Under30: Technology Category 2019 (PART 1)

Under30: Technology Category 2019 (PART 1)

This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future. The list is in no particular order: This year marks the fifth milestone annual FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list, and we have introduced a new category of game-changers. Together, they are 120 in total across four sectors: business, technology, creatives and sport. Meet the class of 2019, a stellar collection of entrepreneurs and innovators rewriting rules and taking bold new risks to take Africa to the future. The list is in no particular order: Nthabiseng Mosia, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla 1. Nthabiseng Mosia, 28, Sierra Leone Co-founder and CMO: Easy Solar Nthabiseng Mosia grew up on the outskirts of the township of Alexandra in South Africa, and while attending high school, load shedding (scheduled power cuts) and electricity black outs would affect her studies. “So when the lights went out, we lived by candlelight. The first few nights, it was fun and somewhat romantic,” she tells FORBES AFRICA. But a few months into the electricity crisis, the novelty wore off. Mosia was frustrated while studying for her final high school exams under a dim light of a wick, not knowing at the time that this frustration would be the catalyst that drove her to start Easy Solar. If load shedding was affecting her to this extent, then how much more for millions of Africans who do not have daily electricity? Mosia made it her personal mission to fix this problem. While studying Global Energy Policy and Finance at Columbia University in 2015, she started Easy Solar, along with her co-founders Eric Silverman and Alexandre Tourre. They founded the business in Sierra Leone, where almost 90% of people did not have electricity at the time. They introduced an entry-level solar product into their business model in an attempt to really target low-income customers. Today, Easy Solar supplies, installs and services all variety of solar systems. They also sell solar PV panels, PV mounting structures, solar charge controllers, solar inverters, lead-acid and Li-Ion batteries. Easy Solar has also expanded to Liberia, and plans to expand into Guinea in the next few years. 2. Evans Akanno, 29, Nigeria Founder and CEO: Cregital With N600,000 ($1,600), Evans Akanno founded Cregital, a creative and digital platform, in 2015. The company designs and builds websites and platforms for African startups and corporates. “Running a startup in Nigeria with a lean budget, especially in our economy, requires a lot of courage,” he says. This is because some of the challenges they face include the high cost of power and the liability of the internet in Nigeria. However, Akanno says in starting the company, he had to make sure it was bootstrapped from the beginning especially when building the team as he says they hired “attitude over skill”. Over the years, he has won numerous awards including the 2018 Nigeria Technology Awards as the Tech Young Achiever of the Year and the 2016 Future Awards Africa Prize for Creative Professional. Last year, he founded another tech platform, called Farmkart, which enables people to bank in agriculture by investing in fish farming. In the same year, he also launched Acts of Random Kindness, Cregital’s CSR initiative to give back to the community 3. Michael Paul Mollel, 29, Tanzania Co-founder and Executive Chairman: Jimz Technologies Co. Ltd Michael Paul Mollel is taking a college startup to the world. He started providing IT support when he was only 15 years old. He would sell IT equipment such as dongles and flash drives to students and professors. In 2015, while attending university, the IT enthusiast sought to solve an existing gap at his institution. “While pursuing an MBA, I kept noticing that both students and professors had problems with their laptops [and] had no where they could rely to have their laptops attended and fixed,” he says. That’s when Jimz Technologies Co. Ltd was born. Initially, they only had enough money to pay for the first month’s rent, including a chair and table. A year later, clients started filing in and the contracts for IT support grew. Now, their reach is global and they also provide IT support services for international companies such as Tetra Tech and Winrock International. “It is possible for an African college startup to go miles; even the sky is not the limit anymore. Our team has grown from two to 10; and our sales have almost quadrupled in 2018,” he says. Next year, Mollel says they plan to open an office in Kigali; part of his plan in taking his college startup everywhere 4. Nureshka Viranna, 27, South Africa Co-founder and Director: ShopLi Nureshka Viranna grew up in Durban in South Africa and comes from a family of academics. Despite being encouraged to pursue a similar route, Viranna’s passion was in marketing, technology and innovation. So she quit her teaching job in 2015 to follow her dreams. She co-founded an e-commerce company called ShopLi and broke every norm, becoming the first entrepreneur in her family. “It was the best decision and financial investment I made,” she tells FORBES AFRICA. ShopLi is an e-commerce company that designs and develops online stores and catalogues for businesses that can’t afford high rentals or to pay salaries. “They now had the ability to sell to anyone in the world and operate 24/7,” she says. She currently employs a team of five. At the end of last year, she was asked by a friend to assist her son with learning Afrikaans, but she couldn’t find any online resources to help. This led her to found another business in 2019 called Lit Academy. She created an online course focusing on video and study guides to help learners improve their marks. “Lit Academy has given us the opportunity to make quality education available to learners, at a fraction of the cost of tuition. Our aim is to disrupt the education system in South Africa,” she says. Viranna describes herself as an innovator, disruptor and entrepreneur and aims to become a leading woman in the e-commerce and digital space. 