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

Karen Mwendera



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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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