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

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Sector: Bee farming and recycling
Patrice Murugi, 23, Kenya
Founder and CEO: Patvention Recycling Enterprise

Patrice Murugi, Founder and CEO of Patvention Recycling Enterprise. Picture: Supplied

Patrice Murugi may have a small-scale business, but her ideas have big potential.

Growing up, she learned how to bee farm and now she has managed to turn the hobby into a profitable business growing the bee farming industry in Kenya.

Murugi comes from a small village in Nanyuki, a town in central Kenya bordered by Mount Kenya and bursting with wildlife.

As a teenager, Murugi moved in with her dad in Nyeri County.

While there, she watched her dad build beehives from waste material and then farm bees, to provide for the family.

This inspired her to pursue a diploma in business management at Kenyatta University.

She realized that bee farming could be a solution to some of the problems in her community.

“We have a big issue of waste management in Nyeri County, so I thought of how I could turn that into a social enterprise. That’s how I started my business,” she tells FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

In 2017, with the help of her family and the youth in her community, she would collect saw dust and rice husks and fabricate bee hives out of them.

This was the beginning of what would be her first business venture, Patvention Recycling Enterprise.

She currently employs eight people.

Murugi also houses beehives on a small plot in her backyard and teaches community members how to become bee hive farmers.

“My other plan is to encourage bee farming at a large scale because here it is a very profitable venture that many youth can do,” she says.

Murugi says she plans to also turn the bee venom market into a profitable business to help cure diseases. She has since expanded her business to also manufacturing briquettes out of waste. She plans to buy a carbonizing machine big enough to process waste in dumping sites, and also plans to branch out into Nairobi.


Sector: Sustainable energy
Stella Sigana, 36, Kenya
Founder and Executive Director: Alternative Waste Technologies

Stella Sigana, Founder and Executive Director of Alternative Waste Technologies. Picture: Supplied

A social entrepreneur, Stella Sigana is passionate about environmental preservation and building social enterprises. One of them is Alternative Waste Technologies, which produces charcoal briquettes from agricultural waste.

Founded in 2016, her goal was to create an alternative cooking fuel to mitigate against deforestation and climate change and contribute to reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sigana was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, in a family of five daughters, she the eldest.

Growing up, Sigana went to a high school that boarded Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Nairobi.

The experience exposed her to the harsh conditions of people living in poverty.

She obtained a Masters in Science (Entrepreneurship) at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in 2010. She worked with a number of businesses and NGOs for three years, which saw her doing work in Kibera.

While there, Sigana enrolled into an accelerator program and developed a concept for briquetting.

She later registered it as a business in 2016 calling it Alternative Waste Technologies.

The same year, she pitched her business to the Tony Elumelu Foundation and was selected as part of the 1,000 Africans on the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, receiving $5,000.

Today, Alternative Waste Technologies sources organic waste from farmlands and markets.

They then carbonize and compact the waste to make charcoal blocks. The waste is sourced from saw dust, rice husks, coffee husks, bagasse and charcoal dust.

Sigana says these bio fuels have less smoke emissions and better burning efficiency.

Some of her clients include schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, camps and lodges based in the Maasai Mara reserve and conservancy.

They also sell to informal settlements in Kibera at a lower cost – one 50kg bag of the briquettes costs $20.

“With 170 tonnes of briquettes sold in the community, we have saved about 1,974 trees from being cut,” she says.

Sigana won the NextGen in Franchising Global Competition Award for the social sector in 2018.

For Sigana, being a new wealth creator means using unconventional methods of innovation to generate income, create employment and have an impact in conserving the environment in untapped areas.


Sector: Recycling waste
Brenda Katwesigye, 28, Uganda
Founder and CEO: Wazi Recycling Industries


Brenda Katwesigye, Founder and CEO of Wazi Recycling Industries. Picture: Supplied

Brenda Katwesigye first ventured into entrepreneurship at the age of 21.

While pursuing her BSc in Telecommunication Engineering at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, she started her first business.

Cellphones and laptops were not allowed during graduation ceremonies at the time, so Katwesigye saw the opportunity to provide a service. She created lockers and started a business keeping people’s tech devices for a fee. She and her staff were eventually banned from selling on the university grounds.

In 2014, she was hired by Deloitte East Africa and worked there for three years.

But while she was working full-time, the entrepreneur in her began to resurface.

Katwesigye would work long hours and sometimes at night and that affected her eye sight. She visited an eye center and was told she needed glasses.

But, unfortunately, her insurance could only cover half the price of the spectacles.

“And 80% of that was just the frame and I was like ‘why are you charging me so much money’?”

This birthed Katwesigye’s idea to come up with cost-effective glasses, particularly for those who did not have access to insurance.

Then came Wazi Recyling Industries, a company she founded in 2016.

Wazi means ‘clear’ in Kiswahili.

They would collect, shred and mould the plastic from water bottles and plastic bags to produce eco-friendly glasses that cost $20.

She says they recycle over three tonnes of plastic waste every week contributing to sustainable development in Uganda.

“We’ve reached more than 10,000 people in Uganda with eyewear alone and exported a little bit in Rwanda,” she says.

They have also raised $250,000 worth of investments, which they used to buy machinery with. In 2018, Katwesigye expanded the business to create affordable building material such as interlocking blocks, paving tiles and foundation blocks using recycled material.

They employ seven people full-time, and 24 part-time, made up of women and youth.

Katwesigye is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and served on the regional advisory board of the Young African Leaders initiative.

She says being a new wealth creator is about creating revenue or value from unconventional places whilst making an impact.

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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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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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