read: “Things I must do before cricket”.
5.Johann Rupert & family
Net worth: $6.5 billion
Origin of wealth: Luxury goods
Country: South Africa
Residence: Cape Town
Rupert is chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont. The company is best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc. It was formed in 1998 through a spinoff of assets owned by Rembrandt Group Limited (now Remgro Limited), which his father Anton formed in the 1940s. He owns a 7% stake in diversified investment firm Remgro, which he chairs, as well as 25% of Reinet, an investment holding co. based in Luxembourg. In recent years, Rupert has been a vocal opponent of plans to allow fracking in the Karoo, a region of South Africa where he owns land.
Did You Know?
He also owns part of the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother.
Rupert says his biggest regret was not buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so for just $175 million.
6.Issad Rebrab & family
Net worth: $4.4 billion
Origin of wealth: Food
Issad Rebrab is the founder and CEO of Cevital, Algeria’s biggest privately-held company. Cevital owns one of the largest sugar refineries in the world, with the capacity to produce 2 million tons a year. Cevital owns European companies, including French home appliances maker Groupe Brandt, an Italian steel mill and a German water purification company. After serving eight months in jail on charges of corruption, Rebrab was released on January 1, 2020. He denies any wrongdoing.
Did You Know?
Rebrab is the son of militants who fought for Algeria’s independence from France.
Cevital helped finance a biopic on Algerian resistance hero Larbi Ben M’hidi, who was executed by the French in 1957.
Net worth: $3.3 billion
Origin of wealth: Diversified
Education: Auburn University, Master of Business Administration
Mansour oversees family conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (D.1976) in 1952 and has 60,000 employees. Mansour established General Motors dealerships in Egypt in 1975, later becoming one of GM’s biggest distributors worldwide. Mansour Group also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and seven other African countries. He served as Egypt’s Minister of Transportation from 2006 to 2009 under the Hosni Mubarak regime. His brothers Yasseen and Youssef, who share ownership in the family group, are also billionaires; his son Loutfy heads private equity arm Man Capital.
Net worth: $3.1 billion
Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar
Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in cement production, sugar refining and real estate. In early January 2020, Rabiu merged his privately-owned Obu Cement company with listed firm Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria, which he controlled. The combined firm, called BUA Cement Plc, trades on the Nigerian stock exchange; Rabiu owns 98.5% of it. Rabiu, the son of a businessman, inherited land from his father. He set up his own business in 1988 importing iron, steel and chemicals.
Net worth: $3 billion
Origin of wealth: Telecom
Education: Swiss Federal Polytechnical Institute, Master of Science; Swiss Federal Polytechnical Institute, Bachelor of Arts/Science
Naguib Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His brother Nassef is also a billionaire. He built a fortune in telecom, selling Orascom Telecom in 2011 to Russian telecom firm VimpelCom (now Veon) in a multibillion-dollar transaction. He’s chairman of Orascom TMT Investments, which has stakes in a major asset manager in Egypt and an Italian internet company, among others. Family holding La Mancha has stakes in Evolution Mining, Endeavour Mining and Golden Star Resources, which operate gold mines in Africa and Australia. Sawiris is a majority owner in Euronews. He’s also developed a luxury resort called Silversands in Grenada.
Did You Know?
Sawiris helped found The Free Egyptians, a liberal political party, at the onset of Egypt’s uprisings in 2011.
In 2015, he offered to buy a Greek or Italian island to house Syrian refugees, but Greece and Italy turned him down.
Net worth: $2.6 billion
Origin of wealth: Mining
Country: South Africa
Motsepe, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, became a billionaire in 2008 – the first black African on the Forbes list. In 2016, he launched a new private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital, focused on investing in Africa. Motsepe also has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and is the president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. He became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, and then started a contracting business doing mine scut work. In 1994, he bought low-producing gold mine shafts and later turned them profitable.
