Share Their Story

Gabi Immelman, 31

Founder and chief executive
Mindjoy

As its founder and chief executive, Gabi Immelman heads up Mindjoy, an education technology start-up for children. She trained at the Lincoln Centre of Education in New York and dropped out of her master’s programme in inclusive innovation in education to start working on Mindjoy. Mindjoy offers live virtual coding classes where small groups of kids code with friends on projects supported by a Mindjoy coach.

Immelman wasn’t a neurotypical child, so the school system didn’t always work for her. Her journey of creating projects stemmed from this experience. “Projects have the power to connect peers, invite play and unleash passion in young people — every child should have the opportunity to work on a project of their own,” says Immelman. She has since worked with thousands of children from all walks of life, cultivating a community where young people come together to learn valuable skills such as programming.

Build an audience, find something that puts fire in your heart and double down on it.

Author - Ncumisa Lerato Kunana
Vann van Staden, 35

Vann van Staden, 35

Motor journalist
APEX magazine

Vann van Staden is a motor and lifestyle journalist who wants to build a team of enthusiasts who — on paper — wouldn’t stand a chance to write their own success stories.

In 2021, Van Staden decided to take a leap of faith and launch an independently owned motoring magazine called APEX. With this magazine, she aims to challenge the stigma that success in the male-dominated industry is unachievable for women.

APEX magazine tries not to be “just another car magazine”, by bringing a young twist to the motoring industry. Van Staden plans to achieve this by empowering aspiring writers who have not had opportunities to qualify for writing jobs.

“Everything I know has been self-taught and self-made,” she says. “Given the right guidance and tools, young writers can make anything happen.”

“Go for it. Don’t be shy. Don’t let your gender or anything hold you back.”

Simon Dey | mg.co.za
Zinhle Simamane, 33

Zinhle Simamane, 33

Chief financial officer
Traxtion

Zinhle Simamane trained as a chartered accountant at Wits. She started her career at Zanusi Brand Solutions, then accepted positions at PwC and Barclays, before taking on the role of chief financial officer at rail services solutions company Traxtion, a position she still holds.

“I’m responsible for managing all the finance-related matters of our international subsidiaries, associates and branches, which includes operations in Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Namibia, with planned expansions into Senegal and the DRC,” she says.

Simamane’s work requires a deep understanding of the requirements and regulations in each country, as they all present unique challenges in terms of operations, accounting and taxes. “I need to hold and manage key strategic relationships with various stakeholders, which includes government entities and regulators in multiple international jurisdictions. It is a complex and ever-changing role, which is what attracted me to it.”

“Focus on the path that you are on and what it is that fulfils you. No one knows you better than yourself, so trust in that.”

Sandiso Ngu​​bane | mg.co.za
Tshepiso Malema, 19

Tshepiso Malema, 19

Founder and chief executive
Gamer’s Territory

“Tshepiso Malema has a passion for entrepreneurship and gaming. By the time he was 16, he started his own company, Gamer’s Territory, which has helped bridge the divide between video game access and township life.
As the world surges into the fourth industrial revolution, Malema is determined that the youth in South Africa’s townships are not left behind. His company is now providing coding and robotics classes to children in disadvantaged areas, exposing them to technology and a free-flowing entrepreneurial spirit.
More recently, Malema founded the organisation Tshepiso Malema Speaks, which equips the newly matriculated with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to find success. “The entrepreneurship space taught me to take risks and I cannot take risks if I still wanted validation,” he said.
Malema teaches those around him to have agency and build self-belief through actions that have an impact on society and the great potential of South Africa’s youth.”

You can become a successful entrepreneur, no matter what age you are, no matter what educational qualification you have.

Jennifer Worthington-Smith | mg.co.za
Tebogo Seloane, 30

Tebogo Seloane, 30

Chairman and group chief executive
Aruba Group (Pty) Ltd

Tebogo Seloane is the chairperson and chief executive of the Aruba Group (Pty) Ltd, the holding company of two subsidiary entities in the oil and energy fields. In his leadership role, he oversees top-level executives and engages with various stakeholders in the field: shareholders, government entities and representatives of multinational companies.
Once a university dropout with no real plan, Seloane’s drive and ambition soon took the wheel, transporting him to a rung high on the corporate ladder at the age of just 30. Despite championing a sector reliant on fossil fuels, he is vocal about the need for sustainability and strives to ensure a high standard of social responsibility in Aruba’s practices.
He wants to see South Africa shift its focus from the provision of primary goods to become a secondary goods supplier, with a focus on innovation.

