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Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent

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Sector: Biotechnology
Dineo Lioma, 28, South Africa
Co-founder and COO of CapeBio Technologies; and Founder of Deep Medical Therapeutics

Dineo Lioma, Co-founder and COO of CapeBio Technologies; and Founder of Deep Medical Therapeutics. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Twenty eight-year-old Dineo Lioma may be young but has already achieved what most millennials  only dream of.

She co-founded three companies and currently runs two of them.

Lioma always saw herself contributing to the global biotechnology industry.

She holds an MPhil in Micro- and Nanotechnology Enterprise, with distinction, from the University of Cambridge. She also holds a BSc in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, which she passed with 24 distinctions, at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“My ultimate vision for Africa is that it transforms into a world-class economy that is able to be one of the key players in the advancement of science and the creation of wealth,” she tells FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

One of the companies she currently runs is CapeBio Technologies that manufactures and distributes laboratory reagent enzymes used in molecular biology research.

“Scientists can use these enzymes to clone, cut and manipulate DNA,” Lioma says.

The enzymes are sourced from biodiversity hotspots, particularly the Western Cape, making CapeBio Technologies the first local manufacturer and distributor of these enzymes in the country.

“These genetic hotspots have unique genetic information you can extract and use that to manufacture commercial products. So, the hotspots where we source these are very unique to South Africa… and perform extremely well.”

The product has been tested by over 300 researchers at universities in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Nigeria.

The second company she founded over a year ago in partnership with IBM and that she also runs is Deep Medical Therapeutics.

It is a social enterprise that builds artificial intelligent (AI) solutions to assist medical practitioners to make more informed and accurate therapy recommendations in resource-limited settings.

“We want to use TB (tuberculosis) data coupled with artificial intelligence without extracting information around how TB mutates, also to figure out how to fast pace the most appropriate treatment,” she says.

In other words, they use AI to make decisions on how to treat drug-resistant diseases such as TB, based on the patient’s genetic profile.

“We want to build a system that detects at the point of care, what strain of TB you have, and which medication will be most appropriate for your body type,” she says.

They are currently in the research phase and have built a prototype app with a training model to pick up the patterns of genetic mutation.

The driven millennial also co-founded Incitech in 2014. It is a medical diagnostics company developing a rapid HIV diagnostic device to improve testing outcomes.

Currently completing her second Masters at the University of the Witwatersrand, Lioma plans to make a positive impact on the continent.

She also serves as the Vice President of the Ventures portfolio for the Association of Allan Gray Fellows, an NPO focused on developing entrepreneurs to improve socio-economic challenges in Africa.


Sector: E-commerce
Jessica Anuna, 27, Nigeria
Founder and CEO: Klasha

Jessica Anuna, Founder and CEO of Klasha. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Jessica Anuna turned her passion for fashion into an income stream through the e-commerce platform Klasha.

The Nigerian, who grew up in London, founded Klasha in 2017 with an investment of $120,000 from Techstars Dubai, an international startup accelerator, funding and mentorship organization.

She was also named by Management Today as one of their 35 Women Under 35 to watch, and the US embassy in London named her one of its global leaders.

It took years of exploring and traveling before Anuna founded her first business venture.

Growing up in London, Anuna learned French and  Mandarin.

She obtained a Bachelor of Honours degree in Journalism at City, University of London in 2013 and then went on to study Mandarin full time.

She then worked for organizations like NET-A-PORTER, Amazon and Shopify Plus, which gave her an understanding of the world of e-commerce.

At the age of 23, Anuna decided to live in China to learn how the Chinese did business.

“I noticed that China was booming and I wanted to be part of that story,” she tells FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

This led Anuna to start an Fast-Moving Consumer Goods export company specialising in textiles.

She would source fashion and beauty products from factories in the Guangdong province in China, considered to be at the center of China’s export-led manufacturing industries. She would then ship the items to clients in the UK and US.

She returned home to Nigeria in 2016 to see how she could expand her business in China to Africa.

Researching and talking to people on the ground, she found it was difficult for millennials to shop fashion goods in the country and they had to travel all the way to the UK or the US to buy them.

“Those that would go on online platforms would have to wait 21 to 30 days to receive their goods,” she says.

“A lot of them were also not able to pay online in their local currencies.”

