2021

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2021

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Blake Pittaway, 20

Blake Pittaway, 20

With an aim to combat the abuse and neglect of animals around South Africa, Blake Pittaway started Project18 for his 18th birthday (instead of having a party or receiving presents), and continues to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. Project18 is a...

Frances MacMahon, 32

Frances MacMahon, 32

With a degree in architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand and a master’s in market research from the University of Pretoria, Frances MacMahon is the founder and chief executive of Meraki Research, a market research and consulting agency. She started the...

Zara Randriamanakoto, 35

Zara Randriamanakoto, 35

Zara Randriamanakoto can attest to what anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Having secured a number of qualifications and with academic awards to show for...

Zithande Emmanuel Mbala, 35

Zithande Emmanuel Mbala, 35

Zithande Mbala’s inquisitive nature led him from a career in accounting to the world of invention. Not one to shy away from dreaming big, his first venture, iWipe, looks to innovate an everyday product: toilet paper. Mbala describes iWipe as “smart toilet paper”. It...

Zolani Metu, 28

Zolani Metu, 28

Zolani Metu is the founder and director of Decolonial Mental Health (DMH). Established after Metu completed his master’s in social work at the University of Cape Town, DMH provides Afro-inspired solutions to psychosocial challenges in South Africa. Metu distinguishes...

Lwandile Simelane, 34

Lwandile Simelane, 34

While for many, a simple tally of the post-Olympics medals table is sufficient measure of a country’s sporting health, for Lwandile Simelane, first vice-president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, success must also be measured elsewhere....

Kabelo Kgodane, 29

Kabelo Kgodane, 29

Working in the air transport sector has been particularly trying during the pandemic, but Kabelo Kgodane remains optimistic. “I choose to use this crisis in our industry to build a tomorrow we can all be proud of,” she says. Kgodane, a business development manager at...

Lana Crowster, 33

Lana Crowster, 33

The biggest surprise of Lana Crowster’s 20-year plus career as a musician is quite simply that she has a career in an industry that is not often welcoming to women. In 2018 the songwriter, vocalist, educator, band leader and record label owner founded The Lady Day Big...

Tshegofatso Mhlongo, 28

Tshegofatso Mhlongo, 28

Tshegofatso Mhlongo – or Eli Zaelo, as she’s known on stage – is a multilingual singer who performs in English, Mandarin and isiZulu. Her vocal talent has taken her around the world to study at Trinity College London, as well as in the vocal performance department at...

Mpho Mohaswa, 32

Mpho Mohaswa, 32

To maintain the authenticity of traditional ginger beer, chemical engineer Mpho Mohaswa founded Precious and Pearl Brands – a business that manufactures gemere (a non-alcoholic ginger beer concentrate) under the brand name Ghemere. Mohaswa’s business is rooted in...

Khulekani Ngcobo, 28

Khulekani Ngcobo, 28

Waste management, planting trees, creating awareness and community education on environmental sustainability are just a few of the initiatives driven by Just Green It, a KwaZulu-Natal-based non-profit headed up by Khulekani Ngcobo. While the self-starter says he...

Zoë Mahopo, 34

Zoë Mahopo, 34

When Zoë Mahopo made the switch from journalism to public relations, the same success wasn’t certain. “In 2016, I was awarded the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award for a feature that exposed the poor condition of school toilets in Gauteng township schools,” she...

Geronimo de Klerk, 18

Geronimo de Klerk, 18

When South Africa entered lockdown in March 2020, Geronimo de Klerk was already working within his Elsies River community. Feed The Future For Life started community gardens in the area. “I started the Feed The Future food gardens, which supplies the feeding schemes....

Lindo Nkambule, 24

Lindo Nkambule, 24

The Broad Institute is a world-renowned biomedical research hub and is home to one of South Africa’s most prodigious youngsters in computational biology. Lindo Nkambule has been tasked with leading the development of novel software for analysing large genomic...

Danisa Nkanyani, 27

Danisa Nkanyani, 27

When Danisa Nkanyani began studying at the University of Pretoria, she did so with a scholarship propelling her towards a degree in mining engineering. Working as a mining engineer at Glencore, Nkanyani is involved in the earliest stage of the mining value chain,...