“Listen to your parents, but make the choices yourself.”

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Thando Hlongwane, 24

Thando Hlongwane, 24

Co-founder and chief executive officer
Lipa Payments

Education and financial inclusion are among Africa’s biggest challenges, and Thando Hlongwane has made it his mission to use technology to solve them.
The young entrepreneur pioneered two companies while studying computer science at the University of Cape Town. He was a member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation’s foresight initiative committee, and continues to work with industry leaders on cutting-edge technologies that improve the world we live in.
Hlongwane built on his experience as a finance and tech entrepreneur to found Lipa Payments, a contactless payment solution available across Africa. His proudest moment was to have one of the largest banks in South Africa use Lipa Payments software in a recent pilot programme.
He sits on the steering committee for the Unicef Youth Agency Marketplace project, which aligns with his vision to empower African youth through digital skills development.

“Surround yourself with honest, smart and hardworking people, and the rest you’ll figure out together with them.”

Daniël De Jager | mg.co.za
Thato Magasa, 33

Thato Magasa, 33

Managing director
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa

As managing director of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, an automotive retailing original equipment manufacturer, Thato Magasa oversees the company’s operations locally and in Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia with the help of a franchised retail dealer network.

Magasa ended the 2021 calendar year with sales up by 71.5% from the previous year. This meant that the company was operating above pre-Covid-19 levels. Even more importantly, “through environmental, social and governance initiatives, we are able to directly contribute towards a better South Africa,” says Magasa.
Magasa keeps being impressed and surprised by the resilience of South Africans despite the challenges we face. This also motivates him to work towards reducing unemployment and inequality in our country. He says he would, however, like to make more time for exercise. He advises the youth of South Africa to never lose their work ethic and to be patient with themselves.

We are able to further contribute towards the betterment of our society through the growth and development of our staff.

Alexander Brand | mg.co.za
Theo Baloyi, 32

Theo Baloyi, 32

Founder and chief executive
Bathu

Pivoting from accounting to footwear might seem like a bizarre thing to do, but that’s exactly what Theo Baloyi did. After a challenging start, the qualified accountant and entrepreneur started selling sneakers from the boot of his car. They sold out within days and Bathu, the first authentically South African sneaker brand, was born.
Today, there are 30 Bathu stores nationwide and an online store. Baloyi’s sneakers also enjoyed a hugely successful collaboration with Castle Lite in 2020, and Baloyi recently received the Young Business Leader of the Year award at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards. He says his proudest moments have been expanding Bathu’s retail footprint during the pandemic, creating sustainable jobs and maintaining the positive impact it has on communities at large. Baloyi wants to see a positive change in South Africa’s economy and an improvement in the unemployment gap. These are the pillars of Bathu and what drives Baloyi to excel.

I would encourage the younger generation to start now and reset their mindset to think entrepreneurship.

Shereen Goosen | mg.co.za
Tiang Moabelo, 28

Tiang Moabelo, 28

Founder and chief executive officer
Loadalot

Tiang Moabelo demystifies and diversifies artificial intelligence (AI), using it as a workable, digital solution to logistical problems. His company Loadalot aligns packing, cleaning, storage, moving and unpacking through an ecosystem of strategic partners.

His vision is to make the fourth industrial revolution a reality for everyone, and show future generations the vast potential of AI. Moabelo has developed and launched the first South African AI solution in the moving and storage industry, and is encouraged by the interest shown by the youth in his company’s product.

He has an accounting and commerce background and imbues his work with the efficiency taught by these professions. Moabelo knows how much consumers value speed of service and the role that AI will play going forward excites him. With ambitions to work with the informal sector, Loadalot is a future-fit company to keep an eye on.

“It’s imperative to embrace pain and failure as part of the journey, and never take them as deterrence.”

