The 2021 20 Young African Entrepreneurs of the Year list celebrates 20 outstanding young African entrepreneurs who have challenged the status quo, excelled in their entrepreneurial journey, have made a huge impact in 2020/2021 and are role models to other young aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa.
20 Young African Entrepreneurs of the Year, initiative of Young Global Leaders Network, organizers of Young African Leaders Summit 2021, is an international youth leadership development organization with active presence in Africa.
The Young Global Leaders Network is a youth leadership development organization, a registered and active organization in the UK, Ghana, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya and operates in nine (9) other African countries.
Young Global Leaders Network is a registered company in the United Kingdom with registration number 13377961, Ghana (Registration number CG072582020), registered as an NGO in South Sudan (REG. NO 3765) and Sierra Leone with Registration number WC0007557/170.
This is a network of young social and business entrepreneurs, young politicians, young diplomats, young business leaders, innovators, educators, policy makers, young professionals, future leaders and talented young men and women changing the world with their talents.
The network seeks to be the world’s leading organization that trains, mentors, and prepares young leaders for diplomacy, politics, business leadership and entrepreneurship.
The committee responsible for this initiative set for themselves criteria and received nominations from members and management of the organization as well as the public. Nominees were scrutinized and the below list made it to the final 20.
20 YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS OF THE YEAR 2021
Munyaradzi Gwatidzo (Zimbabwe)
Astro Mobile Africa Chief Executive Officer.
As an orphan growing up in one of Zimbabwe’s poorest suburbs, Gwatidzo was very interested in electronics and would collect broken and discarded phones out of the litter. With three siblings to care for, Gwatidzo taught himself to repair phones. At 19 he sold his first one – a Nokia 3310. After buying, repairing and selling mobile phones in neighbouring Zambia for a few years, Gwatidzo then seized the opportunity in 2011 to build his own brand, Astro Mobile. Today Astro is a large e-commerce company and a mobile and electronic solutions provider with branches in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania South Africa.
Bernice Dapaah is a Ghanaian entrepreneur who is the founder and chief executive officer of the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative in Kumasi. This Initiative addresses environmental degradation through the production of bicycles using environmentally friendly resources such as bamboo. She and her company, Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative have won several awards. In 2016 and 2017 she was listed as one of WomanRising’s 100 Most Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs in Ghana. Dapaah sits on the advisory board of the World Intellectual Property Organisation Green (WIPO Green) in Switzerland and is the founding curator of the Kumasi Hub of the Global Shapers. In addition, she is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity and Natural Capital.
Bernice Dapaah is a young, award-winning entrepreneur known globally to be the founder and CEO of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative. She is now an Alumni of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders and Harvard Executive Business Education. She has championed the development of the bamboo industry in Ghana and made notable contributions to eco-cycling to build sustainable cities. She has been crowned as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD).
Bernice Dapaah is a Ghanaian entrepreneur who is the founder and chief executive officer of the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative in Kumasi. This Initiative addresses environmental degradation through the production of bicycles using environmentally friendly resources such as bamboo. She and her company, Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative have won several awards. In 2016 and 2017 she was listed as one of WomanRising’s 100 Most Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs in Ghana. Dapaah sits on the advisory board of the World Intellectual Property Organisation Green (WIPO Green) in Switzerland and is the founding curator of the Kumasi Hub of the Global Shapers. In addition, she is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity and Natural Capital
Bernice Dapaah (Ghana)
Odunayo Eweniyi (Nigeria)
Odunayo Eweniyi is the Co-founder and COO of PiggyVest. She previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of the largest job sites in Africa with the largest database of pre screened candidates. She has 5 years of experience in Business Analysis and Operations and is a graduate (first class) of Computer Engineering, Covenant University, Nigeria.
She was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Technology in 2019 and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators 2019. She sits on the advisory board of TrainFuture, an Education Technology company based in Switzerland, as well as the Gender Lens Acceleration Best Practices Initiative, a collaborative effort of Village Capital, US and the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi). In 2019, she was named SME Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa by The Asian Banker’s Wealth and Society and she is the youngest Nigerian on Forbes Africa list of 20 New Wealth Creators in Africa 2019. She is one of Business Day’s Spark 2019 Women to Watch and made the World Women in Fintech Power List for 2017; the YNaija Most Influential People in Technology 2017 and 2018; she is a 2018 Westerwelle Young Entrepreneurs fellow, and she is a recipient of The Future Africa Awards Prize in Technology 2018. In honour of her work, she was named one of 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria 2019 by Leading Ladies Africa, one of the 50 most visible women in Tech by Tech Cabal in 2019. She works to support the inclusion of women in technology by working with hubs and female-focused networks, including For Creative Girls, GreenHouse Labs, She Leads Africa, Itanna. She is also the co-founder of the women’s community, Wine and Whine Nigeria.
