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The New Wealth Creators is the first of its kind list by FORBES WOMAN AFRICA. Herein is a collection of female entrepreneurs on the African continent running businesses and social enterprises that are new, offbeat and radical.

These 20 women have been selected because they have created significant impact in their respective sectors by transforming a market or company, or innovating a product or service, and are pioneering their organization(s) in generating new untapped streams of income.

VIEW THE FULL LIST|Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent

These women come from across the continent, from the villages and the suburbs, and are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. They have all adopted sustainable development initiatives in one way or another to help solve Africa’s problems.

They may be wealth creators but their businesses, ironically, did not stem from a need to make money,  but rather from the need to solve Africa’s persisting socio-economic challenges.

 Economically empowering women has shown to boost productivity. It increases economic diversification and income equality, in addition to other positive developmental outcomes.

Simply put, when more women work, economies are likely to grow.

FORBES WOMAN AFRICA put in months of rigorous research, searching near and far for these inspirational entrepreneurs.

We took into account their business model, new ideas, potential, struggles, social impact, growth, influence, resilience and most importantly, their innovation.

Speaking to FORBES WOMAN AFRICA last year at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said: “Innovation [is] becoming the cornerstone for our economy going forward.”

As Africa’s population is reported to increase by 53% by 2100, according to the United Nations, new solutions must be created in order for us to keep up.

READ MORE | Naomi Campbell: Africa Is One Of The Leading Continents In The World

One question remains: can Africa translate its significant population growth into economic development, and invest this wealth to improve the quality of life?

Entrepreneurship could very well be the answer, or at least, one of the answers.

Last year, the Founder and Chair of the Alibaba Group Jack Ma paid Africa a visit to discuss tangible investment and technology development.

He encouraged African entrepreneurs to take giant leaps in solving the challenges facing the continent and to take advantage of the digital economy.

From left to right: Rachel Sibande, Arlene Mulder, Miishe Addy, Sarah Collins, Dineo Lioma, Jessica Anuna. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla
Assistant Photographer: Gypseenia Lion

He said that opportunities lie where people complain.

And these women, through their businesses, have identified just that.

Vijay Tirathrai, director of the Techstars Dubai Accelerator, shared the same sentiments with FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

“The new wealth creators, for me, are entrepreneurs who are very conscious about finding solutions in the market place, but from a lens of having social impact or having impacted the environment,” he says.

Tirathrai believes that while servicing consumers, new wealth creators are also “making a safer and a greener planet in the process, eliminating diseases, improving health conditions and advocating for equality for women”.

Women on the African continent have been making headway as drivers of change, and in many ways, they embody new wealth.

They are the true wealth.

As FORBES WOMAN AFRICA, we seek to celebrate such women.

Through this list, money is no longer the central indicator of new wealth creation.

It is about job creation, contributing to healthy societies, recycling waste, giving agency to those who are financially excluded and developing solutions for some of the socio-economic problems we grapple with.

IN PICTURES | Leading Women Summit 2019

These women may all come from different places but they are bound together by one common thread, and that is the thread of new wealth creation.

This compilation is innovative, exciting, inspiring and shows what businesses of the future may look like.

Meet the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA New Wealth Creators of 2019.

Billionaires

His Bosses Rejected His Idea. Then Hans Langer Became A Billionaire From His Plan For Giant 3D Printers

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Tucked away in the forests of Bavaria, in a building that once housed the printing presses for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, is one of the largest 3-D printer factories in the world. On a late-winter morning, it is quiet inside the cavernous space as workers install lasers and wiring in machines that are taller than a person and wider than a desk. When finished, these printers can make everything from parts for rockets to hip implants. The 100,000-square-foot factory is not quite half full, but when it reaches capacity, it will be able to ship 1,000 printers a year.

The man responsible for all this is 67-year-old Hans Langer, one of the original entrepreneurs in the 3-D printing world, who started the company that produces these machines, EOS GmbH, 30 years ago. “I was able to see that we could open up a totally new world of manufacturing,” says Langer from his company’s airy and modern headquarters near Munich. 

EOS founder Hans Langer.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

The 3-D printing revolution heralded a few years ago never arrived. There are not printers in every home or on every desk. One of the largest of the public 3-D printer makers, $1.3 billion (market cap) 3D Systems, has lost more than 85% of its value since January 2014, when its stock hit a high of $97. It recently traded around $11.  