Albert Troost | mg.co.za
Siyavuya Bandezi, 17

Siyavuya Bandezi, 17

Founder and managing director
Liyana Beauty

Hair always has been and always will be a big deal for Africans, says Siyavuya Bandezi, the founder and managing director of Liyana Beauty.
Sporting an afro and glowing skin, Bandezi is a walking advertisement for her company’s hair and skincare products made from indigenous plants, tested and approved by the South African Bureau of Standards.
The unusual thing is that she’s only 17, and still studying at The Glen High School in Pretoria.
Liyana Beauty was born out of her frustration with her hair’s inability to retain moisture. “I have this big afro that I love and it was becoming a mission to maintain it,” she says. Seeking a quick and simple daily routine, she researched the power of plants and began making her own products, which has grown into this business.
Bandezi sells Liyana Beauty products online and at craft markets, and hopes to soon feature in major retailers.

Don’t allow age stereotypes to dictate what you can do when.

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Sibusiso Xaba, 32

Sibusiso Xaba, 32

Founder and chief executive
Africa Cannabis Advisory Group

The aim of creating 130 000 jobs in the legal cannabis industry in South Africa isn’t the only point on the agenda for Sibusiso Xaba, the co-founder and chief executive of Africa Cannabis Advisory Group.

After leaving his investment banking job in London to move back to South Africa and start a business, Xaba wanted to build an organisation that plays an instrumental role in helping South Africa to realise its potential in the growing cannabis industry.

The goal of the Africa Cannabis Advisory Group is to implement affordable healthcare and climate-friendly industrialisation, which would mean that ordinary South Africans could play a major role in securing a sustainable future.

Xaba says that he is “most excited about being part of a growing movement of young entrepreneurs who are building the Africa of tomorrow, an Africa that reflects the potential of its people; an Africa we can be proud of”.

“I would like to see the legal cannabis industry in South Africa bring hope and opportunity to some of the most neglected communities in the country.”

Simon Dey | mg.co.za
Sihlesenkosi Majola, 33

Sihlesenkosi Majola, 33

Founder and chief executive
Popping

Sihlesenkosi Majola is the chief executive of Popping, a Gauteng-based platform that assists small businesses in discovering pop-up markets and booking stall space for their stores. Majola intends to help as many small businesses as possible, motivated by his belief that small businesses are the future of employment in South Africa.
During his final year at the University of Zululand, Majola left his studies in order to pursue business full time. Today, he works together with the Popping team to host strategic markets in some of the most popular shopping centres in and around Gauteng. One of Majola’s proudest moments was being invited to speak about the state of e-commerce in Africa at the 2019 World Economic Forum.
“Make sure you get the right people around you and don’t be afraid to tackle hard choices. Always hold people accountable for their actions,” he says.

Small businesses are the future of employment in South Africa.

Grace Winkler | mg.co.za
Sivuyile Pezulu, 33

Sivuyile Pezulu, 33

Managing director
iNdalo Water Technologies (Pty) Ltd

Sivuyule Pezulu is the co-founder and managing director of Indalo Water Technologies. The company was started as a response to the ongoing water crisis in South Africa.
The iNdalo objective is to halve freshwater use in Africa. It does this by helping organisations to reclaim their wastewater, treating it on site to become reusable greywater for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing or as cooling water for heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Clients include power stations, mines, resorts, lodges and factories.
Pezulu’s proudest moment was in June of 2021 when iNdalo partnered with a community organisation in Limpopo to raise funds to build safe sanitation facilities for a school. This led to the company pledging 10% of their profits towards providing clean water and safe sanitation solutions to underprivileged schools in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

“Water is an interesting resource in the context of South Africa’s socio-economic landscape, because it highlights the wide divide between the haves and have-nots brought about by inequality.”

Louise van den Bergh | mg.co.za
Siyamtanda Hlobo, 28

Siyamtanda Hlobo, 28

Business development specialist
Eleglam Business & Digital Solutions

What drives Siyamtanda Hlobo more than anything is helping small businesses to reach their full potential. “I feel most alive when I’ve made someone see what they can do with the ideas they have,” she says. While studying business principles at Varsity College, and later accounting science at Unisa, she realised how intrigued she was about running a business, which led her to register her own, Eleglam, in 2017. Her company assists entrepreneurs and start-ups with business development and advisory services. “I’m also passionate about technology, so not only do we assist in developing sustainable businesses, we also build systems that work effectively so that businesses can be profitable and thrive,” she says. Hlobo is a brand ambassador for Yoco Technologies, and a member of the Brics Chamber of Commerce and Industry, EDHE (Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education), and Startup Grind East London.

