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30 Of Africa’s Most Promising Young African Entrepreneurs: Forbes

30 Of Africa’s Most Promising Young African Entrepreneurs: Forbes

Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs may be today’s upstarts, but they’re tomorrow’s legends, and they’re building empires as they disrupt Africa and the world, Forbes reports.

Forbes Contributor Mfonobong Nsehe asked readers to nominate Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs under age 30, and the list that follows is based on 800 responses.

“These are the ones who are making the most dramatic impact in Africa today in manufacturing, technology, real estate, media and entertainment, financial services, agriculture, fashion and the service industry,” Nsehe writes for Forbs. “They are impatient to explore new possibilities… There has never been a more inspired generation of young Africans. These builders, innovators and risk takers are fervent in their resolve to transform the continent. They are solving critical socio-economic problems, exporting African culture to the world, creating job opportunities for Africans, re-telling Africa’s stories, and writing the future.”

Nsehe included seven names on this year’s list that were featured on the 2013 list, along with 23 new names he said we need to watch. There weren’t enough under-30-year-old entrepreneurs meeting the criteria, so he said he included a few 30-year-olds.

“Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Chris Kirubi and Patrice Motsepe may call the shots today, but these ones will take center stage tomorrow,” Nsehe said.

Here is Forbes’ 2014 list of 30 promising young African entrepreneurs:

Arthur Zang, Cameroon, Founder: Cardiopad

Zang, 26, is an engineer who invented Cardiopad, a touch screen medical tablet that allows heart examinations such as the electrocardiogram (ECG) to be performed at remote, rural locations. Results are transferred wirelessly to specialists for interpretation. The device spares African patients in remote areas the trouble of having to travel to cities for medical exams. Zang founded Himore Medical Equipments, the company that owns the rights to the Cardiopad.


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Kimiti Wanjaria, Kenya, Co-founder: Serene Valley Properties

Kimiti Wanjaria, 30, co-founded Serene Valley Properties, a real estate development company in Nairobi that builds and sells residential properties to Kenya’s growing middle class. He’s behind the development of Sigona Valley project, a $4-million gated residential community outside Nairobi.

Ashley Uys, South Africa, Founder: Medical Diagnostech

Ashley Uys, 30, founded Medical Diagnostech which develops and markets affordable and
reliable medical test kits for malaria, pregnancy, syphilis, malaria, HIV/AIDS for South
Africa’s rural poor. Uys received South African Breweries’ $100,000 Annual Social
Innovation Awards.

Lorna Rutto, Kenya, Founder: Ecopost Kenya

Lorna Rutto, 28, founded Ecopost in 2010, a Kenyan company that collects plastic waste such as polypropylene and polyethylene and converts them into durable, environmentally friendly plastic lumber. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to timber which is used to manufacture fencing posts.

Joel Mwale, Kenya, Founder: Skydrop Enterprises

Mwale, now 21, founded SkyDrop Enterprises, a rainwater filtration and bottling company producing low-cost purified drinking water, milk and other dairy products in Kenya. In 2012, Mwale sold a 60-percent share in Skydrop to an Israeli firm for $500,000. In 2013, Mwale founded Gigavia, an educational social networking website.

Christian Ngan, Cameroon, Founder: Madlyn Cazalis

After working in financial services in France as an analyst at French investment bank
Quilvest Group and an associate at Findercord in Paris, Christian Ngan returned home to
Cameroon to start a business in 2012. With $3,000 in savings, he founded Madlyn
Cazalis, an African hand-made biocosmetic company that produces body oils, natural lotions, creams, scrubs, masks and soaps.

Madlyn Cazalis products are sold and distributed to more than 30 drug stores, beauty institutes and retail outlets in Cameroon and neighboring countries. The company does not reveal revenues but says it is profitable.

Ngan, 30, also founded GoldskyPartners Advisory, a financial advisory firm in
Cameroon.

Kunmi Otitoju, Nigeria, Founder: Minku Design

Kunmi, 30, is a Nigerian fashion entrepreneur and founder of Minku Design, a company
that makes leather bags for men and women by blending Aso-oke fabric — hand-loomed
cloth woven by Nigeria’s Yoruba people — into contemporary leather bag designs. Minku also makes Yoruba-themed leather purses and jewelry. All Minku Design products are hand-made at a workshop in Barcelona, Spain, then sold at high-end stores in Nigeria and on the company’s website.

Khaled Shady, Egypt, Founder: Mubser

At 22, Shady is founder of a new tool to help the blind. Mubser, which will be officially launched in March, is a wearable belt with Bluetooth-connected headset that leverages RGB imaging and infrared depth data captured by a 3D-depth camera that allows blind and visually impaired people to navigate around in a safe and easy way. The device recognizes object and obstacles such as staircases and chairs.

Ronak Shah, Kenya, Founder: Kronex Chemicals Ltd.