11. Koos Bekker
Net worth: $2.5 billion
Origin of wealth: Media, investments
Country: South Africa
Residence: Cape Town
Education: Columbia Business School, Master of Business Administration; University of Witwatersrand, LLB
Bekker is revered for transforming South African newspaper publisher Naspers into an ecommerce investor and cable TV powerhouse. He led Naspers to invest in Chinese Internet and media firm Tencent in 2001 – by far the most profitable of the bets he made on companies elsewhere. In 2019, Naspers put some assets into two publicly-traded companies, entertainment firm MultiChoice Group and Prosus, which contains the Tencent stake. It sold a 2% stake in Tencent in March 2018, its first time reducing its holding, but stated at the time it would not sell again for three years. Bekker, who retired as the CEO of Naspers in March 2014, returned as chairman in April 2015.
Did You Know?
His Babylonstoren estate, nearly 600 acres in South Africa’s Western Cape region, features architecture dating back to 1690, a farm, orchard and vineyard and more.
Over the summer of 2015, he sold more than 70% of his Naspers shares.
Net worth: $2.3 billion
Origin of wealth: Diversified
Education: George Washington University,
Bachelor of Arts/Science
Mansour is a shareholder in family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (d.1976) in 1952. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. His brothers Mohamed and Youssef are also billionaires and part owners of Mansour Group. He’s chairman of Palm Hills Developments, one of Egypt’s biggest real estate developers.
Did You Know?
Mansour Group is the sole franchisee of McDonald’s in Egypt, as well as the distributor of Gauloises cigarettes.
13.Isabel dos Santos
Net worth: $2.2 billion
Origin of wealth: Investments
Education: King’s College London, Bachelor of Arts/Science
Dos Santos is the oldest daughter of Angola’s longtime former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in fall 2017. Her father made her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm, in June 2016, but Angola’s new president removed her from that role in November 2017. Forbes research found that while Isabel’s father was president, she ended up with stakes in Angolan companies including banks and a telecom firm. She owns shares of Portuguese companies, including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS. A spokesperson for Isabel told Forbes that she “is an independent business woman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.” In December 2019, an Angolan court issued an order freezing her stakes in Angolan companies, part of a suit about funds she owes to the state oil firm.
Did You Know?
Isabel dos Santos is nicknamed “the princess” in Angola.
Santos’ mother, Tatiana Kukanova, met her father while he was a student in Azerbaijan. The couple later divorced.
Net worth: $1.9 billion
Origin of wealth: Diversified
Education: Auburn University, Master of Business Administration; North Carolina State University, Bachelor of Science in Engineering
Mansour is chairman of family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (d.1976) in 1952. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. He oversees the consumer goods division, which includes supermarket chain Metro, and sole distribution rights for L’Oreal in Egypt. Younger brothers Mohamed and Yasseen are also billionaires and part owners of Mansour Group.
Did You Know?
Former Egypt President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized his father’s original cotton trading business.
Mansour is a founding member of the American Egyptian Chamber of Commerce.
15. Aziz Akhannouch
Net worth: $1.7 billion
Origin of wealth: Petroleum, diversified
Education: Universite de Sherbrooke, Master of Business Administration
Aziz Akhannouch is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate founded by his father and a partner, Ahmed Wakrim, in 1932. It has interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals through publicly-traded Afriquia Gaz and Maghreb Oxygene. Akhannouch is Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the president of a royalist political party.
Did You Know?
His wife Salwa Idrissi runs her own company, which has franchises for Gap, Gucci and Ralph Lauren in Morocco.
Net worth: $1.6 billion
Origin of wealth: Diversified
Residence: Dar es Salaam
Mohammed Dewji is the CEO of MeTL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. MeTL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. MeTL operates in at least six African countries and has ambitions to expand to several more. Dewji, Tanzania’s only billionaire, signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes. Dewji was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in October 2018 and released after nine days.
Did You Know?