You don’t have anyone else to push you, you depend on yourself so never waste time.

Luca Hart | mg.co.za
Philip Joubert, 34

Philip Joubert, 34

Cofounder and chief executive officer
OfferZen

In 2022, we’re well into the age of software-based digital transformation and innovation – developers are in high demand, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Philip Joubert, the chief executive officer and founder of OfferZen, knows this and says, “I want more South Africans to realise that software development is one of the best career paths available to them. While you need a degree to become a lot of other professions, you don’t need any qualifications to get started as a software developer.”
OfferZen has created a global marketplace that connects software developers with tech companies. The company started in South Africa and now operates across Africa and Europe. The OfferZen team has grown to more than 150 people mostly based in South Africa and the Netherlands. Joubert and the team share a singular vision of finding thousands of developers their dream jobs while connecting global and local tech communities.

Joubert and the team share a singular vision of finding thousands of developers their dream jobs while connecting the local tech community with the global one. The hardest part of running a tech company is not figuring out the technology, but figuring out the people.

Patrick Visser | mg.co.za
Phumla Randela, 34

Phumla Randela, 34

Chief executive and director
Randela Wine and Lushaka Wealth Solutions

Phumla Randela is the founder and director of Lushaka Wealth Solutions, an accounting firm founded in 2020. She is also the chief executive of Randela Wine, established a year later in 2021. Although mainly focused on red wine, Randela Wine products include rosé and MCC, and are widely available in restaurants and stores.

“The journey of running your own business is not easy; it requires a focused, strategic plan with clear, achievable and realistic goals,” she says.

A qualified business accountant, Randela has shared her motivational speaking skills on podcasts, radio and television. She’s proud of the ongoing success of her two businesses, both of which were founded during the uncertain times of the pandemic. She encourages young South Africans interested in business to seek out opportunities, and to believe in themselves and their abilities.

“I want South Africans to believe in themselves.”

Grace Winkler | mg.co.za
Olwethu Mhlana, 30

Olwethu Mhlana, 30

Founder and chief executive officer
Lulibo Market

Olwethu Mhlana wants to make an impact by helping transform the economy through inclusive policies and platforms, as well as sustainable growth where black and indigenous people have access to funding, business tools and support. She intends to do her part by being at the helm of a mission-driven company.
Mhlana is the founder and chief executive of Lulibo Market, an e-commerce marketplace that connects shoppers in South Africa with high-quality, locally sourced products from black-owned brands. She believes that as an entrepreneur, her journey entails creating access, building sustainable tools, reimagining technology and ultimately empowering other new business owners.
She is committed to a vision to create a culture where consumers are intentional about supporting local small businesses, and she says she won’t rest anytime soon knowing that there is a lot more work to do and people to empower.

You’re capable of anything you set your mind to, just be brave and put in the work.

Patrick Visser | mg.co.za
Nicholas Riemer, 32

Nicholas Riemer, 32

Cofounder and chief executive
The Invigilator

A lasting legacy of the pandemic lockdowns has been that so much of life has moved permanently online. That includes many aspects of education, but sitting exams still requires the students and supervisors to be physically present.
Nicholas Riemer is changing that with an app developed by his company, The Invigilator. The app allows school and university students to write exams at home, while ensuring the exam’s integrity. It works on entry-level smartphones and uses very little data.
Riemer himself is a qualified accountant, which gave him the financial foundation to branch out and build The Invigilator.
It became South Africa’s most downloaded education app in 2021, with more than 20 universities and schools currently using it. It allows students to write their tests in a place that suits them. It also lets teachers conduct continuous assessments, rather than having to call students in for tests.

It’s about never giving up and striving towards your goal every waking minute.

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Nicole Dunn, 26

Nicole Dunn, 26

Venture scale lead
Founders Factory Africa

Nicole Dunn began her career in strategy consulting, supporting pan-African enterprises to set up innovation capabilities, partner with start-ups, and launch new digital products. Realising her passion lies in unlocking unrealised entrepreneurial potential, she redirected her career to supporting early-stage companies solving Africa’s toughest challenges.

