Go-getting young entrepreneurs are putting Africa on the map. They are under 30 with fresh, innovative business mindsets. Many may not recognize their names; nevertheless, they are making progress in the African business world. They’re shrewd, alert, focused and prepared to dive into new unexploited opportunities.
Let’s see who they are and how they’re making an impact in the African industry…
- Mubarak Muyika
Mubarak is a successful 22-year-old Kenyan internet entrepreneur. However, his childhood was mixed with sadness. At 10 years old, he became an orphan after his mother died. She raised him after the death of his father when he was two years old. Following her death, he went to live with his auntie and her husband.
Mubarak founded Hypecentury Technologies, a web hosting company when he was just 16 and still at school. He had the idea after seeing the lack of skills of his auntie’s webmaster. He charged lots of money to create a manage the website for her publishing company, Acrodile Publishers. But, delivered a bad service.
Mubarak believed he could do better. So, he used online resources to teach himself how to build a website and created an eCommerce site for Acrodile Publishers.
He later identified a gap in the market for web creation, and web hosting. He founded Hypercentury Technologies to meet that need. Two years later, he sold his company to Wemps Telecoms, Kenya for six-figures.
- Affiong Williams
In 2012 Affiong went to Nigeria to set up a snack and beverage company after working in South Africa. She saw an unfilled gap in the fruit niche. Affiong borrowed money from family and friends, plus used her own funds to raise $100,000 to set up ReelFruit, a fruit processing company.
The company produces a range of dried fruit snacks, nuts and packaging. ReelFruit contains five products including pineapple, mango, banana, cashew and coconut.
Affiong saw a once in a lifetime opportunity and used her initiatives to set up the company. She said, “Well, I was actually attracted to the sector for a number of reasons. Firstly I believe there is untapped opportunity in processing and value addition of raw materials and I also believe it’s a very budding sector, there is a lot of opportunity as well as the job creation which I think is quite important to me as an entrepreneur to be able to you know play in an industry that would create a lot of jobs.” Source
Reelfruit supplies to more than 80 stores in Nigeria. Affiong was featured in Forbes Africa as one of the under 30 African entrepreneurs.
Her advice to other young entrepreneurs is this, “First, being resolute about your dreams and ambitions; this will carry you during the hard times when things don’t go your way. Second, understanding the Nigerian terrain; which is not very straightforward and requires a lot of flexibility. Lastly, network. Reach out to other entrepreneurs to learn their lessons, to avoid potentially costly mistakes.” Source
- Alain Nteff
Cameroon has a high death rate of pregnant babies and newborn babies, which exceeds the normally acceptable rate. The chances of a woman dying while giving birth are 100 times greater in Africa.
At 20, Alain was an engineering student. He travelled to Cameroon and visited a hospital in a rural area. He saw many mothers and newborn babies die. This was caused by a lack of proper antenatal care. Alain’s compassion for pregnant mothers and babies kicked in. He felt compelled to do something to help.
He developed a mobile app, Gifted Mon, to tackle the problem. This platform uses low technology and makes it possible for mums and pregnant mothers to access medical advice. It prompts alert when it is time for vaccinations, checkups and provides answers to medical questions.
In 20 months, Alain’s invention has made a difference to over 3000 women across Cameroon.
One of his greatest achievements was meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace in the UK.
His long-term goal is to help five million pregnant mothers and new mums globally by 2018.
- Takunda Chingonzo
Takunda is an electronic entrepreneur from Zimbabwe. At 19 and with a Batchelor’s Degree in quantity surveying, he created a model based on an African business principle. He used this principle to bring his idea to life by encouraging entrepreneurs to transfer value to the end user using minimum resources. He called it frugal innovation, meaning doing more with less.
One of Takunda’s accomplishments was meeting and interviewing the US president Barack Obama. During the interview, he voiced his disapproval at the sanctions against some politicians in Zimbabwe.
He aims to develop and launch 100 sustainable companies in Africa by 2020. The plan is to launch 20 startups every year.
- Verone Mankou
Verone is the son of a school mistress and an oil engineer. He’s known as the Steve Job of Africa. He created Elika, the first affordable African-made smartphone. Verone identified a need for affordable smart mobile phones and iPads in his country, the Republic of Congo.
Verone applied to the banks for funding but was turned down because of his young age. Therefore, he sponsored his own project to get started. Nevertheless, the Congolese government later granted him $700,000. He established VMK and created an African version of the iPad, Way-C tablet for people who could not afford Apple’s iPad. His vision was to serve a high proportion of people with a small budget.
VMK is working on building a plant in Congo to create a tablet devoted to health, education and agriculture for only £70.
In 2015, Forbes magazine listed Verone as one of the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30.
- Catherine Mahugu
As a young girl, Catherine was obsessed with fixing gadgets, fascinated by science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These interests led her to start up Soko (which means market in Swahili) an e-commerce platform, selling handmade accessories from Kenya.
She attributes her success to using mobile technology to team up international buyers directly with designers and artisans in Kenya. Soko sells products to major stores such as Nordstrom and Anthropologie.
The company has offices in Kenya and America and employs more than 20 staff. However, they plan to launch out in Mexico and India.
In addition, Catherine is using her influence for a good cause. She works with the UN to stop violence against women.
- Sangu Delle
Sangu, from Ghana, has always had an entrepreneurial’s spirit. He was accepted for a scholarship in America as a young boy. To fund his fare he sold homework to classmates at his school to pay for his travel.
He is a clean water activist and the co-founder of Golden Palm Investments. This holding company invests in startups through Africa. Their niches are health care, real estate, technology and agriculture.
With his team, Delle built a chain of hospitals in Ghana. One of their ventures is to invest in mPharma. This is an advanced system, which monitors drugs, links hospitals and pharmacies to patients using mobile phones.
Sangu sees this as a massive breakthrough for a country that is rife with diseases. He said, “Africa has 24% of the global disease burden, but only 3% of health workers. It’s plain to see that there is a lack of accessible healthcare in the region and we are working on a solution to combating this issue.”
Africa is birthing a new breed of serious-minded entrepreneurs. They are out to change their country, proving that success is possible despite economic issues. With a clear vision and determination, you can make your dream work.