7 Young African Entrepreneurs To Watch In 2017

These 7 exceptional talents would surely play significant roles in charting the course of businesses in the African continent in the years ahead. They are all juggernauts in nurturing nascent businesses into maturity on the African continent. Still under 40 years of age, these young and dynamic entrepreneurs have the legendary courage to dare and conquer.

1. Adeniyi Makanjuola, Nigerian

Adeniyi Makanjuola is anything but conventional. His unassuming, self effacing demeanor belies the fact that he is an integral part of the birthing of a plethora of business ventures ranging from aviation to oil & gas, environmental utilities, energy and the financial sectors.

After completing his degrees in Financial Economics from the University of Essex and an M.Sc in Urban Planning and Development from the University College London, UK, Adeniyi moved home to Nigeria to start up a helicopter charter business under the umbrella of his father’s Marine support business- Caverton Offshore Support Group.

A lifelong fascination with aeronautics, aerodynamics and high-octane pursuits led to his decision to learn how to fly. In the course of this endeavor he discovered a gap in the onshore helicopter services market, and what began as sheer curiosity birthed Caverton Helicopters, a disruptor in the African oil & gas industry. Today, Caverton Helicopters boasts of the single largest fleet of ultra modern helicopters operating in Sub Saharan Africa with an 80% market share. This has given him a “seat at the table” and a voice at  HeliOffshore – the global advisory body for the Offshore helicopter industry which had always been the exclusive preserve of large publicly listed multi billion dollar US corporations.

Adeniyi has since gone on to conquer other sectors with a leaning towards large public – private infrastructure projects. He is said to have a sizable personal portfolio of diversified interests in a number of publicly listed and private companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

2.Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe, Tanzanian 

In her former life, Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe was a Tanzanian beauty queen and musician. These days, she is one of Tanzania’s leading female entrepreneurs.

Ntuyabaliwe is the founder of Molacaho, a fast-growing Tanzanian furniture manufacturing company. Molacaho designs and manufactures quality made-to-order furniture, furnishings, designer fabrics, lighting, decor, garden furniture and rugs. Molacaho has created a high-end Afro-centric furniture brand that subtly blends traditional Tanzanian fabrics into contemporary, worldly designs to present a transcontinental finish.

All Molacaho’s products are made using locally sourced, sustainable materials. Molacaho has a modern factory in the heart of Dar es Salaam as well as a showroom. The company employs more than 30 Tanzanians, and has started exporting its

3. Ndijeka Akunyuli Crosby, Nigerian

Ndijeka Akunyuli Crosby is a Nigerian generating a buzz on the African continent with her giant strides in the world of arts and paintings. The Enugu, Nigerian born icon is currently based in Los Angeles, California. After completion of her secondary school education at Queens College, Lagos at the age of 16, Ndijeka travelled to the United States of America for further studies. She bagged a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Yale University School of Art.

The uniqueness of her works lies in an eclectic combination of collage, drawing, painting, printmaking and photo transfers. It is instructive that one of her paintings tagged “Drown” done in 2012 , an acrylic and transfer-on-paper scene of embracing lovers, sold for $1.1 million at Sotheby’s last year which represents a 300 per cent increment of the value of the work estimated at $300,000.

Observers believe Akunyili engages in a global narrative about social and political issues by depicting an imagery that transcends the specificity of individual experience.

4. Fatoumata Ba

The story of Senegal’s Fatoumata Ba, the Chief Marketing Officer of Jumia is as intriguing as they come. She launched Jumia Ivory Coast, an online retail platform supported by Africa Internet Group in 2013. From 10 employees at inception, the staff roll grew to more than 300 in 2015 to emerge as the fastest growing African e-commerce site with more than 500,000 visitors buying over 50,000 products. She later tookover the reins of Jumia Nigeria, the largest e-commerce site in Africa in market share, employees and revenues and has entered into partnership with vendors and iconic brands numbering over 30,000.

At just 29 years, Fatoumata Ba virtually has the world as her oyster.

5. Rupert Ryan South Africa

To describe the rise of South Africa’s Rupert Bryan who became a millionaire before attaining the age of 25 years as meteoric is the understatement of the century. The co-founder of ISP Web Africa grew the company from practically nothing to R130 million per annum. A netizen whose love for the Internet allowed him to metamorphose into one of the leading Internet service providers, Bryan said he dropped out of school at age 14 when he started building websites.

He later teamed up with Matthew Tagg to co-found Web Africa, which specializes in

broadband and hosting services.

6. Ludwick Marishane South Africa

South African Ludwick Marishane, CEO of DryBath Investor, is a prodigy of sorts who invented DryBath at the age of 17. In 2011, he was rated as the best student entrepreneur in the world by the Global Champion of Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards.

Google also named Marishane as one of the 12 brightest young minds in the world while in 2013 Time magazine named him as one of the Top 30 under 30 persons that are changing the world.

He later studied Accounting at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. As a visionary, Marishane, like others, saw opportunities where others saw problems. 24 year old, Marishane talks tough when asked for his take on entrepreneurship, “You shouldn’t need any encouragement. Sure, you can learn some entrepreneurial skills, but the entrepreneurial attitude cannot be taught. You must be able to handle numerous disappointments and you’ve got to stomach risk. If you can’t then it’s best to take a job and draw a salary,” he declared matter-of-factly.

Marishane’s invention, DryBath is a bath substituting gel that completely replaces the need for soap and water. In an environment where water is scarce, the product is a saving grace.

7. Patrick E. Ngowi Tanzania

Tanzania’s Patrick E. Ngowi is another jewel defining the next generation with his industry, uncommon intellect and excellence. He established the Helvetic Group at the tender age of 15 years with just $50. From this modest beginning, he grew the company to a group of diversified companies. Helvetic Solar Contractors, one of his companies was the first to offer solar solutions in Northern Tanzania.

The United Nations honoured him with selection as one of the sustainable development goals’ global pioneers. Ngowi has spoken at various A-list events including conferences like Climate Reality Leadership Corps, Oxford African Conference and Harvard University.


Written by How Africa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Fourteen Zimbabweans Murdered In South Africa

Xenophobic Attacks: Fourteen Zimbabweans Murdered In South Africa!!

caf logo

Hayatou Seeks 8th Term As CAF President