Lerato Mpye, 34

Lerato Mpye, 34

The hard-won PhD in molecular medicine before her 29th birthday and her daughter’s recent graduation from grade R – these are the moments that Mpye cites as the proudest of her life. But it is more than maternal pride: having others flourish academically seems to rank...

Noluvuyo Gqadu, 34

Noluvuyo Gqadu, 34

Technology is the key to unlocking all sorts of opportunities for the youth, and no one knows that better than Noluvuyo Gqadu, founder of CodeNgwana, which teaches children from disadvantaged areas how to code. “I’ve also written stories about technology for kids and...

Jameelah Omar, 33

Jameelah Omar, 33

Visiting the University of Cape Town’s upper campus with her parents, neither of whom had had a tertiary education, eight-year-old Jameelah Omar marvelled at its sprawling ivy and decided that she would one day study there — and she did. With bursaries for both her...

Zilungile Zimela, 32

Zilungile Zimela, 32

When asked what drives her to excel, Zilungile Zimela says: “I am driven by the rural, marginalised and segregated child who does not see beyond the grazing farms and marriage as an immediate attainment of a goal for a girl child.” Zimela was a founding member of the...

Gcina Dlamini, 34

Gcina Dlamini, 34

University of Johannesburg graduate and University of Howard (Washington, DC) dual degree-holder Gcina Dlamini wants to educate people about South Africa and all that it has to offer through travel. She is the founding owner of Merchantry Worldwide, a high-end travel...

Kat Sekhotho, 30

Kat Sekhotho, 30

Reporter Kat Sekhotho covers a broad range of subjects for radio station Kaya FM 95.9, spanning news, politics, education, crime, health and the arts. She anchors the news sometimes and works with the digital department to capture videos to tell stories online. Her...

Gontse Nxumalo, 29

Gontse Nxumalo, 29

Taking considered steps towards entrepreneurship, Orlando Sneaker Care Technicians founder Gonste Nxumalo sought to create an income stream by offering a niche service cleaning and refurbishing sneakers in Orlando, Soweto. After matriculating in 2009, Nxumalo...

Kagiso Kgomane, 29

Kagiso Kgomane, 29

Providing skills development and opening doors for young people is what drives Kagiso Kgomane, the founder and chairperson of the Ga-Rankuwa-based organisation, For The Youth By The Youth. It helps matric learners from disadvantaged communities to access higher...

Kelita Shadrach, 27

Kelita Shadrach, 27

Pursuing a career in archaeology and travelling the world as a result have been beautiful surprises for Kelita Shadrach. She currently holds bachelor’s, honours and master’s degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and, as a PhD candidate, her research...

Athenkosi Nzala, 29

Athenkosi Nzala, 29

Since graduating with a BSc honors in civil engineering and a masters in educational technology from the University of Cape Town, Athenkosi Nzala has gained years of experience in leadership and development from working with companies like the Mandela Rhodes...

Ritesh Ajoodha, 29

Ritesh Ajoodha, 29

Ritesh Ajoodha’s expertise across diverse topics of interest is truly remarkable. A senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Ajoodha combines his passion for pedagogy with his interests in music,...

Glad Kaiser, 33

Glad Kaiser, 33

Soweto-based Glad Kaiser is the publisher and self-declared “head honcho” at his own publishing house, which occupies an extraordinary niche. Inspired by the story of the world’s youngest published author, a four-year-old American girl named Dorothy Straight (who has...

Nonhlanhla Mtshali, 28

Nonhlanhla Mtshali, 28

Technically, Nonhlanhla Mtshali is a manager of legal services with Postbank, but she’s becoming more influential as an attorney who blogs about legal issues for the layman. Her blogs across social media platforms help ordinary people understand some trending legal...

Leana de Beer, 35

Leana de Beer, 35

Started as a response to #FeesMustFall, Feenix is a public benefit organisation that gives students a platform to formalise their fundraising efforts, connecting them with communities that are willing to fund their education. Since 2017, Feenix has supported more than...

Iviwe Mtubu, 20

Iviwe Mtubu, 20

Student and intern teacher Iviwe Mtubu is determined to fight the education system that allows poverty to hinder a child’s opportunities. He’s a director at SHAWCO, a student-led organisation that designs programmes to enhance township education, and is introducing a...