Dunn now works as the Venture Scale Lead for Founders Factory Africa, an early-stage investment company that helps start-ups to achieve sustainable business growth. In this role, she oversees a portfolio of 30+ start-ups in 8 African markets that are disrupting traditional industries and enabling inclusion in financial services, healthcare, and agriculture.

Outside of her work-related efforts, she supports start-ups with strategic advice, direct investment and other assistance, with a focus on companies founded by women. Her hope is to see a world in which any entrepreneur with a life-changing idea can access the funding and support to pursue that opportunity – regardless of who they are and where they come from.

“If you act with integrity and intent, even the harshest criticism becomes bearable — and even useful.”

Louise Bell | mg.co.za
Nonhle Matsebula, 27

Nonhle Matsebula, 27

Chief executive
Girl Boss South Africa

Nonhle Matsebula is the cofounder and chief executive of multimedia and beauty brand Girl Boss South Africa. “We develop content that aims to empower girls across Africa between the ages of 16 and 25,” says Matsebula. “We also manufacture and sell beauty products for natural hair and relaxed hair, as well as body care products using natural ingredients.”
Matsebula wants to expand Girl Boss South Africa to a wider audience to help build the confidence of girls. “We are focused on cultivating young minds to develop a boss mentality from the early stages of their lives,” she says. Girl Boss South Africa’s vision of assisting black women to occupy leadership spaces is seen in its content, which provides leadership and collaborative opportunities, educational and informative material, and an expressive creative platform.
Girl Boss South Africa products are available at major retail chain stores nationwide.

Become a cocreator of your life and don’t just have life happen to you.

Sarah Irwin | mg.co.za
Nandi Mkhwanazi, 35

Nandi Mkhwanazi, 35

Farmer
Nanloy Organic Farm

Farmer and entrepreneur Nandi Mkhwanazi sees food not only as a source of nutrition, but also as a tool for poverty alleviation and wealth creation. The owner of agri start-up Nanloy Organic Farm aims to combine innovation and indigenous African knowledge to provide high-value organic fresh produce.
“As a farmer, I have been focused on building healthy soil, protecting local environments and improving biodiversity,” she says. “I love to nurture nature and my work affords me the privilege to carry an entire generation of plants in my hands. I get to see the seeds grow, thrive and fulfil their purpose.”
Through the Ayanda Organic Home & Schools Garden initiative, Mkhwanazi teaches the entire value chain of food production and the power of growing one’s own food, focusing on indigenous crops and nutritious vegetables that are drought resistant. She is also the current SADC chairperson of the Africa Under 40 entrepreneurs network.

I see myself as a seed, and in the true nature of a seed, I grow and thrive through adversity to flourish and later multiply.

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Marea Lewis, 35

Marea Lewis, 35

Founder
Toasted

Marea Lewis is the mind behind Toasted, a space that is more than just sarmies on demand. It’s also a workstation and hangout for entrepreneurs, cloud-based start-ups, or the average young professional trying to work in the gig economy without the luxury of office space.

Lewis signed the lease of her business’s site in Rosebank three days before South Africa went into lockdown. Undeterred, she used the time spent in mandatory isolation strengthening her value proposition and making sure her revenue streams would be plentiful and profitable.

Now, Lewis heads a business that provides safe and inclusive spaces that serve youth, women and small businesses — all while providing delicious food at affordable prices.

Lewis values community above all else. She lifts others up and, in turn, brings opportunity and growth to South Africa.

“If your ‘10 years from now’ starts today, how you treat opportunities as well as people from this moment on will truly be what determines where you are in relation to your goals.”

Jennifer Worthington-Smith | mg.co.za
Mashudu Modau, 31

Mashudu Modau, 31

Start-up ecosystem specialist and founder
Yoco, Lutcha and Founders Sauce

Mashudu Modau is a start-up ecosystem specialist who works with small businesses and creators in South Africa to empower entrepreneurs and build impactful platforms. “My job is to enable people to build the things they believe in with as little friction as possible,” he says.
Aiming to tackle youth unemployment, Modau helps young creators through his own start-up, Lutcha, an African podcast network. He’s also the founder of Founders Sauce, a platform that helps entrepreneurs find the tools they need to launch a business. He ardently believes that the internet and social media are tools that can be used to transform a generation’s prospects. “The university of YouTube has been the institution that’s shaped me the most as an entrepreneur and creator,” he explains.
Modau has worked to connect Yoco with small businesses and also served as a judge for the MTN App of the Year awards for three years.

