2021

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2021

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Frances MacMahon, 32

Frances MacMahon, 32

Chief executive
Meraki Research

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...

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Zara Randriamanakoto, 35

Zara Randriamanakoto, 35

Postdoctoral researcher and science outreach professional
Ikala STEM

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...

Lineo Leteba | mg.co.za
Zithande Emmanuel Mbala, 35

Zithande Emmanuel Mbala, 35

Chief executive
iWipe

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...

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Zolani Metu, 28

Zolani Metu, 28

Mental health consultant and senior manager
Decolonial Mental Health and Jakes Gerwel Fellowship

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...

Nabeel Allie | mg.co.za
Lwandile Simelane, 34

Lwandile Simelane, 34

First vice president
South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee

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....

Dylan Lazarus | mg.co.za
Kabelo Kgodane, 29

Kabelo Kgodane, 29

Business development manager: Airlines, sub-Saharan Africa
SITA Aero

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...

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Blake Pittaway, 20

Blake Pittaway, 20

Founder and chairperson
Project18

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...

Shai Rama | mg.co.za
Geronimo de Klerk, 18

Geronimo de Klerk, 18

Co-founder
Feed The Future For Life

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....

Nabeel Allie | mg.co.za
Lindo Nkambule, 24

Lindo Nkambule, 24

Associate computational biologist
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

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...

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Lerato Mpye, 34

Lerato Mpye, 34

Scientist
Mintek

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...

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Noluvuyo Gqadu, 34

Noluvuyo Gqadu, 34

Founder and managing director
CodeNgwana

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...

Buntu Ngcuka | mg.co.za
Jameelah Omar, 33

Jameelah Omar, 33

Academic and senior lecturer
The University of Cape Town

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...

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Gcina Dlamini, 34

Gcina Dlamini, 34

Owner and founder
Merchantry Worldwide

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...

Lineo Leteba | mg.co.za
Lana Crowster, 33

Lana Crowster, 33

Musician, educator and consultant
Crow’s Nest Productions

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...

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Tshegofatso Mhlongo, 28

Tshegofatso Mhlongo, 28

Singer and actress
Self Employed

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...

James Nash | mg.co.za
Mpho Mohaswa, 32

Mpho Mohaswa, 32

Founder
Precious and Pearl Brands

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...

Shai Rama | mg.co.za
Khulekani Ngcobo, 28

Khulekani Ngcobo, 28

Chief executive
Just Green It

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...

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Zoë Mahopo, 34

Zoë Mahopo, 34

Head of content development
The Brand Thread

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...

Nabeel Allie | mg.co.za
Kelita Shadrach, 27

Kelita Shadrach, 27

PhD candidate
University of the Witwatersrand

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...

Oratile Mashazi | mg.co.za
Ritesh Ajoodha, 29

Ritesh Ajoodha, 29

Senior lecturer
School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, University of the Witwatersrand

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,...

Dylan Lazarus | mg.co.za
Glad Kaiser, 33

Glad Kaiser, 33

Publisher
Bala Books (Pty) Ltd

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...

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Nonhlanhla Mtshali, 28

Nonhlanhla Mtshali, 28

Manager of Legal Services
Postbank

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...

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Leana de Beer, 35

Leana de Beer, 35

Chief Executive
Feenix

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...

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za
Iviwe Mtubu, 20

Iviwe Mtubu, 20

Student
University of Cape Town

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...

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Swati Dhlamini, 26

Swati Dhlamini, 26

Candidate attorney
TN Mcanyana Attorneys

Swati Dhlamini is an attorney with a passion for community work and youth development. Through the Ubuciko Youth Development Agency, the non-profit organisation he founded, Dhlamini seeks to help people in his community reach their full potential. The agency assists...

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Jean-Marc Johannes, 30

Jean-Marc Johannes, 30

Professional skateboarder
Self-employed

Skateboarder Jean-Marc Johannes has won gold, silver and bronze medals in international competitions, and has set seven Guinness World Records for various skateboard stunts. He’s grown from an asthmatic kid in the Cape Flats to a world champion who’s competed in the...

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Kat Sekhotho, 30

Kat Sekhotho, 30

Reporter
Kaya FM

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...

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za