There’s a rising tide of entrepreneurship sweeping across Africa, and the youngsters are riding it vigorously. A growing number of young Africans are not just content waiting around for a proper career bump up the establishment ladder. No. Their ambitions are much more profound; They are setting out to write their own destinies – establishing remarkable enterprises that will transform Africa and reignite its economies.
Every year since 2013, I have assembled a list of 30 incredible young entrepreneurs, all under the age of 35, who are making the most dramatic impact in business in Africa. This year’s call for nominations attracted more than 250 entries from 23 African countries. I enlisted a small group of accomplished African entrepreneurs, Business Journalists, thinkers and thought leaders to select 30 of the most exceptional young entrepreneurs from the lot. This year’s entrepreneurs cut across manufacturing, media, tech, agriculture and fashion. They are impatient to change Africa and together, they represent the entrepreneurial, innovative and intellectual best of their generation.
In no particular order, meet the 2017 class of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa – today’s upstarts, tomorrow’s moguls.
Fahad Awadh, Tanzanian
Founder, YYTZ Agro-Processing
Fahad Awadh, a 29-year old entrepreneur from Tanzania, has set up a cashew processing facility in Tanzania in an effort to bring international standards and traceability to the cashew nuts. He 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. YYTZ Agro-Processing recently raised a $500,000 investment from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund to establish another processing facility in Mtwara, southeastern Tanzania.
Alloysius Attah, Ghanaian
Alloysius Attah, 27, founded Farmerline, a Ghanaian software company and social enterprise, in 2013. With offices in Kumasi and Accra, Ghana, and a current full-time staff of 23, Farmerline builds technologies to connect rural customers to information, financial services, and supply chains, with an emphasis on smallholder farmers. Farmerline has developed multiple proprietary softwares that are used widely across different sectors. These include the MERGDATA platform, a data analytics and insight solution, and PAYTIME, a credit scoring and lending app that uses alternative data sources for farmers with no credit history. The company also provides content messaging to deliver good agricultural practices, weather reports, and market information to farmers, reaching beyond barriers in language, literacy, and connectivity by offering information in local languages. Farmerline’s content messaging (voice and SMS), remote surveying, and data collection services have been deployed across 5 countries by companies, NGOs, and governments. Farmerline has already been profitable for two years, having generated just over $375,000 (USD) in revenues in 2016, up from $284,000 in 2015. To date, Farmerline has reached over 200,000 users across West Africa. The recipient of numerous awards including the 2016 SEED Award and the Financial Times/IFC World Bank Group Transformational Business Award for Achievement in Information and Communication Technology, Farmerline plans to reach 1 million active users by 2020.
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 19 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, 30, 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.
Chude Jideonwo & Adebola Williams, Nigerian
Founders, Red Media
Jideonwo (32) and Williams (31) are co-founders and Partners of RED– a leading full service media-content, communication and Development Company in Nigeria. RED is a network of four media companies focused on Africa’s youth: Red Media Africa, a Public Relations company working in West Africa for Facebook, Uber, Union Bank and Heineken; Generation Y!, a TV and online content company with one of Nigeria’s most popular online newspapers and The Future Project, a social enterprise that hosts Africa’s biggest youth social change event, The Future Awards Africa. StateCraft Inc, one of RED’s subsidiaries, is fast becoming Africa’s leading governance communication and consulting firm.
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