Shah, 26, is the Asian-Kenyan founder of Kronex Chemicals Ltd., a fast-growing
manufacturer of low-cost household cleaning products. Shah founded Kronex in January 2013. The company has two products: a dishwashing liquid and a multi-purpose detergent. Both are gaining market share among Kenya’s lower middle-class, Forbes reports.

Senai Wolderufael, Ethiopia, Founder: Feed Green Ethiopia Exports Co.

The 27 year-old Ethiopian entrepreneur founded Feed Green Ethiopia Exports Co.,
an Addis Ababa-based firm that produces and exports popular Ethiopian spice blends such as shiro, mitmita, korarima and berbere. Wolderufael founded the company in 2012 to serve the needs of the Ethiopian diaspora in the U.S. and Europe, but as demand for
Ethiopian spices increased significantly, Feed Green began exporting to new markets in
Africa. The company employs only women.

Eric Kinoti, Kenya, Founder: Shades System East Africa

A 29 year-old Kenyan founded Shades System East Africa, a $1 million company that manufactures military and relief tents, branded gazebos, restaurant canopies, car parking shades, marquees, luxury tents, wedding party tents canvas seats and bouncing castles. Its largest clients are non-governmental and humanitarian organizations. Based in Nairobi, Shades exports to Somalia, Congo and Rwanda. The company has 18 full-time employees and says it is profitable.

Nick Kaoma, South Africa, Founder: Head Honcho Clothing

Nick Kaoma, 28, is building an urban legend. The Cape Town native founded Head Honcho clothing and is its creative director. It’s a prominent South African lifestyle brand that designs, manufactures and markets street wear clothing hugely popular among South Africa’s young urban dwellers. The company’s product line includes T-shirts and caps, cardigans, varsity jackets, hoodies, tank tops and dresses.

Issam Chleuh, Mali, Founder: Africa Impact Group

Malian national Issam Chleuh, 27, is a former Ernst & Young senior associate who
founded the Africa Impact Group, an international organization directing
investment to socially and environmentally beneficial ventures — an asset class known as impact investing. The company’s services include data and research, news, advisory services, and start-up incubation. Africa Impact Group’s clients include impact investors, private equity firms, family offices, leading African corporations, governments and nonprofits.

Patrick Ngowi, Tanzania, Founder: Helvetic Group

Patrick Ngowi, 29 founded Helvetic Group, a company that pioneered the supply,
installation and maintenance of solar systems in Tanzania’s Northern Circuit. Helvetic Solar Contractors continues to grow, earning $5-million-plus in 2013. KPMG
East Africa recently valued the company at $15 million. Helvetic is expanding into
South Africa and Ngowi is gearing up to take the company to Dar es Salaam.

Heshan de Silva, Kenya, Founder: DSGVenCap

After dropping out of school in the U.S., Heshan de Silva, 25, worked for
a tea exporting company his parents owned before starting VenCap, a business
selling travel insurance bundled into long-distance bus tickets. The company became
profitable quickly, grossing more than $1 million in revenues its first year and
setting the pace for travel insurance for bus commuters in Kenya. He is now a venture
capitalist and founded DSGVenCap, a company that makes seed investments in the tech,
media, agribusiness and consumer industries in Kenya.

Julie Alexander Fourie, South Africa, Founder: iFix

Julie Alexander Fourie, 26, employs 40 people and services more than 4,000 clients a month as founder of iFix, which repairs and services Apple products and Samsung Smartphones. iFix has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Fourie started the company in 2006 from his dorm room at the University of Stellenbosch,
helping colleagues and friends repair broken and faulty iPods and computers. Friends referred other Apple product owners in search of repairs and Fourie’s business took off.

Sangu Delle, Ghana, Founder: Golden Palm Investments

Delle, 27, co-founded Golden Palm Investments, a holding company that invests in early
stage venture and growth financing across Africa, especially real estate, healthcare, agribusiness and technology. GPI has backed startups such as Solo Mobile in
Nigeria, mPharma in Ghana and Zamsolar in Zambia. He also founded cleanacwa, a
non-profit working to provide access to clean water in Ghana’s underdeveloped regions. Sangu, who worked at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Valiant Capital Partners, is
currently an MBA candidate at Harvard.

Uche Pedro, Nigeria, Founder: BellaNaija

The Nigerian media entrepreneur, 29, founded BellaNaija, a thriving new
media company that develops online media content for African (primarily Nigerian) audiences. BellaNaija.com is a lifestyle, entertainment and fashion website, and gets
an average 10-million page views per month, Forbes reports.

Tebogo Ditshego, South Africa, Founder: Ditshego Media

Th South African public relations maverick, 29, founded Ditshego Media, a
leading PR firm specializing in media relations, investor relations, reputation management
and corporate communications. Ditshego is also chairman of the South African Reading
Foundation.

