Africa’s young entrepreneurs keep moving the needle. They are taking more risks than ever before and building phenomenal businesses that are tackling problems and creating lots of jobs in the process.
In its seventh year, this annual ranking of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa features some of the most exceptional young innovators and disruptors in African business today. These 30 were chosen from more than 650 nominations sent via email, researched by a small team and vetted by a panel of expert A-list judges to make sure they’re deserving of a spot.
Cut across real Estate, financial services, manufacturing, media, tech, green tech, agriculture and fashion, the 30 young African entrepreneurs featured on this list are impatient to change Africa. Together, they represent the entrepreneurial, innovative and intellectual best of their generation. There are a few names here that have featured in the past, but the majority of them are new to this list.
In no particular order, meet the 2018 class of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa – the remarkable young entrepreneurs transforming Africa as we speak.
Temitope Ogunsemo, Nigerian
Nigerian-born Temitope Ogunsemo, 33, is the founder of Krystal Digital, a fast-growing educational technology company that specializes in the creation, development and deployment of customized and service oriented software applications for educational institutions in Nigeria. Founded in 2010 in Lagos, Krystal Digital’s flagship service, MySkool Portal, a web-based application for School Information Management System designed for proper storage and documentation of school data, has been adopted by more than 50 Government-owned High schools in Nigeria, and has more than 65,000 active student users. Krystal Digital now has more than 150 employees and annual revenues of more than $3 million.
Nthabiseng Mosia, South African
Founder, Easy Solar
Nthabibiseng Mosia, 28, is the co-founder and CFO (as well as CMO) of Azimuth, known locally as Easy Solar. Easy Solar is a for-profit enterprise with a social mission to make clean energy affordable to off-grid communities in West Africa. The business distributes and finances affordable, high quality solar-powered devices on a rent-to-own basis enabled by Pay-As-You-Go technology. The business model is underpinned by a trusted brand built on superior customer service and a network of community-based agents going the last mile, to ensure solar reaches a wide range of customers underserved by the grid. Easy Solar currently operates in Sierra Leone, where more than 87 percent of its 7 million population live without electricity and, in rural areas, only 1 percent have access. Since launching operations in 2016, Easy Solar has provided electricity to over 40,000 people in the country. The company has 35 employees and 40 agents, with points of sales across 8 of Sierra Leone’s 16 districts. To date, Easy Solar has raised over $2 million dollars from the likes of, Acumen, Gaia Impact Fund, Cordaid, the African Enterprise Challenge Fund, MasterCard and SIMA Funds.
Oluwatobi Ajayi, Nigerian
Oluwatobi Ajayi, 30, is a co-founder and CEO of Jetvan Automobiles Limited, the largest authorized dealer of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in Nigeria. He started his career at Mercedes-Benz Nigeria where he became the Head of division (Commercial vans) at 24. In 2015, he pulled together a group of investors and founded Jetvan which sells more than 500 vehicles every year.
Paul Kihiko, Kenyan
Founder, Wing It Nairobi
30 year-old Kihiko is the founder of Wing It Nairobi, Kenya’s first and only wings-only Quick service restaurant. Its first outlet at the Galleria Shopping Mall in Kenya has been extremely successful and is doing 6-figures annually in revenue. Last year, Wing It raised $75,000 from two investors for a minority stake in Kenya’s edition of Dragons’ Den. Kihiko is set to open other outlets this year.
Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed Falalu, Nigerian
Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed Falalu, 27, is the founder of Falgates, a company that farms and mills rice. Falgates owns a rice milling facility that has a capacity of 15 tons per day and has a rice farm that employs more 180 people in Kaduna state in northern Nigeria. The company had revenues of $400,000 in 2017.
Etop Ikpe, Nigerian
Etop Ikpe is the founder of Cars45, Nigeria’s foremost auto auctioning and car buying service. In May last year, Cars45 raised a $5 million Series A round from the Frontier Cars Group. Ikpe is a veteran entrepreneur with experience in transport, automobiles, mobile communications technology, and marketing. Etop was previously the Commercial Director of Konga, one of Nigeria’s largest e-commerce platforms, and formerly the CEO and Co-MD of DealDey, West Africa’s answer to Groupon.
Obinna Okwodu, Nigerian
Obinna Okwodu, a 27-year-old MIT grad and ex-Morgan Stanley Investment Bank analyst, is the founder of Fibre, a real estate booking start-up in Lagos that allows middle-income tenants the option to pay monthly. Renting residential real estate in Lagos, Nigeria could be a hassle. Not only are houses overpriced, Landlords typically demand potential tenants to pay up to 24 months years rent upfront. As a result, Fibre is growing fast and is gaining popularity with many middle-income earners in Lagos.
