Every day, Africa continues to give birth to new and vibrant businessmen that are set to transform the economy of this wonderful and rich continent. At the moment, 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 wealth as well as jobs, paying taxes, igniting the entrepreneurial spark among their peers, and most importantly, playing vital roles in the continent’s economic transformation. Ask these young Africans how they got to where they are and they’ll tell you it’s just hard work, and I fully agree with them. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know these young and very promising sunbeams in Africa. Who knows, just knowing them could go a long way to help you become one soon.
1. Sangu Delle – Ghanaian
CEO, Golden Palm investments
Sangu is a 28-year-old vibrant and very influential Ghanaian entrepreneur. He is the brains behind Golden Palm Investments, Ghana. A holding company that invests in early-stage venture and growth capital financing across Africa, particularly in real estate, healthcare, agribusiness and technology. The GPI has backed startups such as SOLO Mobile in Nigeria, mPharma in Ghana and Stawi Foods in Kenya. In healthcare, he and his team have built a successful chain of hospitals in Ghana, which they hope to expand into the region. He graduated from the Havard Business School and is currently running an MBA in the Havard Law School. He is a fast rising entrepreneur with great and enviable business initiatives and passion towards bringing about significant changes in the life of Africans.
2. Ally Edha Awadh – Tanzanian
CEO, Lake Oil Group
Lake group of companies, founded by Ally Edha Awadh was registered in the year 2005 and commenced its operations in March 2006 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, just as an Oil Marketing Company. Lake group owns Lake Oil Ltd, Lake gas ltd and Lake trans ltd, Gulf premix ltd. Lake group also entered into Cylinder manufacturing. It is now one of the 5 largest distributors of petroleum products in Tanzania and exports to neighbouring countries including DR Congo, Zambia, Burundi and Rwanda. The company also has a 35 million-litre storage depot at Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam and another depot in Mbeya, a commercial city in the country’s southwest region. The transport/haulage arm of the company, Lake Trans, owns and operates close to 500 trucks and serves as a regional contractor for commodities giants like Trafigura and Augusta. Lake Oil Group’s revenues for 2013 were $600 million. This young and vibrant entrepreneur, Ally Edha Awadh is just 32 years old.
Isaac Oboth – Ugandan
CEO, Media 256
Media256 Ltd was started in 2010 by Isaac Oboth. The 26-year-old is the CEO of his own successful film production company, having risked it all by quitting university to start Media265. Orphaned at a young age, Isaac learned early on the importance of making a living by creating opportunities. After being disappointed by the work of a local videographer contracted by his classmates, he decided to “do it better” and go into film production. Completely self-taught, he started by watching online video tutorials for hours on end at a local internet café and ultimately founded Media256, a film and video production company. Now, Media256 has a client list that includes Coca-Cola, UNDP, USAID, the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange, Marie Stopes International, the African Leadership Network, and the African Leadership Academy.
4. Adii Pienaar – South African
Adii Pienaar, 29, was one of 3 co-founders of Woothemes, a company that designs and develops customizable commercial themes and plugins for WordPress. He and his partners saw the need for slick, professionally designed WordPress themes with advanced functionality. Adii and Mark had been developing blogs for their own clients, experimenting with different designs and features and learning how to make WordPress look awesome, and so they founded WooThemes with the dream of sharing this awesomeness with a broad audience.
Adii built the business with a bootstrap budget, and the company today generates over $3 million in annual revenues from the sale of its themes. Pienaar has since exited the company; he now runs PublicBeta, a service that allows successful entrepreneurs to transfer knowledge to new startups. In 2013, the company turned over more than $2 million that financial year, with Entrepreneur magazine estimating 20% of the web was powered by their software.
. Uche Pedro – Nigerian
Uche Pedro is a 32-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur, who is the founder of Bellanaija, an entertainment, fashion and lifestyle website. She is one of the most popular bloggers in Nigeria, and her site which she created in 2006, has grown to become one of the hottest destinations for celebrity news and fashion trends on the Internet, attracting more than 10 million page views per month.
6. Nick Kaoma – South African
CEO, Head Honcho Clothing
Nick Kaoma is the CEO of the leading street-wear clothing label, Head Honcho Clothing in South Africa. He decided that acquiring a certificate in Accounting was nowhere as exciting as actually plunging headfirst into building his clothing empire. Nick is one of the young African Entrepreneurs who started right from the scratch. This 29-year-old South African had nothing at the onset but serious determination and it paid off handsomely as Head Honcho is now heading the pack in street-wear fashion in South Africa, with collaborations with brands such as Miller and Play, and was the first local brand to be stocked in Shesha and Sport scene outlets all over the country and in other African countries like Nigeria and Zambia.