But while there is limited demand among consumers for 3-D printers, the industrial version of the technology is booming. Massive companies like Boeing and Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer, are increasingly using 3-D printers to redesign products and parts to make them lighter and more efficient. Sales of industrial 3-D printers could reach $11.7 billion this year, more than double their $5.2 billion in sales in 2015, according to industry research firm Wohlers Associates, which forecasts that they’ll more than double again, to $27.3 billion, by 2023.

The parts these printers churn out often look like something created by nature, with lattice-like structures and hollow spaces, yet can be stronger and more functional than traditional manufactured pieces that appear more solid. That allows manufacturers to reduce the weight of airplanes, increasing their fuel efficiency and lowering their carbon footprint, and make joint implants that are lighter and that allow bones to grow into the empty spaces in the metal.

Langer has positioned EOS perfectly to capture this demand. He was an early believer that 3-D printing could be used for more than just prototyping, one of its earliest uses in industry, and today EOS’s machines, which have a base price as high as $1.6 million, fill factory floors at Boeing, BMW and Siemens. It adds up. EOS Group (which includes 3-D printing company EOS GmbH and related businesses) has sales of $400 million, operating profit margins above 10% at a time when many 3-D printing companies are in the red, and, most years, double-digit revenue growth. In addition to the 3-D printing business, Langer has created an ecosystem of companies in related industries, such as coatings and scanning systems for lasers, that positions his group for future growth.

Adrian Keppler, CEO of EOS GmbHJAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Industrial manufacturing isn’t as glamorous as creating consumer products, but Langer is the first person to have earned a billion-dollar fortune in 3-D printing. He is worth an estimated $2.6 billion. He and his family own all of EOS Group. “He’s built this really remarkable enterprise,” says John Dulchinos, vice president of 3-D printing and digital manufacturing at Jabil, the giant contract manufacturer, which has purchased numerous EOS machines.

“He’s very entrepreneurial, and he’s got one of the few companies in this market that actually makes money. That’s really impressive given how much money this industry has burned chasing the dream of 3-D printing.”

But EOS is both having a breakout moment and facing increased competition from both well-established giants, such as GE and HP, and venture-backed disruptors like unicorn Desktop Metal. Langer, a white-haired man with a penchant for ascots, isn’t rattled, arguing that his group of companies could increase its total revenues tenfold in the next ten years.

While he’d rather not talk about money or be outed as a billionaire, he’s clearly proud of what he’s built. “Most people have not understood the potential,” he says. “It’s not about the printers. It’s about the digital impact that starts with the digital-design software.”

Langer grew up in Bavaria, where his father owned a small business and taught glider pilots on the side. His dad taught him to fly, too, and at 14 Langer completed his first solo trip. He loved the silence of flight (“A special experience,” he says. “It’s totally silent and you fly over the glaciers.”) and was intrigued by the planes’ aerodynamics.

He received a Ph.D. from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, then continued his research at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, one of Germany’s top research institutions, specializing in lasers, which were emerging as a new tool. Langer thought he would become an academic, but a professor convinced him he could make a bigger difference in industry. In 1981, he joined laser entrepreneur Carl Baasel at the company he’d started, Carl Baasel Lasertechnik, as employee number 11.

While Langer saw himself as a physicist, he discovered he had a knack for sales by focusing on solving his customers’ problems. “Always start with why,” he says. “If you have a customer, why? Why do you talk to me?” On his first sales call to a professor at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center, he sold not only the $5,000 laser bench the professor asked about but an entire laser system. Within three months, he’d met his annual target.

As Langer’s success at Baasel grew, executives at General Scanning, an American firm that dominated the market for scanning systems for lasers, took notice. In 1985, Langer joined General Scanning to run its European operations.

At the time, 3-D printing was in its infancy. 3D Systems’ Chuck Hull had invented stereolithography, a method of 3-D printing that used light-activated resins to build rapid prototypes layer by layer, and filed his first patent on the technology in 1984. Langer realized that parts built with this method could be designed in ways that would have been impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques. He pored over 3-D printing patents, going as far back as the 1950s, and met with other General Scanning customers exploring the technology.

Then he proposed that General Scanning start its own 3-D printing division, which he called EOS, for Electro Optical Systems. The board of directors said no. It would be too risky, they argued, because of the potential for patent litigation. After all, Hull had filed a patent on his technology and would likely try to enforce it.