Gossy Ukanwoke, Nigerian
Education entrepreneur, Gossy Ukanwoke, 30, is the founder of BAU Executive Education which provides Executive Education Programs to professionals, executives and graduates looking to develop business and leadership skills online and on-campus. His holding company, BAU R&D has completed investments in two Nigerian traditional Universities. He is also the President of EduTech Nigeria, an tech company that works with universities to automate the online student lifecycle from recruitment to graduation by helping African traditional universities take their on-campus degree programs online through the implementation of the best of technology, process management, recruitment, admissions and advisory.
Rahma Bajun, Tanzanian
Founder, MnM Clothing Line
Bajun, 29, is the founder and Creative Director of MnM Clothing Line, a popular Afro-centric clothing brand in Tanzania that produces affordable clothes, wallets and other fashion accessories for men and women using the popular East African Kitenge fabric. The company has 7 full-time employees and sells its products across East Africa.
Idris Sultan, Tanzanian
Founder, Sultan By Foremen
25-year-old Tanzanian national Idris Sultan won the 2014 edition of Big Brother Africa, walking away with the $300,000 cash prize. He has put that money to good use. In 2017, he founded Sultan By Foremen, a footwear brand that has become extremely popular amongst Tanzania’s hip, urban population. Sultan By Foremen did more than $200,000 in revenues in 2017.
Anerlisa Muigai, Kenyan
Anerlisa Muigai, the daughter of revered Kenyan alcohol tycoon Tabitha Karanja, is forging her own path. Muigai, 30, is the founder of Nero, a beverage company that manufactures and sells the top selling Executive Still Water brand across Kenya.
Fahad Awadh, Tanzanian
Founder, YYTZ Agro-Processing
Fahad Awadh, 30, is the founder of YYTZ Agro-Processing, a cashew processing company that is adding value locally while creating jobs and boosting the income of farmers and the community as a whole. The company’s flagship processing facility in Zanzibar has an installed capacity of 2,500 Tons per annum. Last year, YYTZ Agro-Processing raised a $500,000 investment from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund to establish another processing facility in Mtwara, southeastern Tanzania.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, Rwandan
Founder, Habona Ltd
Jean Bosco is the Founder and CEO of Habona Limited, a company that provides integrated waste management services and further processes the waste into affordable and environmentally friendly fuels such as biogas and biomass briquettes. The company is also diversifying into the installation and operation of clean power plants, ranging from waste to energy, such as solar, biomass, hydro, and wind, as well as climate-smart farming.
Patricia Majule, Tanzanian
Founder, Unique Favors
24-year old Patricia Majule is the director and founder of Unique Favors TZ, a company that locally designs and manufactures custom party supplies, box packages, favors & gifts for informal parties and corporate organizations across Tanzania. Majule founded the business in 2014 when she noticed that many Tanzanians were importing paper supplies from abroad. The business has been growing consistently ever since and Majule now has 10 employees.
Ricky Rapa Thompson, Ugandan
29-year-old Ugandan entrepreneur Ricky Rapa Thompson is a co-founder of SafeBoda, Uganda’s ‘Uber‘ for motorcycle taxis. He has been instrumental to growing Safeboda into a large community of over 1,000 riders who have come to embrace technology through the SafeBoda app.
Doreen Estazia Noni, Tanzanian
Founder, 102.5 Lake FM
Doreen Estazia Noni is the founder of Eskado Bird, an upscale Tanzanian fashion and lifestyle brand that produces accessories inspired by East Africa’s Kitenge fabric. She is also the owner of 102.5 Lake FM, a community centric commercial radio station in Mwanza, Tanzania.
Ronke Bamisedun, Nigerian
Founder, BWL Agency
Ronke Bamisedun, 30, is the founder of BWL Agency, a leading boutique Public Relations agency based in Lagos, Nigeria. BWL Agency has advised multinational companies such as Pandora, Moet Hennessy, Pernod Ricard and Universal Music Group as well as many non-government organizations. BWL Agency is also the exclusive affiliate for Grayling in Nigeria.
Mostafa Kandil, Mahmoud Nouh, Ahmed Sabbah, Egyptians
The Egyptians, who are all under the age of the 27, are the founders of Swvl, a premium mass transit system that provide buses to every neighbourhood in Cairo. It allows people to share a ride in a van or bus during morning and evening commutes for a fixed flat fare with no surge pricing. Through an app, one can book a ride at an affordable rate. Last year, Careem, a ride-hailing app based in Dubai, invested $500,000 in Swvl in return for a minority stake. Swvl, which was launched in March 2017, already has a team of more than 30 people and completes 100,000 rides per month across Cairo and Alexandria.