She is the co-founder & Chief Operations Officer, PiggyVest, the largest digital and investment platform in Nigeria. She previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of the largest job sites in Africa with the largest database of pre-screened candidates. She has 7 years of experience in Business Analysis and Operations. She’s an award-winning fintech entrepreneur who is working for diversity equity and inclusion in fintech and technology as a whole.
As the COO of Piggyvest, she oversees the company’s entire operation which cuts across Finance, Investment Management, People Operations, Investor relations, Fundraising and related subcategories. In January 2021, Odunayo co-founded First Check Africa, a female-led angel fund that invests ridiculously early” in women in African tech to make it easier for them to raise venture-backed capital and invest in technology startups. She is a board member at Village Capital, the most active supporter of impact-driven, seed-stage entrepreneurs in the world. She was featured on Bloomberg Business Weekly’s 2020, Bloomberg 50 list, an annual list of innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who have changed the global business landscape over the past year. She is also a 2021 TIME100 Next honoree. She was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Technology in 2019 and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators 2019.
In 2020, She cofounded The Feminist Coalition, a group of young Nigerian feminists who work to promote equality for women in Nigerian society, with a core focus on education, financial freedom and representation in public office. She also sits on the advisory board of TrainFuture, an Education Technology company based in Switzerland, as well as the Gender Lens Acceleration Best Practices Initiative, a collaborative effort of Village Capital, US and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi).
Jeph Acheampong is the co-founder of Blossom Academy, where he drives the business strategy of the company. Being at the forefront of innovation and talent development, Blossom Academy is working to close the Africa tech skills gap through data science boot camps and dedicated careers support.
Prior to co-founding Blossom, Jeph was a founding member of Esusu Financial, a leading financial technology company providing data solutions for low-to-middle income consumers. As a Princeton in Africa fellow, he helped high-growth startups across Kenya gather live customer insights from mobile survey conversations. He also worked on Wall Street, where he helped multinationals use their data to achieve a competitive advantage.
Jeph holds an Economics degree from New York University. He is an Expo Live Global Innovator, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and was named a Future of Ghana Pioneer.
Jeph Boatey Acheampong (Ghana)
Emeka Ajene (Nigeria)
Emerging Markets Consumer Internet, Digital Media, and Social Impact (Sub-Saharan Africa) | Co-Founder, Gozem
Olugbenga Agboola is a Nigerian software engineer and entrepreneur. He is the CEO and co-founder of Flutterwave
Flutterwave recently attained unicorn status after the payment services fintech received $170 million in its Series C funding. The injection of funds pushed the fintech’s valuation past a billion dollars, making it the third African unicorn in fintech.
Interestingly, this funding series comes about a year after the Series B funding of about $35 million in January 2020. The co-founder and current CEO of the payments company, Olugbenga Agboola, recorded both achievements under his leadership as Chief Executive Officer.
Olugbenga Agboola (Nigeria)
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (Nigeria)
Iyinoluwa Samuel Aboyeji (born March 28, 1991) is a Nigerian entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of Andela and was the former managing director of Flutterwave. Aboyeji was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2019
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji co-founded two successful startups in Africa before launching Flutterwave in 2017. With $15.7 million in funding, the payments company is empowering Pan-African merchants to execute business on a global scale, processing $1.2 billion in transactions so far. Aboyeji’s previous startup Andela, gained attention when the venture received $24 million in funding from Mark Zuckerberg.
Building Africa’s Insect based agriculture sector. #insectfarmer #biotech #womenentrepreneur
Rose Oduro Serwaa is a budding social entrepreneur and the founder of West African Feeds. – a Ghanaian based insect-based feed production firm. In 2017, she started her own social enterprise called the Black Paradigm Foundation, a local non-profit, geared towards promoting early childhood education, financial literacy and self-development. In 2018, she founded West African Feeds, a startup focusing on recycling organic waste into agri-feeds for small scale poultry and fish farmers.
West African Feeds specializes in the production of a low-cost, high-protein feed base made from insects, which serve as an affordable yet equally nutritious alternative to fish-meal used in typical protein base poultry/fish feeds. At West African Feeds, we grow, harvest, and process black soldier fly (BSF) larvae into protein cakes, targeting small-scale seafood and poultry farmers. By implementing the principles of the circular economy, we recycle food waste from restaurants, breweries, and market centres into organic material for BSF larvae production. The BSF larvae are then harvested and sold to feed millers as a low-cost, sustainable, high-quality protein alternative to environmentally unsustainable fishmeal. BSF excrement is also packaged into briquettes, as a sustainable alternative to wood fuel and is also packaged as organic fertilizer for small-scale horticulturists and farming collectives. With the current analysis of the fish industry trends, we believe a combination of eco-friendly, low-cost and innovative models of animal feed production is necessary to reduce the cost barriers as well as further support the growth of Ghana’s aquaculture and poultry industry. Our mission is to scale up the poultry and aquaculture feed sectors in Ghana to introduce regenerative, cost-friendly and environmentally sustainable models of organic feed production.