Stephen Sembuya – Ugandan
Pink Food Industries
Sembuya, 28, is the founder and CEO of Pink Food Industries, one of the fastest growing convenience foods manufacturers in Uganda. The PINK FOODS IND which Sembuya started in 2011 is one of the region’s pre-eminent branded food businesses. They produce some of the best known and loved sweets and snacks, with products ranging from biscuits, non-dairy creamers, chocolate, cornflakes and cocoa powder. Their portfolio of brands remain unrivalled and has continued meeting consumer needs and includes such favourites as Aby aby’s, Chela’s, etc.
“PFI holds leading or strong position in its core markets in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, and Congo. Moreover, our brands and products have global appeal. We have a rapidly growing international business unit serving consumers from within the region and beyond”, he said.
8. Edose Ohen, Nigerian
Founder, Alfa O & O Networks; Glazed the Doughnut Cafe
Edose Ohen, who earned his MBA from the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in 2013, is banking on it. He is the founder of Alfa O & O Networks, a fixed wireless internet service provider focused on connecting homes in Benin City, Edo State Nigeria to the Internet in order to reduce the digital divide. He also opened a gourmet doughnut café on August 29, with a soft opening on July 26 in Houston, US. Ohen came across the idea of a gourmet doughnut shop after seeing a news segment featuring a well-known Seattle café that helped in starting the gourmet doughnut trend. He continued his research by visiting America’s top gourmet doughnut locations before returning to Houston.
“I realized there’s a distinct trend for gourmet Doughnut shops,” Ohen said. “We don’t have that in Houston, and Houston’s the next global city. I wanted to be the first person to do it.” He said
This later investment is really making waves and being Houston’s first 24-hour gourmet doughnut café, it is set to pull in revenues of about $1.2 million dollars this year.
9. Clarisse Iribagiza – Rwandan
CEO, Hehe Ltd
Clarisse Iribagiza is the CEO of HeHe Limited, a leading mobile technologies Company founded in 2010, Rwanda. HeHe Ltd is now at the forefront of the mobile technological revolution, providing powerful new ways for businesses and organizations to reach their audience faster, conveniently and yet remain affordable. The 26-year-old lady studied Computer Engineering and Information Technology at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. In 2011, she together with other young ICT entrepreneurs launched The iHills, Rwanda’s tech start-up network, founded on the simple premise that Rwanda can be the birthplace of the next big thing in technology.
The iHills continues to provide mentoring, access to finance and markets for tech start-ups in Rwanda. Clarisse Iribagiza rose to fame in 2012 after hitting a jackpot of $50,000 grant from Inspire Africa, a sub-regional TV entrepreneurial contest. HeHe Ltd has grown to become an IT solution lab with a clientele that includes a number of government agencies.
10. Julie Alexander Fourie – South Africa
Fourie is the founder of iFix, which repairs and services all Apple products and Samsung Smartphones. iFix has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Presently, Julie Alexander Fourie’s company has an employee base of 40 people who provide services for about 4,000 clients on a monthly basis. Fourie is the founder of iFix, a company that is responsible for the repair and servicing of Apple products. 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. There are iFix branches in Durban, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Alexander is just 26 years old.
11. Ronak Shah – Kenyan
Kronex Capital Ltd
Shah, a 26-year-old Asian-Kenyan, is the founder of Kronex Chemicals Ltd, a fast-growing manufacturer of low-cost household cleaning products. Shah founded Kronex in January 2013 and the company has two products- a dish-washing liquid and a multi-purpose detergent, both of which are gaining market share among Kenya’s lower middle-class.
12. Eric Kinoti – Kenyan
CEO, Shades System East Africa
Eric Kinoti is a 30-year-old Kenyan entrepreneur who founded Shades System, East Africa which is located in the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. Shades System is a company that manufactures and exports military and relief tents, branded gazebos, restaurant canopies, car parking shades, marquees, luxury tents, wedding party tents canvas seats and bouncing castles across the region. The company has a full-time staff strength of 18 and has grown to yield an estimate of $1 million revenue per annum. Eric’s firm is majorly patronized by non-governmental and humanitarian organizations, and their major export targets are Somalia, Rwanda and Congo.
13. Christian Ngan – Cameroonian
CEO, Madlyn Czalis
Christian Ngan is a 32-year-old entrepreneur, businessman and financier in Cameroon who owns Goldsky Partners and Madlyn Cazalis Group, which has interests in the organic cosmetic industry. The company designs, manufactures, transports natural beauty products and operates in Central Africa with more than 50 distributors (chemist stores, beauty institutes and retail outlets). Mr. Ngan is the first Cameroonian businessman to ever being listed in a Forbes list. He was listed in The Choiseul 100 Africa: Economic Leaders for Tomorrow, listed by Young People in International Affairs (YPIA) in the “Top 35 Africans under 35 in 2014” and nominated Young Business Leader of The Year, West Africa by CNBC Africa.