Bankole Cardoso, Nigeria, CEO, EasyTaxi Nigeria

Cardoso, 25, founded Nigerian operations of EasyTaxi, a mobile taxi app founded in Brazil in 2012 by German technology startup incubator, Rocket Internet GmBH. EasyTaxi connects cab drivers and would-be passengers. Through the app, passengers can confirm pickup points and order a cab at the click of a button. EasyTaxi sends passengers confirmation of the name and phone number of the driver and gives the option of tracking drivers and their vehicles in real-time. Before setting up EasyTaxi in Nigeria, Cardoso worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Carlyle Group in New York.

Isaac Oboth, Uganda, Founder: Media256

Isaac Oboth, 24, founded Media 256 LTD, an East African film and TV production company. Founded in 2011, Media 256 has clients that include
Coca Cola, UNDP, USAID, the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange, Marie Stopes International, the African Leadership Network, and the African Leadership Academy. The company says it is profitable and employs seven full-time videographers and editors. Oboth is an Anzisha Prize fellow. The pan-African award celebrates innovative young African entrepreneurs.

Barclay Paul, Kenya, Founder/CEO: Impact Africa Industries

Three years ago, this 22 year-old Kenyan founded Impact Africa Industries, a company that produces low-cost sanitary pads for poor women in informal settlements in Kenya.
Now he sells to Uganda and South Sudan. The company has 23 employees including 15 women. Paul was an Anzisha Prize fellow in 2013.

Seth Akumani, Ghana, Co-founder and CEO: ClaimSync

Akumani, 30, co-founded ClaimSync, an end-to-end claims processing software that lets healthcare facilities all over the world automate patients’ medical records and process records electronically. Claimsync’s solution allows healthcare providers to easily prepare medical claims and send them electronically to insurance companies. In 2013, ClaimSync was the only African company participating in HealthXL, a high-profile accelerator program in Dublin backed by IBM, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline.

GenKey, a Netherlands-based biometrics company, recently bought ClaimSync.

Jonathan Liebmann, South Africa, Real Estate Developer, CEO of Propertuity

A South African visionary, Liebmann, 29, is managing director of Propertuity, a real estate development company. He’s the brains behind the construction of the Maboneng Precinct, a thriving cultural district Johannesburg’s east side central business district. Once
a neglected and deteriorating neighborhood of abandoned industrial complexes, Maboneng was transformed through Liebmann’s vision into a vibrant urban mixed-use community of art galleries, artist studios, retail spaces, offices and artist studios.

Tunde Kehinde, Nigeria, Co-founder: Jumia Nigeria

This Harvard MBA grad, 30, recently stepped down as co-founder of Jumia Nigeria, the
country’s largest online retailer. Kehinde founded Kasuwa, a Nigerian online retailer, in
2012. Within days of its founding, Kasuwa received seed funding from German online startup incubator and the company’s name became Jumia. Kehinde resigned in January to start a logistics company, Forbes reports.

Adii Pienaar, South Africa, Founder: Woothemes

Adii Pienaar, 28, founded Woothemes, a company that designs and develops customizable commercial themes and plugins for WordPress. Adii bootstrapped the business. Today it generates more than $3 million in annual revenues from the sale of its themes. Woothemes also develops and sells themes for other content management systems including Tumblr. Pienaar also runs PublicBeta, a service that allows successful entrepreneurs to transfer knowledge to new startups.

Zaheer Cassim, South Africa, Founder: One Way Up Productions

South African media entrepreneur Zaheer Cassim, 29, graduated from Columbia
journalism school and returned home to South Africa to found One Way Up Productions, a
TV production outfit with clients including Ogilvy South Africa, Hollard Insurance, the African Leadership Academy and Hackett.

Mike Muthiga, Kenya, Founder: Fatboy Animation

Muthiga, 26, founded Fatboy Animation, a Nairobi-based animation company that
produces 3D and 2D animation for film and commercial use. FatBoy has produced several animated commercials for Kenyan blue chips that went viral including brands such as
Safaricom, Telkom Orange, Barclays Bank and Jamii Telecommunications.

Danson Muchemi, Kenya, Founder: WebTribe

Muchemi, 29, founded WebTribe Kenya, a leading IT company with operations
in online payment systems, web applications and network security. Webtribe’s flagship
company, Jambopay, provides e-payment services for e-commerce players; e-ticketing services and electronic cash disbursement services. Jambopay received a Google Innovation Award in financial services for 2013.

Mazen Helmy, Egypt, Founder: The District

At 27, Mazen Helmy is founder of The District, one of the first co-working spaces in
Egypt and one of the few in the region. Occupying less than 1000-square meters, The District provides an inspiring workspace for entrepreneurs and freelancers, Forbes reports. Helmy founded the company in 2011.