With a background in e-commerce, fashion and manufacturing, Anuna launched Klasha in 2017 as a platform for fast fashion retailers serving millennials in Africa.

She set up a warehouse in Lagos and through Klasha, clients can buy fast fashion items in South African rand, Nigeria naira, Kenyan shillings, Ghanaian cedi and three international currencies, with a delivery time of one to five days.

Anuna was accepted into the Alibaba eFounders program. and traveled back to China to learn how to leverage off e-commerce on the African continent.

Anuna currently employs a team of six women, all under the age of 27.

“I do believe Africa has the power to change and be a force economically…

“For me, being a new wealth  creator means creating economic opportunities for females on the ground in Africa,” she says.

With branches in Dubai and Lagos, the 27-year-old spends her time between the two countries and plans to make Africa one of the global players in the fast fashion industry.

She is set on changing the African fashion and e-commerce landscape, one currency at a time.


Sector: Supply chain logistics
Miishe Addy, 38, Ghana
Co-founder and CEO: Jetstream Africa

Miishe Addy, Co-founder and CEO of Jetstream Africa. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Miishe Addy was born in Texas. In 1987, after the ‘Ghana Must Go’ revolution, she visited Ghana with her family and found some of her relatives leaving the country because there wasn’t enough food, medicine or jobs.

Since then, Ghana has changed significantly, and so has Addy.

“Throughout my life, I have been seeing connections between how Africans in the diaspora are treated and the economic power (or lack thereof) that Africans, especially black Africans, have,” she says.

She studied law at Stanford in the US and also taught herself to code.

In 2017, she took it upon herself to be part of the solution.

Addy taught business at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology Africa, an entrepreneurial training program, seed fund and incubator for African tech startups in Ghana.

While there, she met speaker Solomon Torgbor, who taught students supply chain logistics and its importance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Addy found it fascinating and continued to research it.

She found that logistics in Africa is more expensive than anywhere else in the world.

The two set out to establish a company to solve this problem.

They identified farms, cooperatives and factories in Africa that are ready and willing to participate in the global trade but needed assistance with distribution outside their home market.

Jetstream Africa was born. It’s a data-driven supply chain platform that makes global logistics easy for African suppliers, and is designed for small-scale farmers, to be part of global export trade markets.

Farmers log into the Jetstream Africa app and are able to sell their agricultural produce on an international scale, a problem that many small-scale African farmers find difficult.

In 2018, the company hit the road running.

“If there’s a buyer who wants 20 metric tonnes of cocoa powder from a farm in Ghana, we first figure out if he has capacity on a given date, and then to actually book the order to know how much it costs in almost real time,” Addy says.

They consolidate the freight, take care of the export paperwork and move the product from the supplier to the buyer.

Jetstream Africa is currently building a data platform that estimates how much produce they can buy by looking at analytical data on crop yields, pricing and external factors that can affect yields.

They have managed to export farmers’ goods to the US and the UK.

 They are planning on exporting to Hong Kong this year.

With a team of only five, Addy says they have managed to integrate 5,039 African laborers and processors into the global market since last year with  products such as cocoa, baobab and  shea.

 “I think there is an opportunity for a company like Jetstream Africa to tie together the farm, the factory, the customs agent, the shipper, all  on a unified platform so that goods move more efficiently, and I think this is the only place in the world where that’s possible,” she says.

“For the 21st century, wealth creation, in my view, has to be around egalitarian empowerment. And so, it is not about giving the one percent even more money than they already have. It is about spreading the wealth among a whole lot of different people… wealth creation is not just about numbers, but it is about people.”

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Cover Story

Forbes Africa | 8 Years And Growing

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As FORBES AFRICA celebrates eight years of showcasing African entrepreneurship, we look back on our stellar collection of cover stars, ranging from billionaires to space explorers to industrialists, self-made multi-millionaire businessmen and social entrepreneurs working for Africa. They tell us what they are doing now, how their businesses have grown, and where the continent is headed. 

Since its inception in 2011, and despite the changing trends in the publishing industry, FORBES AFRICA has managed to stay relevant, insightful and sought-after, unpacking compelling stories of innovation and entrepreneurship on the youngest continent, in which 60% of the population is aged under 25 years.

 Many of those innovations have been solutions-driven as young entrepreneurs across the continent seek to answer questions that have burdened their communities.