Dewji retired from Tanzania’s parliament in early 2015 after completing two terms.
Dewji, who is known as Mo (short for Mohammed), launched Mo Cola several years ago to compete with Coca Cola.
Net worth: $1.4 billion
Origin of wealth: Banking, insurance
Education: Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Diploma
Benjelloun is CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa, which has a presence in more than 20 African countries. His father was a shareholder in RMA Watanya, a Moroccan insurance company; Benjelloun built it into a leading insurer. Through his holding company FinanceCom, he has a stake in the Moroccan arm of French telecom firm Orange. He inaugurated in 2014 a $500 million plan to build the 55-story Mohammed VI Tower in Rabat. It will be one of the tallest buildings in Africa. FinanceCom is part of a project to develop a multibillion-dollar tech city in Tangiers that is expected to host 200 Chinese companies.
Did You Know?
He co-owns Ranch Adarouch, one of the biggest cattle breeders in Africa.
Benjelloun and his wife received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award for building schools in rural Morocco in 2016.
18.Michiel Le Roux
Net worth: $1.3 billion
Origin of wealth: Banking
Country: South Africa
Le Roux of South Africa founded Capitec Bank in 2001 and owns about an 11% stake. The bank, which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, targets South Africa’s emerging middle class. He served as chairman of the board of Capitec from 2007 to 2016 and has continued on as a board member. Le Roux previously ran Boland Bank, a small regional bank in Cape Town’s hinterland.
Did You Know?
The bank has more than 800 branches and over 13,000 employees.
Fellow South African Jannie Mouton’s PSG Group owns a 30% stake in Capitec Bank.
Net worth: $1.1 billion
Origin of wealth: Telecom
Education: University of Wales, Bachelor of Engineering
Masiyiwa overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998. He owns just over 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group. Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa. His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa. He and his wife Tsitsi founded the Higherlife Foundation, which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.
Did You Know?
After studying at university in Britain, Masiyiwa worked at ZPTC, Zimbabwe’s phone company.
He left ZPTC to start an engineering services firm, then sold it and founded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, but had to battle the government in court for years
Net worth: $1 billion
Origin of wealth: Oil
Folorunso Alakija is vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras. Alakija’s first company was a fashion label whose customers included the wife of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida. The Nigerian government awarded Alakija’s company an oil prospecting license in 1993, which was later converted to an oil mining lease. The Agbami field has been operating since 2008; Famfa Oil says it will likely operate through 2024.
What It’s Like Meeting Africa’s Richest Man
FORBES AFRICA journalist Peace Hyde says she first interviewed Aliko Dangote in Nigeria about three years ago for the popular FORBES AFRICA show, My Worst Day With Peace Hyde, airing on CNBC Africa, and has since had the privilege of meeting and speaking with him several times at both official and private functions.
“Dangote is someone who is extremely focused and driven with a bullish passion for Africa. For him, the goal is to dream as big and as grandiose as you can when it comes to the future of Africa because he believes, we have the human capital and resources to transform our continent. Everything is possible in his mind. His approach to business is testament to this fact.”
The largest employer in Africa’s most populous economy, he is also seen as a stabilizing force within the economies of several countries across the African continent. His story, however, has not been without failure.
“Dangote has had his fair share of ups and downs. But his advice to young entrepreneurs is having the ability to delay gratification and work hard through tough times so they can enjoy the fruits of their labor at a later date,” says Hyde.
Through the Dangote Foundation, which has the objective of reducing the number of lives lost to malnutrition and disease as well as combating Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children, thousands of children have been saved from the brink of death.
Dangote is also known as a man of few words. “I have seen him spend an entire afternoon answering questions about his business to a room of MBA graduates and proceeding to take pictures with everyone before leaving.
“You will not find any of the obvious trappings of wealth like flashy cars or a big entourage with him and he takes the time to speak to anyone who approaches him at a function,” adds Hyde.
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