The internet has no gatekeepers and we should all be taking advantage to create newer and better futures for ourselves daily.

James Nash | mg.co.za
Mavhungu Tracy Nelwamondo, 32

Mavhungu Tracy Nelwamondo, 32

Medical doctor and chief executive of Modern Traditions and Malie’s Ice Cream
Modern Traditions Malie's Ice Cream

Dr Mavhungu Tracy Nelwamondo is inspired by the potential role of food in medicine. As a qualified medical doctor, she says she is honoured to be able to combine this practice with her background in African indigenous healthcare, the culmination of which was her founding Modern Traditions and Malie’s Ice Cream.

Malie’s Ice Cream, named after her son Malibongwe, is an ice cream made from indigenous marula nuts. It includes other healthy ingredients, and has a reduced sugar content.

Modern Traditions provides healthy nutritious staples such as nut butters, baobab powder and indigenous wholegrains.
Nelwamondo’s product range is available at some independent retailers and Pick n Pay stores.

Her vision is a healthy South Africa; she is driven to excel by a desire to bring healing to people, using the resources already available on the continent.

“I am passionate about the potential role of food in medicine”

Oratile Mashazi | mg.co.za
Lisa von Benecke, 29

Lisa von Benecke, 29

Founder and chief executive
LC Dynamics

Lisa von Benecke is the founder and chief executive of LC Dynamics, a clean-tech company that improves green energy access through tech products and data-driven systems. LC Dynamics manufactures and sells smart solar blinds, which are capable of powering everything from your cellphone to your security system. An innovative problem-solver, she is helping the planet while finding ways to help manage South Africa’s electricity woes.

Von Benecke was a national finalist in L’Oréal South Africa’s Brandstorm 2021 innovation competition. In 2019, she was among the 100 delegates that the Royal Academy of Engineering invited to the 4th Global Grand Challenges Summit in London.

Von Benecke is a women and youth advocate through DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha, a youth-led programme working to decrease HIV infection rates in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. She has also done volunteer work with global nonprofit WomEng, which supports women in STEM.

“A large part of life is trying, and sometimes failing, but what’s important is that you take each experience as a lesson that enriches your life a little more.”

Alice Sholto-Douglas | mg.co.za
Louw Hopley, 28

Louw Hopley, 28

Co-founder and chief executive
Root

Louw Hopley, chief executive of Cape Town-based insurance start-up – Root, believes that software has the power to create a better future for us all.

Louw started Root in 2016 with the goal to make it easier for software developers to build products in financial services and has since narrowed in on the insurance industry.

Root’s mission is to break down barriers for innovators in insurance. Root builds the infrastructure that packages the “hard things” behind easy-to-use APIs, creating a new global API standard.

The company provides a complete end-to-end cloud insurance solution, enabling customers to seamlessly launch new products and digital engagement channels through application programme interfaces.

Focus on the critical path.

Carol Chamberlain | mg.co.za
Kholofelo Masha, 32

Kholofelo Masha, 32

Director
Xesha South Africa

Self-trained horologist Kholofelo Masha may have been subconsciously guided to his career by his middle name, Xesha. It means “time” in isiXhosa, and it’s the perfect name for his watch design business. Horology barely exists in Africa, where finely crafted watches are usually imported, and Masha learned the trade by taking timepieces apart with a kitchen knife because he couldn’t afford specialist tools. He then enrolled for online courses with renowned institutions in Switzerland and America.
Now he designs, laser-cuts and assembles watches that proudly reflect African culture, including Bapedi, Swati and Batswana patterns.
He’s moved from a room in Soweto to premises in Midrand, and his website attracts international buyers. He’s been featured in American, Japanese and German media.
He also trains upcoming watchmakers in townships to grow the trade. Masha says he wants to see watchmaking become a viable career choice in South Africa. “I want the world to know that Africans are brilliant at what they do.”

Time is my greatest friend, everything gets better with time.

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Kulani Siweya, 31

Kulani Siweya, 31

Chief economist
Agri SA

Kulani Siweya was astonished when he, as a young black man, became one of the leading voices in agriculture.
“When you consider our historic dispensation and the factors of the sector, being invited to speak to and for the sector has really blown my mind, many times,” he says.