 Always on the pulse, FORBES AFRICA has chronicled and celebrated those innovations – prompting the rest of the globe to pay attention and be fully engaged.

 A prime example of this is the annual 30 Under 30 list, which showcases entrepreneurs and trailblazers under the age of 30 from business, technology, creatives and sports. In 2019, we had 120 entrepreneurs on the list, finalized after a rigorous vetting and due diligence process to well laid down criteria.

 We have always maintained the highest standards of integrity in all our reporting.

 As we transition into the next milestone, FORBES AFRICA reflects on the words of civil rights activist Benjamin Elijah Mays, who once said: “The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much, but doing too little. Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity. It’s not failure but aiming too low, that is life’s greatest tragedy.”

 With the transformation in the media landscape, the recent awards given to the magazine for the work done by a hard-working, determined and youthful team, serve as a reminder that we are doing something right.

 Early this year, FORBES AFRICA journalist Karen Mwendera received a Sanlam award for financial journalism as the first runner-up in the ‘African Growth Story’ category. In January, FORBES AFRICA’s Managing Editor, Renuka Methil, received the ‘World Woman Super Achiever Award’ from the Global HRD Congress.

 In reflecting on the last eight years, this edition revisits a few of the strong, resilient men and women who have graced our covers.

For some, fortunes have literally changed, as witnessed in the fall of gargantuan African empires such as Steinhoff. Of course, there have been massive moments of triumph too, which have seen some new names feature on the annual African Billionaires List. There have also been moments of tragedy with former cover stars passing away.

 Africa is ripe for the taking and is seen as the next economic frontier. The unique position the continent finds itself in will no doubt give FORBES AFRICA plenty to report on. Here’s to more deadlines and debates for the next eight years.

– Unathi Shologu

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Mastercard: Diligent About Digital In Africa

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Mastercard knows only too well that technology can drive inclusive financial growth with simpler and more efficient ways to do business and life. And Raghu Malhotra, the man spearheading this trajectory in Africa, is also focused on social progress.


In many ways, Raghu Malhotra is like the brand he works for, leaving his footprints in different parts of the world, and in some cases, the most unlikely corners.

On a scorching summer’s day in June 2016, Malhotra traveled 100km east of Jordan’s capital city Amman, to a camp with white tents named Azraq built for the refugees of the Syrian Civil War.

In the desert terrain and hot, windy conditions, people had to queue for hours on end for plates of food handed out of visiting trucks. But some of them, displaced and homeless overnight, expressed their gratitude to Malhotra, President for Mastercard in the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

Mastercard, a technology company that engages in the global payments industry, had distributed e-cards, as part of a global collaboration with the World Food Programme, to the refugees that they could now use to purchase food and other supplies from local shops.

READ MORE | The Big Bank Theory: South Africa’s Banks Of The Future

 “I spoke to the people myself and saw what their lives were… Even those who were doctors with their families and were displaced… They said to me ‘you have restored dignity to our lives; you have no idea how demeaning it is to queue up to be given food’… We actually digitized how that subsidy for food was given. Some of these things go beyond economics,” says Malhotra. 

Beyond economics.

That very simply sums up Malhotra’s mandate for Africa as well.

The New York-headquartered Mastercard, ranked No. 43 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands, with a market cap of $247 billion, which connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and business, is fostering key partnerships across the African continent to help drive inclusive economic growth.

The idea, Malhotra says, “is to get our global skill-set to operate in its most efficient form in every local economy, at the same time, we must do good, and it must be sustainable.”

He calls Africa the next bastion of growth for various industries.

“As a company, we have stated we are going to get 500 million new consumers globally. And Africa plays a big part of that whole story… We want to be an integral part of various economies here,” says the man responsible for driving Mastercard’s global strategy across 69 markets.

Raghu Malhotra President for Mastercard in the Middle East and Africa. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

“It probably took us over 20 years to get the first 50 million new consumers, in my part of the world, which is the Middle East and Africa (MEA). It took us probably five years to get the next 50 million, and last year alone, we put over 50 million consumers [in the formal economy] in MEA. That is part of our whole African story, so this is just not rhetoric; we are actually building our business on that basis.”

Home to four of the world’s top five fastest-growing economies, Africa has the fastest urbanization rate in the world, the youngest population, and a rapidly expanding middle class predicted to increase business and consumer spending.