5. Jacob Rugano, 29, Kenya Co-founder and director: AfricarTrack International Jacob Rugano founded a company called AfricarTrack International after developing a mobile-controlled road-accident control system that uses a mobile phone to reduce accidents on the road. It all started when one of his cousins was involved in an accident. “The accident was caused by a lorry driver who was driving while drunk and over-speeding. Several members of his family died in the accident,” he says. This gave Rugano the impetus to start a tech company as a solution to help curb road accidents and in 2014, AfricarTrack International was born. A programmed chip is installed inside the car which acts as a liaison between the car’s computer and the reporting and control system. The system then collects data on whether the driver had been driving drunk, driving carelessly, as well as the location of the vehicle if hijacked. “The sensor also automatically controls the car in case it is about to get involved in an accident, reducing the chances of an accident by over 48.67%,” he says. The company has won numerous awards including the Changemaker Of The Year at the 2016 African Achievers Awards in Sandton, South Africa. He was also listed among the 2016 Top 40 Under 40 Men in Kenya by Business Daily. Rugano is passionate about increasing the number of African tech leaders and currently mentors a group of 150 every Sunday. He plans to expand to South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and install the technology in at least two million vehicles in Kenya 6. Fred Oyetayo, 25, Nigeria Founder and CEO: Fresible Seven years ago, Fred Oyetayo created a digital agency from his university dorm room, unaware that one day it would erupt into a multi-million naira business. Oyetayo is a trained lawyer but enjoyed the digital space more. Fresible, his enterprise, provides services such as website development, software development, digital marketing and events management. Oyetayo says the company has trained over 60 individuals in entrepreneurship, digital marketing and web/app development. Some of their present and past clients include Afe Babalola University, the Federal High Court Nigeria, Dangote Group and First Bank of Nigeria. In August 2018, the company launched Dlaw.ng (formerly law repository), a web application that uses artificial intelligence to provide legal services to small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria. Oyetayo plans on his company being one of the largest tech companies in the world. 7. Alpha Nury, 29, Senegal Founder and CEO: Jamaa Funding Alpha Nury left his career in finance, working with global companies, Chanel, Apple and L’Oréal to start his own business aimed at financing others. With €10,000 ($548,617) in savings, Nury launched Jamaa Funding in 2015. The business is a crowdfunding site aimed at humanitarian and solidarity-based projects using time and money to fund projects all over the world. To date, they have had numerous successfully-funded projects such as the creation of a farming school, overcoming sickle cell disease, green turtle protection, funding a football team and building a new school. Nury’s platform has had successful campaigns with 24,102 supported people in Africa, 150 supported people in Asia, and 40 in America. “Joy is the feeling that we felt the first time a project was funded on the platform and it is a feeling that we continue to have with the same intensity every time. Seeing dreams come true is our reason to exist as a company,” Nury tells FORBES AFRICA. “By 2020, we hope to have impacted 500,000 people via our platform.” Some of his biggest milestones have been collaborating with the World Bank and the African Union. Tropics Magazine shortlisted him as one of theMost Influential People in Business in 2018, alongside Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN. Hansley Noruthun, member of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019. Picture: Supplied 8. Hansley Noruthun, 27, Mauritius Founder: Mauritius Space and Science Foundation Hansley Noruthun was born and raised in the village of Triolet in Mauritius, where being a part of the space industry was just a dream. Now, it has become his reality. Noruthun is the founder of the Mauritius Space and Science Foundation (MSSF), a community in Mauritius for space, aeronautics and science professionals, students and enthusiasts. They tackle local and regional issues, using space applications and technologies in areas such as agribusiness, maritime, climate change, earth observation, health and engagement of youth and women in the sector. It all started when he received a full scholarship by the UK Space Agency and European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications to complete the Space Studies Program 2015 hosted by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in US. The following year, he received the Space Generation Leadership Award by the Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications and elected the National Point of Contact (NPoC) for Mauritius. This gave him the exposure to further develop MSSF. He recruited a team of 18 from other African countries, and together, they managed to secure a proposal to host the African Space Generation Workshop series in Mauritius. “The foundation also managed to connect over 25% of the national general public reaching over 300,000 out of the 1.3 million population,” Noruthun says. Noruthun’s future plans are stratospheric. “We will be starting with our exclusive National Space Tour, that will be running globally. This is a new project part of the agenda for the foundation that will be launched this year,” he says. 9. Schizzo Thomson, 29, Malawi Founder and Managing Director: Sky Energy Power failure in Malawi is a prominent issue. But the lightbulb came on for a young Malawian electrical engineer from the city of Blantyre. Schizzo Thomson left the company he was working with in Ireland, returned to Malawi, and registered his business in 2015. Sky Energy designs, supplies and installs solar energy and power backup systems. “I have always said that I never started my business with any money but I started with an idea,” he tells FORBES AFRICA. One of his biggest projects was designing and installing a 40KW solar power system at Mulanje Mission Hospital. Thompson currently employs 32. They have since expanded to Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. 10. Wilford Mwanza, 29, Zimbabwe Founder and CEO: FordOlutions Wilford Mwanza once attempted to build a power station to increase the efficiency of the national electricity utility in Zimbabwe. He initiated and drafted a roadmap for the establishment of a smart grid in Zimbabwe, with assistance from the management at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). This spark of electricity resulted in the creation of Mwanza’s company, FordOlutions. It provides simplified practical training on the applications of robotics using NXT Lego robots for SMEs, private businesses, and government organizations in Zimbabwe. “To date, we have trained over 1,000 participants, done data analytics which assisted our clients to have better insights in decision making, inspired high schools kids to dream brighter of a future with robotics,” he tells FORBES AFRICA. The 29-year-old electrical engineer has big plans for Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution. “We believe we are tapping a very green opportunity and have the privilege of directing how the narrative will go in Africa with regard to robotics and automation,” he says. Last year, he was one of 60 Global Shapers at the World Economic Forum on Africa. At the 2017 Enactus World Cup in London, he won the Enactus World Wide Global Alumni of the Year, where he was representing Zimbabwe.

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