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IN PICTURES | Leading Women Summit 2019

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The FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit which was hosted the by KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government took place on International Women’s Day (Friday, 08 March) at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Full list of winners | Leading Women Summit award winners

READ MORE about the New Wealth Creators | Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent

The 2019 Leading Women Summit was a full-day event, with an audience of over 500 women.

The goal was to bring together leading, influential women to share their ideas that are idea-focused, and on a wide range of subjects, to foster learning, inspiration and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter. The 2019 theme for the event was the “New Wealth Creators”.

The New Wealth Creators list, which is the first of its kind, was unveiled at the Summit. It is collection of female entrepreneurs on the African continent running businesses and social enterprises that are new, offbeat and radical.

READ MORE | Naomi Campbell: Africa Is One Of The Leading Continents In The World

READ MORE | Naomi Campbell Announced As Headline Speaker For The 2019 Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Summit

The Summit celebrated a host of female trailblazers, game-changers and pioneers in African business and society.

Supermodel, philanthropist and cultural innovator, Naomi Campbell was the headline speaker among other global influencers in business, sport, science, entertainment and leadership.

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Cover Story

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

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The New Wealth Creators is the first of its kind list by FORBES WOMAN AFRICA. Herein is a collection of female entrepreneurs on the African continent running businesses and social enterprises that are new, offbeat and radical.

These 20 women have been selected because they have created significant impact in their respective sectors by transforming a market or company, or innovating a product or service, and are pioneering their organization(s) in generating new untapped streams of income.

These women come from across the continent, from the villages and the suburbs, and are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. They have all adopted sustainable development initiatives in one way or another to help solve Africa’s problems.

They may be wealth creators but their businesses, ironically, did not stem from a need to make money,  but rather from the need to solve Africa’s persisting socio-economic challenges.

 Economically empowering women has shown to boost productivity. It increases economic diversification and income equality, in addition to other positive developmental outcomes.

Simply put, when more women work, economies are likely to grow.

FORBES WOMAN AFRICA put in months of rigorous research, searching near and far for these inspirational entrepreneurs.

We took into account their business model, new ideas, potential, struggles, social impact, growth, influence, resilience and most importantly, their innovation.

Speaking to FORBES WOMAN AFRICA last year at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said: “Innovation [is] becoming the cornerstone for our economy going forward.”

As Africa’s population is reported to increase by 53% by 2100, according to the United Nations, new solutions must be created in order for us to keep up.

One question remains: can Africa translate its significant population growth into economic development, and invest this wealth to improve the quality of life?

Entrepreneurship could very well be the answer, or at least, one of the answers.

Last year, the Founder and Chair of the Alibaba Group Jack Ma paid Africa a visit to discuss tangible investment and technology development.

He encouraged African entrepreneurs to take giant leaps in solving the challenges facing the continent and to take advantage of the digital economy.

From left to right: Rachel Sibande, Arlene Mulder, Miishe Addy, Sarah Collins, Dineo Lioma, Jessica Anuna. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla
Assistant Photographer: Gypseenia Lion

He said that opportunities lie where people complain.

And these women, through their businesses, have identified just that.

Vijay Tirathrai, director of the Techstars Dubai Accelerator, shared the same sentiments with FORBES WOMAN AFRICA.

“The new wealth creators, for me, are entrepreneurs who are very conscious about finding solutions in the market place, but from a lens of having social impact or having impacted the environment,” he says.

Tirathrai believes that while servicing consumers, new wealth creators are also “making a safer and a greener planet in the process, eliminating diseases, improving health conditions and advocating for equality for women”.

Women on the African continent have been making headway as drivers of change, and in many ways, they embody new wealth.

They are the true wealth.

As FORBES WOMAN AFRICA, we seek to celebrate such women.

Through this list, money is no longer the central indicator of new wealth creation.

It is about job creation, contributing to healthy societies, recycling waste, giving agency to those who are financially excluded and developing solutions for some of the socio-economic problems we grapple with.

These women may all come from different places but they are bound together by one common thread, and that is the thread of new wealth creation.

This compilation is innovative, exciting, inspiring and shows what businesses of the future may look like.

Meet the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA New Wealth Creators of 2019.

The list on the pages that follow is in no particular order.

-Curated by: Unathi Shologu

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