Africa is brimming with precocious entrepreneurs. The continent is becoming a hot-bed for innovation, with new start-ups and tech hubs hatching at a dizzying pace, emerging from the chaotic dynamism of Kampala, the golden beaches of Cape Town and everywhere in-between.
You may not have heard of these enterprising men and women but Forbes have picked them out as 15 of the most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa right now. Which young buck would you rather have as a boss?
The Cameroonian engineer is the inventor of the Cardiopad, a touch screen medical tablet that enables heart examinations such as the electrocardiogram (ECG) to be performed at rural locations while the results of the test are transferred wirelessly to specialists who can interpret them. The device spares African patients, living in remote areas, the trouble of having to travel to urban centers to seek medical examinations. Zang is the founder of Himore Medical Equipments, the company that owns the rights to the Cardiopad.
Mutambo describes himself as an entrepreneur, marketing whiz and all round blogger. He is also the brains behind the recently launched esaja.com – a business network that is dedicated to intra-African trade. Esaja stands for empowering solutions and joint action. “Kwame Nkrumah once said ‘I wasn’t born in Africa, Africa was born in me.’ This quote defines me as an entrepreneur,” he says. “We have a massive African youth bulge and need to get this lion roaring or else it’ll devour its own future. Trade is key.”
Founder, Oasis Websoft
Owusu is a software engineer based in Accra, Ghana, and was dubbed the Mark Zuckerberg of Accra by FORBES AFRICA in November 2012. He runs Oasis Websoft, which developed the Anansi Web Browser – hailed as Africa’s first web browser. His most recent projects include Anansipedia, an education platform that allows less privileged students to share educational resources; and Bisa, a mobile application that supplies information to the public and gives them access to doctors.
Founder and CEO, HeHe Labs
Iribagiza runs a Kigali-based company, HeHe Labs, which builds mobile technology solutions for the government and private companies looking to improve their operational efficiency. HeHe means ‘where’ in Kinyarwanda, says Iribagiza, who founded the research and innovation lab in 2010 while still in college studying computer engineering. HeHe has over $200,000 in revenues annually. In 2012, HeHe won a $50,000 grant from Inspire Africa, a Rwandan TV entrepreneurial contest.
Julie Alexander Fourie
28, South Africa
Fourie is the founder of iFix, which repairs and services all Apple products and Samsung smartphones. The company employs 40 people and services more than 4,000 clients a month. iFix has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. 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. Satisfied customers recommended Fourie’s business and it took off.
28, Republic of Congo
Tech Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO, VMK
Mankou is the founder of VMK and the creator of the first African-made mobile phone, Elikia. He is also the inventor of Way-C tablet, Africa’s version of the iPad. Mankou, the son of a school mistress and an oil engineer, provides affordable smart devices in Africa and increases Internet access in the Republic of Congo. Before receiving $700,000 from the Congolese government, Mankou had to finance his project himself. Banks refused to help him because he was too young and “a little bit crazy,” he says.
25, South Africa
Founder, Headboy Industries
Marishane was in high school when he came up with DryBath, a gel that does all the work of a bath without water. Within a year, he launched Drybath with his company Headboy Industries. He had previously tried his hand at business with his own brand of biodiesel, healthy cigarettes and a security magazine. 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. Google named him as one of the most intelligent young brains in the universe.