It’s a continent of opportunity for global players like Mastercard with an eye on the potential of a booming consumer base and small and medium entrepreneurs, most of whom are still not a part of the formal economy. A large proportion of Africa is still unbanked. There is enough business opportunity in offering people digital tools so they can lead respectable financial lives.

READ MORE | The Monk Of Business: Ylias Akbaraly Talks About Secret To Success And Plans To Take Africa With Him

But it is in knowing that financial inclusion is not just about technology, but more about solving bigger problems, as the World Bank says in its overview for Africa: “Achieving higher inclusive growth and reaping the benefits of a demographic dividend will require going beyond a business as usual approach to development for Africa. Going forward, it is imperative that the region undertakes the following four actions, concurrently: invest more and better in its people; leapfrog into the 21st century digital and high-tech economy; harness private finance and know-how to fill the infrastructure gap; and build resilience to fragility and conflict and climate change.”

And in order to enable financial access, Mastercard has a balanced strategy in place, with the right partnerships for inclusive growth on the continent, Malhotra tells FORBES AFRICA.

“Every emerging market has different segments of people and you need to get the right product for the right segment. What we do is a balanced growth strategy across the continent based on timing, opportunity etc… Of course, because the bottom of the pyramid is much bigger, I think what we need is to adapt things differently; that is where the inclusive growth story comes from. That is where the opportunity is, but there is a second part to it…” And that, he summarizes, is advancing sustainable growth, doing good and bringing more transparency and efficiency.

The new pragmatic dispensation of governments in Africa towards ideas, technology and innovation has surely helped open up the stage to newer segment-driven products, especially as Africa already has such global laurels as Safaricom’s mobile money transfer and micro-financing service M-Pesa that took financial access to a whole new level. Also, sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world.

READ MORE | Feisty And Fearless Pioneers Thandi Ndlovu & Nonkululeko Gobodo

Malhotra says he finds African governments consistent in how they are rolling out their digital vision, and in trying to collaborate towards creating better ecosystems for their economies, though each is unique with its own dossier of problems.

“When I speak to various governments around Africa, I see a commonality of what their needs are and I also see a commonality in how they are trying to respond. So I think a lot of them realize running cash economies is a very inefficient way of doing things… Also, the consumer base is much more open to new technology because there is no bedded infrastructure or legacy infrastructure. I think where governments need to start thinking a bit more is how much do they want to do completely on their own.”

Part of this transformation on the path to financial progress is alleviating the burden of cash. Cash still accounts for most consumer payments in Africa. Mastercard, which started out as synonymous with credit cards, continues its efforts to convert consumers from cash to electronic transactions, and move beyond plastic.

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Cover Story

Pioneer For Women In Construction Thandi Ndlovu has died

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The cover of the August (Women’s Month) edition of Forbes Africa beautifully captures the essence of the woman I interviewed only a few weeks ago. Gracious, soft-spoken, brimming with life and energy. Dr Thandi Ndlovu impressed the entire Forbes crew on that afternoon cover shoot with her broad smile, and open yet powerful demeanor.

It is with great sadness that Forbes Africa heard of the accident that took her life on Saturday the 24 August 2019.

READ MORE |COVER: Feisty And Fearless Pioneers Thandi Ndlovu & Nonkululeko Gobodo

She had given so much to South Africa and its people – through the apartheid years and during the 25 years of democracy, literally building a better future, first through her medical practice at Orange Farm and then through her company, Motheo Construction Group and the scholarships for tertiary education granted by her Motheo Children’s Foundation.

That sunny winter’s afternoon, I asked her if she, at the age of 65, was considering retirement, and she laughed. A lively, amiable laugh. She told me she was healthy and strong and easily worked 12 to 13 hour days.

READ MORE | WATCH | Making Of The Women’s Month Cover: Thandi Ndlovu & Nonkululeko Gobodo

She loved hiking, and has climbed Kilimanjaro twice, reached the base camps of Mount Everest and Annapurna in Nepal. At the time of the interview, she was training to climb Machu Picchu, the famed ruins in Peru’s mountains.

One of her biggest passions was to make a difference in people’s lives and to motivate people to achieve the best they could. The other was to redress the racial tensions that still remained in South Africa.

Dr Thandi Ndlovu, South Africa is poorer for your passing.

-Jill De Villiers

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