1. Mark Shuttleworth, South African
Age: 38 Founder, Knife Capital
When Shuttleworth was 22, he founded Thawte, a digital certificate and internet security company which he sold to VeriSign for $575 million in 1999, when he was 26. Shuttleworth used a fraction of his proceeds to start HBD Capital (now called Knife Capital), a Cape Town-based emerging markets investment fund.
HBD has made a series of successful exits including Fundamo, a mobile financial services company which was acquired by Visa for $110 million in 2011; and csense, which was acquired by GE Intelligent Platforms the same year. Shuttleworth also founded and funds Ubuntu, a computer operating system which he distributes as free open source software. Shuttleworth has a net worth north of $500 million.
2. Ladi Delano, Nigerian
Age: 30 Founder and CEO, Bakrie Delano Africa
Ladi Delano made his first millions as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China. In 2004, at age 22, he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. Solid XS went on to achieve over 50% market share in China. He sold the company for $15 million and invested his funds into his next venture-The Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment holding company focused on mainland China. He is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA) – a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion (market cap) Bakrie Group of Indonesia. Bakrie Delano Africa is responsible for identifying investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and oil & gas and executing them.
3. Justin Stanford, South African
Age: 28 Founder & CEO, 4Di Group
Stanford is a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist. After dropping out of high school, Stanford set out to launch an internet security company which flopped. Today, Stanford’s ESET (a Slovakian anti-virus software package) Southern Africa operates the ESET brand in the region and sells ESET’s range of internet security products in about 20 sub-Saharan countries. Stanford’s ESET brand records over $10 million in annual turnover and controls 5% of the anti-virus market in Southern Africa. Stanford is also the founding partner of 4Di Capital, a Cape Town-based venture capital fund. He is also a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative, a non-profit movement that aims to turn the Cape into Africa’s own Silicon Valley.
4. Magatte Wade, Senegalese
Founder, Adina World Beat Beverages & Tiossan
In 2004 Magatte Wade founded Adina World Beat Beverages, a San Francisco beverage company that manufactures coffee, tea and fruit juices using traditional beverage recipes across Africa and organic ingredients sourced from smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia. Within five years of launching, Adina raised over $30 million and the products began being sold by Whole Foods and United Natural Foods. Magatte stepped down from her position as CEO to grow her second company, Tiossan, a manufacturer of luxury skin care products based on indigenous Senegalese recipes.