Siweya is the chief economist at Agri SA, the country’s biggest federation of agricultural organisations. Its work includes advocating for better policies around land and the environment, and promoting the development, profitability and sustainability of agriculture.

His proudest moment was being invited to parliament to comment on policy dynamics that impact the sector. “I have always been passionate about policy work, and to make submissions to the lawmakers remains fulfilling,” he says.
“Making a difference to the state of affairs in the country drives me to be at the centre of changing things for the best.”

“The ebbs and flows of life are what makes the rhythm that you need to dance to.”

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Lauren Dallas, 34

Lauren Dallas, 34

Cofounder and chief executive
Future Females

Lauren Dallas’s passion for women’s leadership in entrepreneurship shines through in her mission to help women achieve financial independence through her entrepreneurship platform and school, Future Females. Cofounder and chief executive, Dallas describes Future Females as “a movement that exists to increase the number of and support the success of female entrepreneurs”. Dallas launched Future Females in August 2017 in Cape Town and has since grown the platform from fewer than 600 people to more than 100 000 members with 2 300 graduates. The platform operates in 55 cities around the world with trained ambassadors inspiring and motivating women entrepreneurs through community workshops, events and training programmes. Future Females is partnering with the United Kingdom’s International Tech Hub Network to widen its reach across 26 countries. Dallas wants to expand Future Females’ vision of entrepreneurship support through education, community, inspiration, mentorship and coaching, and funding across the globe.

At this rate, it will be 108 years before we reach gender parity, and I want to see it in my lifetime

Sarah Irwin | mg.co.za
Kenneth Diole, 29

Kenneth Diole, 29

Programme specialist
Growthpoint Properties

Kenneth Diole works for Growthpoint GEMS, which helps the immediate families of qualifying employees to obtain educational grants for their children at all levels of education. The pillars of this programme are academic performance, leadership and personal development.

Learners benefit from several interventions, such as year-long tutoring, 24/7 psychosocial support, leadership development camps and continuous personal development programmes. The intention is to provide them with holistic support to ensure that they become high-achieving and well-rounded young people.

Diole also does policy work for the youth, and is the youngest member of the national council of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

In addition, he writes opinion and commentary pieces on various youth-related matters in Daily Maverick, Business Day and City Press.

“At the core, my work is an intersection of youth development, policy and education, with the aim of empowering young people to be able to meaningfully participate in the economy.”

Nelisiwe Masango | mg.co.za
Ernest Majenge, 29

Ernest Majenge, 29

Founder and director
The Wheelchair Doctor and Manufacturing

Hailing from Germiston, Ernest Mongezi Majenge is the founder of wheelchair manufacturer The Wheelchair Doctor. “I started operating in August 2018 as a wheelchair repair service,” Majenge says. “We’re busy developing an off-road wheelchair that will cater for people in townships, rural areas and on farms.” Majenge’s company produces the Ruby wheelchair, which can neatly climb and descend stairs, making it ideal for urban areas and distinguishing it from its competitors.
The Wheelchair Doctor offers customised and specialised sports wheelchairs. Majenge’s innovative wheelchair has won him several awards, including the South African Breweries Foundation disability empowerment award and Transnet Matlafatso Centre pitching competition in 2021 and 2020, respectively. “My biggest mistake was when I was trying to come up with a product using assumptions instead of facts and the product did not do well in the market,” Majenge says.
His aim is to restore dignity through mobility for wheelchair users.

Start when you are still young and have a lot of energy because business takes time to make money.

Nabeel | mg.co.za
Gugulethu Mahlangu, 29

Gugulethu Mahlangu, 29

Aquaponics horticulturist
Finleaf Farms

Aquaponic horticulturist Gugulethu Mahlangu develops nutritious, chemical-free food with Finleaf Farms, a scalable, biological farming brand. She specialises in lettuce, microgreens and herbs.
Aquaponics is a self-sustaining ecosystem that utilises the natural relationship between fish and plants. Plants clean the water for fish and they give plants nutrients to grow. Mahlangu believes that the harmonious pursuit of farming and trading between South Africa’s different communities is the key to food security.
She will tell you that agriculture is a science-driven career, which one cannot build without education, training and guidance. Agricultural graduates and new entry farmers often lack access to the information, practical training and skills transfer programmes required to succeed in the field.
She believes that South Africa should do more to promote agriculture as a professional career path for young people.
Mahlangu’s five-year plan is to have her own commercial smart farm “run by the beautiful young people of Africa”.

