This is TIME’s first annual list of Genius Companies, a compilation of the businesses the magazine’s global network of editors and correspondents believe are inventing the future.
Candidates were evaluated on factors such as originality, influence, success and ambition before the list – which includes the likes of Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Nike, Dominos, SpaceX, Slack and Pinterest – was put together.
Six African startups have earned places on the full list, including two from Kenya. They are connectivity startup BRCK, which has designed a weatherproof, shockproof and battery-powered modem that can provide internet at 3G speeds to up to 100 devices at a time, and Ona, which uses satellite imagery and information from NGOs to create a simple digital mapping system.
Nigeria’s Babymigo, an online community that connects mothers-to-be with information, medical experts, services and other parents, also makes the cut, as does Ghana’s Bitland, which uses blockchain technology to create tamper-proof digital public records to help people prove their land belongs to them.
South Africa is represented by two companies, nutrient recycling startup AgriProtein and Wonderbag, which has developed a heavily insulated container that functions as a non-electric, go-anywhere slow cooker.