Rodrique Msechu, Tanzanian
Founder, Anza Strategy
After working for the French trade office in Nairobi for three years, Msechu returned to Tanzania in 2016 to found Anza Strategy with a clear vision and mission: To drive economic advancement by encouraging participation and accountability of African changemakers. Anza, a trade advisory company has since advised more than 30 companies from four continents on market intelligence and entry strategies into Tanzania.
June Syowia, Kenyan
Founder, Beiless Group
At just 22, Syowia runs Beiless Group, a fast-growing experiential and digital marketing agency that has handled marketing campaigns for more than 50 popular Kenyan brands over the last two months. Syowia is a recipient of the 2017 Global Student Entrepreneur Award in Kenya.
Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate, Cote D’Ivoire
Founder, Poultry d’Or
Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate, 23, is the founder of Poultry d’Or, a company that produces and distributes fresh poultry products and agro-foods. Their products are slaughtered, cleaned, packaged and delivered all in the same day. The company specializes in the production and distribution of agri-food products and they aim to sell chicken at competitive prices directly to the consumer. Konate was the 2017 winner of the prestigious Anzisha prize.
Nasir Yammama, Nigerian
Founder, Verdant Agri-Tech
Yammama is the founder of Verdant, an AgriTech value chain company that seeks to support rural crop farmers for improved food production using mobile phones. The company offers mobile agricultural extension, market information, managerial support, and access to financial services to smallholder farmers.
Simbarashe Mhuriro, Zimbabwean
Founder, Oxygen Private Energy Limited
Mhuriro, 32, is the founder and Managing Director of Oxygen Energy Private Limited, an independent power producer and renewable energy development company that specializes in utility scale power plants and commercial rooftop projects. In 2017, the African Development Bank (AfDB)-managed sustainable energy fund for Africa (SEFA) approved a US$ 965,000 grantto Oxygen Energy Private Limited to support the preparation of a bankable business case for the development of a 20MW off-grid solar photovoltaic rooftop project on buildings owned and managed by Old Mutual Property Group, Zimbabwe’s largest property investment managers. When the project is completed, it will provide reliable and competitive solar power to hundreds of small and medium sized enterprises throughout Zimbabwe.
Abdellah Mallek, Algerian
The 28-year-old Algerian entrepreneur is the founder of one of the first private startups accelerator in Algeria called Sylabs. Sylabs is a co-working, creation space and talent accelerator located in downtown Algiers that mixes startup art, technology and entrepreneurship to promote creativity and talent development.
Gloria Michelle Otieno Muka, Kenyan
In 2013, Gloria Michelle Otieno Muka, 31, founded Recours Four Kenya Consultants Limited (R4Kenya), a fast-growing professional HR services firm located in Nairobi, Kenya. She started the firm with $2,000 of her savings, and within the last 4 years, she has grown the company into a $400,000 (annual revenues) business with more than 15 employees. Recours Four Kenya offers professional HR services in consultancy, recruitment, training, psychometric testing and staff outsourcing. The company’s clients include the World Bank group, Kenya National Examination Council, USAID, GlaxoSmithKline and Sportpesa.
Brigitha Faustin, Tanzanian
Founder, OBRI Company
Faustin, 31, is the founder and managing Director of OBRI Company, an Agro-Industrial company whose main businesses include edible oils manufacturing and fractionations under the OBRI brand. OBRI Company is modeled as a co-operative social enterprise. Under this model, OBRI has empowered more than 230 local Tanzanian farmers who are organized under farmers associations in Tanzania by providing sustainable market channels for their produce. OBRI’s cooking oils are sold in retail outlets across the country.
Harold Okwa, Nigerian
Nigerian-born entrepreneur, Harold Okwa, 30, is the founder of Vestates, a luxury real estate agency based in Abuja. He is also the founder of Jetseta, a company that provides easy and affordable access to private air travel and helicopter shuttle services through a mobile app that seamlessly connects travelers to private aviation providers at attractive fares worldwide, on the go.
Rajiv Mehta, Kenyan
Founder, Tangerine Investments
Rajiv Mehta, 32, is the founder of Tangerine Investments, an outdoor advertising firm that uses public transit vehicles, litterbins and street poles to market leading consumer goods in Kenya. Tangerine, which was founded in 2008, has clients such as Kenya Airways, Pizza Inn, Subway and Coca Cola HP among others. The company recorded revenue of more than $1 million in 2017.