“Your purpose will be made clear to you once you listen to your heart, block the distractions and pursue your true passion. Dreams are valid, so start that garden!”

Carol Chamberlain | mg.co.za
Bulelani Balabala, 35

Bulelani Balabala, 35

Head of township entrepreneur development
Township Entrepreneurs Alliance

“Get things done!” is the motto of Bulelani Balabala, who is passionate about township entrepreneurship as a township entrepreneur himself. This has motivated him to start and run an initiative called the Township Entrepreneurs Alliance (TEA) in 2015, which has directly impacted more than 50 000 township entrepreneurs.
The alliance brings information, skills, mentorship and funding to individuals from previously excluded communities.
Balabala wants to help establish hubs in townships to help shape ideas into viable products. He also wants to have a direct impact on the 1.8-million informal businesses that trade in townships, as well as help them gain access to markets locally and abroad.
He is a professional speaker who covers brand developments, entrepreneurship & transformation.
A defining moment in his journey was when he realised he was providing a better life for his family, staff and community. “I am township!” says Balabala proudly.

You are the greatness you think you are! Keep working, keep grinding and at the right moment doors will open.

Alexander Brand | mg.co.za
Ayanda Majola, 22

Ayanda Majola, 22

Founder and managing director
Yanda Cosmetics

Ayanda Majola is the founder of Yanda Cosmetics, which specialises in chemical-free, vegan and cruelty-free skincare and makeup. Majola, who is a health sciences student at the Vaal University of Technology, uses ethically sourced plant-based ingredients in all of her products. “As someone who has struggled with the fear of failing I’ve come to realise that failure and success coexist,” she says.
Majola’s biggest inspiration is to give her family the best life possible, and this motivates her to succeed. Starting a business without any investors or external funding was challenging, but Majola believes that hard work and determination go a long way. Alex Mall recently recognised her as a trailblazing young business owner in the community, and is now sponsoring Yanda Cosmetics. As a business owner from a disadvantaged township, Majola is proud to show that it is possible to achieve your dreams regardless of age or background.

Embrace failing because every failure is a learning moment.

Laura du Toit | mg.co.za
Alexander Oloo, 32

Alexander Oloo, 32

Head of design
Absa Bank South Africa

Head of design at Absa bank, Alexander Oloo is a young South African to keep tabs on.

UX (user experience) design is a rapidly expanding field that concerns the meeting point of information technology and human psychology.

Fascinated by interaction design and human-centred design principles, Oloo is equally passionate about paying it forward.
Not only does he lead, he also avidly teaches. Much of his job entails mentoring, teaching and encouraging a culture of curiosity.

He heads a team of more than 100 coders and UX designers at Absa, guiding them towards improving the bank’s apps and interfaces, aiming for ease of use, cultural sensitivity and general efficacy. He also assists fledgling start-ups, trouble-shooting problems in their software interfaces and business models.

Oloo volunteers at Sprint, a career-readiness initiative that assists university graduates with the soft skills needed to enter the workplace.

“Read regularly and widely. And be kind to everyone you meet.”

Francesco Nassimbeni | mg.co.za
Alexandria Procter, 29

Alexandria Procter, 29

Co-founder, chief executive and head of product
DigsConnect

While at university, Alexandria Procter realised the scope of the student housing crisis and endeavoured to change things for the better. With the help of her co-founder, Greg Keal, DigsConnect was born.

Launched in 2018, the start-up acquired over R12-million in seed funding to aid its expansion — the largest raised by a female founder in South Africa.

DigsConnect was forced to pivot its business model during lockdown in order to survive. While the process was undoubtedly stressful, Proctor was able to adapt and keep the business afloat through the once-in-a-generation catastrophe.

Proctor passionately believes the power of education can help to alleviate poverty and create a thriving and dynamic citizenry. Through her work with DigsConnect — which is now available in 30 countries and lists over 1.3-million beds — she has shown initiative in tackling one of the most pressing issues faced by students worldwide.

“Accept yourself as you are now. In whatever place you find yourself, realise that you are enough.”

Tshiamo Seape | mg.co.za

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