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Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa

Jun 20 '16 | By La Afrique Media | Views: 285 | Comments: 0

“Young entrepreneurs and those they inspire are the lifeblood of Africa’s rise.” – Tony O. Elumelu, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation

Africa’s growing crop of young entrepreneurs will transform the continent and rewrite its future. And they are taking charge of that destiny now. Today, a growing number of Africans are building innovative technologies and businesses that are solving critical socio-economic problems, while creating job opportunities for Africans. It’s in entrepreneurial boom. The young folks are taking the lead – and are making fortunes for themselves in the process. As they should, because what good is entrepreneurship if it doesn’t create wealth?

While there are only a tiny handful of under-30 entrepreneurs who have succeeded in building million-dollar businesses, there is a rising number of young Africans who are building fast-growing companies in food manufacturing, engineering, technology, hospitality, and any other industry you can think of. They are creating jobs, paying taxes, igniting the entrepreneurial spark amongst their contemporaries, and ultimately, playing pivotal roles in the continent’s renaissance. You can’t ignore them anymore.

Following a request I made last month, I received close to 800 nominations for this year’s tally of Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs under age 30. Fourteen of the names on this year’s list were featured last year, plus there are 16 new rising stars to watch. Since there weren’t enough under-30 entrepreneurs who could meet the criteria, I included a few 30-somethings. The oldest person on the list is a mere 33.

Meet 30 of Africa’s brightest and most inspiring young entrepreneurs: today’s upstarts, tomorrow’s moguls.

Ali-shah Jivraj

Ali-shah Jivraj

Ali-shah Jivraj, Ugandan

Founder, Royal Electronics

Ali-shah Jivraj, a 27-year-old third generation Asian-Ugandan entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of Royal Electronics, a $15 million (annual revenues) Ugandan company that assembles and distributes electronic home appliances such as television sets, radios, speakers, and DVD players under the ‘Royal’ brand. He also owns a property development firm which is developing more than 50 residential apartments in Kampala.

Trushar Khetia, Kenyan

Founder, Tria Group

Khetia, 28, is the founder of Tria Group, a Kenyan outdoor transit advertising firm that uses public transit vehicles to market leading consumer goods in Kenya. Tria, which was founded in 2013, already has annual revenues exceeding $1.3 million.

Catherine MahuguKenyan

Co-Founder, Soko

Catherine Mahugu, 27, is a co- founder of Soko, an online destination platform for shoppers to discover handcrafted accessories from all over the world and purchase them directly from the designers and artisans. In 2013, the company raised $700,000 from a Dubai-based investment firm. At Soko, Mahugu leads innovation to foster new scalable and appropriate solutions. She is an International Telecom Union (ITU) Young Innovators fellow.

Teresa Mbagaya, Kenyan

Co-Founder, Econet Education

Mbagaya, 28, previously worked at Google GOOGL +0.32% on its Education team and partnered with the Emerging Markets Outreach team to provide free open source education materials to emerging markets. In 2013, she joined Econet Wireless as the youngest executive to found and lead Econet Education. Since joining Econet, Teresa has launched 3 education services in Zimbabwe with further aims for international expansion: Econet Zero targets 5 million Econet Broadband subscribers offering them free access to 50+ education websites including Coursera, EdX, Wikipedia, Codecademy and others; a global first for any Mobile Network Operator in scale. EcoSchool targets all tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe, an education platform that provides on-the-go, affordable, and reliable access to world-class educational content via the EcoSchool tablet. Recently, the business launched EcoSchool Academy to all 9 million subscribers, an interactive mobile learning environment which provides 50 short courses covering a range of topics. Econet Education has reduced the costs for Medical Students in Zimbabwe, providing tablets on which they can access their text books at significant savings.

Abiola Olaniran, Nigerian

Founder, Gamsole

Olaniran, 26, is the founder and CEO of Nigerian gaming company, Gamsole. Olaniran founded the company in 2012, and it has venture backing from 88mph, a Kenyan seed fund. The company’s games now have more than 9 million downloads both locally and internationally on the Windows Phone store.

Mark EssienNigerian

Founder, Hotels.ng

Essien, 31, is the founder of Hotels.ng, Nigeria’s largest hotel booking website. The online portal allows users from all over the world to book rooms from a selection of over 6000 hotels. The company has so far raised more than $250,000 in funding from Spark Fund among other investors.

Duran De VilliersSouth African

Co-Founder, SteadiDrone

Villiers, 30, is the founder of SteadiDrone, a South Africa-based company that develops and manufactures advanced small unmanned aerial multi-rotor systems for a wide range of applications and industries. The company had 2014 revenues of more than $1.2 million.

Mubarak MuyikaKenyan

Founder, Zagace Limited

Muyika, 20, is one of Kenya’s most promising young tech entrepreneurs. When he was 16, he founded Hypecentury Technologies, a web hosting company. He sold the company two years later to Wemps Telecoms in a 6-figure deal. Muyika’s new venture, Zagace, which has raised funding from local investors, is a cloud enterprise software that helps companies manage inventory such as accounting, payroll, stock management, marketing and many more all bundled in a simple and easy to use format called Zag apps.

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