Tuesday, 23 June 2015 10:52

Forbes' 30 most promising entrepreneurs in Africa; 6 South Africans and 5 Nigerians make the list

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Ludwick Marishane, the founder of Headboy Industries and the inventor of DryBath. (Image: Headboy Industries, Facebook) Six South Africans are on Forbes' latest list of the 30 most promising entrepreneurs under 30 in Africa.

A shortlist of 150 entrepreneurs was compiled through nominations from Forbes Africa readers and its editorial team; the final 30 were decided by a panel of judges from across the continent. In making their choices, they looked at business size, location, struggles and determination.

"Months of research yielded a list of 150 young hopefuls. We worked for weeks, verifying and investigating, to whittle it down," said Forbes Africa. "We favoured entrepreneurs with fresh ideas and took into account their business size, location, struggles and determination. Senior editors then debated and argued over the final 30. We find this list exciting, thought-provoking and forward-looking. We hope you will too."

Besides the six South Africans, there are five from Kenya, five from Nigeria, three from Uganda, two each from Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Ghana, and one each from Mali, Malawi, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Rwanda. They represent all sectors, but there is a strong technology influence - 17 of the companies headed by these entrepreneurs are either tech-based or have technology as their base, such as through apps or online platforms.

The South Africans on the list are:

Bheki Kunene, 27, founder of Mind Trix Media: Mind Trix Media is a creative design company based in Gugulethu, Cape Town. He created eight jobs and a profit with his website-building company. According to Forbes, Kunene had a difficult start. He was falsely accused of murder and suffered a skull fracture in a car accident. Kunene survived to prosper, a lesson to entrepreneurs that if it did not kill you, or imprison you, it made you stronger, said Forbes Africa. That he managed to overcome these odds and build a powerful company earned him a place on the list.

Doug Hoernle, 25, founder of Rethink Education: Rethink Education was established in an effort to make current technology more useful in the schooling system. "We saw the gap in the market where you find people paying R100 000 a year in school fees and yet they still struggle with fractions," Hoernle said.

Rethink's platforms give pupils access to high school mathematics and science content in a chat-styled interface via mobile phones and the web. To date, Rethink Education has distributed maths and science content to more than 500 000 South Africans and is launching in Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Julie Alexander Fourie, 28, founder of iFix: Fourie started iFix in 2006 from his residence room at Stellenbosch University. The company repairs broken and faulty Apple products and Samsung smartphones, and employs 40 people across the country. iFix services more than 4 000 clients a month through its branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Ludwick Marishane, 25, founder of Headboy Industries: While still in high school, Marishane developed DryBath, "a gel that does all the work of a bath without water". After school, he founded Headboy Industries, through which he released the product.

The idea for DryBath was inspired by a friend of Marishane's who was too lazy to bath. "Why doesn't someone invent something that you can put on your skin and then you don't have to bathe?" asked the friend. Marishane, born in Limpopo, was voted the best student entrepreneur in the world by the Entrepreneurs' Organisation and Google named him as one of the most intelligent young brains in the universe.

Max Hussmann, 29, founder, Elegance Group: Hussmann's aviation business, Elegance Group, includes Elegance Air, sport consulting and aviation consulting. He was born in Accra and grew up in Germany, but now lives in South Africa. Elegance offers "the hour package flying principle" with chartered airlines, where companies are able to buy bulk hours of 25 to 50 hours and use them when it suits them. Hussman is also a 2016 swimming Olympic hopeful.

Rupert Bryant, 29, co-founder of Web Africa: At just 14, Bryant dropped out of school and started running his own web development company. Two years later he became the co-founder of Web Africa, one of South Africa's biggest internet service providers.

Web Africa, today an $11-million (R133.5-million) a year business, was started with no money. In 2014, Bryant relaunched Accommodation Direct, an online tourism business that specialises in short-term accommodation rentals.

Young Africans to watch

The other top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs, in alphabetical order, are:

Abiola Olaniran, 26, Nigeria, founder, Gamsole

Affiong Williams, 29, Nigeria, founder, Reelfruit

Alain Nteff, 22, Cameroon, founder, Gifted Mom

Ali-shah Jivraj, 27, Uganda, chief executive, Royal Electronics

Arthur Zang, 27, Cameroon, founder, CardiopadZang

Bankole Cardoso, 26, Nigeria, co-founder, Easy Taxi Nigeria

Best Ayiorworth, 23, Uganda, founder, Gipmo

Catherine Mahugu, 27, Kenya, co-founder, Soko

- Southafrica.info

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