Rose Oduro (Ghana)
Barclay Paul Okari (Kenya)
Barclay Paul is a serial entrepreneur from Kenya who is constantly coming up with ideas and acting on them as he sees fit. Coming from a community ravaged by war and election violence, Paul has seen a multitude of issues that need resolving in his community, but the one that he is focused on currently is sanitary towels for women.
This venture is called Safi Pads and is aimed at providing inexpensive, reusable, washable sanitary towels for women. He saw that the prices on these towels were simply too expensive for families strapped for cash resources so he and his team developed a product that could help thousands of women, while still turning a profit. His reusable sanitary towels save a large percentage of families’ budgets and make the lives of many customers more enjoyable in the process.
Shortly after the Prize, Barclay Paul received $18,000 in additional funding from Higher Circle Silicon Valley, as well as a trip to Palo Alto, California.
Fatoumata Ba is a Tech Entrepreneur and a VC Investor, Founder and Executive Chair of Janngo and Managing Partner of Janngo Capital. Janngo builds, grows and invests in pan-African ‘tech for good’ champions with proven business models and inclusive social impact.
Fatoumata Ba (Senegal)
Anthony Dzamefe (Ghana)
Anthony Dzamefe, the founder of TimepieceGH and Caveman Watches, went from hawking replica watches on the streets of Accra to building his own brand of timepieces.
After experiencing life in the corporate sector for some time, Anthony identified that he needed more freedom to test his creativity and abilities, so he resigned to embark on his entrepreneurial journey.
He identified his passion for wristwatches after a lot of trials and struggles. He sold watches on the streets of Ghana before he finally realized he could also make a brand of his own.
He started From being a human signage at the airport for a hotel. Resigned and started hawking wristwatches. Ventured into building my own global standard wristwatch brand, Caveman Watches.
Charles Lipenga (Malawi)
An Award-winning Architect, Social entrepreneur and Professional coach. Named among top social entrepreneurs by the British based foundation, The Collective Foundation and listed among top Global talents by the Danish UNLEASH Innovation Lab. He became The Commonwealth Youth Ambassador for Africa & Europe in 2017 for his excellence in developmental work towards achieving the sustainable development goals set by The UN.
Charles is the Founder and CEO of The United Nations awarded Maestros Leadership Team that is commissioned in developing and equipping young people into leaders with purpose, motivated by service to humanity and driven by sustainable results to achieve an Africa that is politically, socially and economically successful.
CEO, Healthlane (YC W20)
Alain Nteff, the co-founder of Gifted Mom in 2014, studied computer science at the Ecole Polytechnique in Yaoundé (University of Yaoundé I). In 2014, he won the Mastercard Foundation Premier Social Entrepreneur Award, and also received the Anzisha Grand Prize (USD 25,000). This prize is awarded every year to 12 young African entrepreneurs who are offered a one-week workshop on the African Leadership Academy (ALA) campus in South Africa. In 2015, he was the youngest participant at the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Global Shaper and was subsequently invited to London by Queen Elizabeth among 60 young entrepreneurs from the Commonwealth. He received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. In 2017, he won a prize in the Health category of the Digital Africa competition launched by AFD.
Alain Nteff (Cameroon)
Danny Manu (Ghana)
Ghanaian Innovator, Danny Manu has developed wireless earbuds, that can auto-translate over 40 languages.
Danny Manu is a British-Ghanaian engineer and tech entrepreneur who built the world’s first auto-translator earbuds.
Danny studied at Oxford Brookes University and describes his mission in life as striving to improve lives.
He was recently recognised by Google for his contributions to science, arts and culture.
Saran Kaba Jones is a clean water advocate and social entrepreneur from Liberia. She is the founder of FACE Africa, an organization working to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and services in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Industry: Health/Business Leadership
Saran Kaba Jones is passionate about improving the living conditions of the local communities ravaged by war in the Sub Saharan region. Through her U.S.-based non-profit organization, FACE AFRICA, Saran has a project to supply clean water to remote communities in Liberia.
The organization aims to construct over 200 wells in local districts, thus improving the community’s health and well-being. The civil war in Liberia left most places dilapidated and wrecked, but Saran is passionate about revamping that.
Saran Kaba Jones (liberia)
Charles Ohene Kwame Frimpong (Ghana)
Ohene Kwame Frimpong is an astute serial entrepreneur with many business lines to his credit.
The young Ghanaian investor owns and runs the SALT Media Group — owners of SALT FM in Agogo in the Ashanti Region, May Day Entertainment and Saltfmonline.com. He also has a real estate business, owns FK Forex Bureau at Spintex in Accra and an African Restaurant in Chicago, USA. He has won many awards including 40 Under 40 Best Entrepreneur In Food & Beverage and the People’s Most Favorite Entrepreneur Award in the 2021 edition.
He is also a recipient of National Communication Awards 2021 Most Promising Entrepreneur.
Ohene Kwame Frimpong is the Executive Chairman of Wealthbridge Limited, the owners of the famous Kub’s Original Bofrot Puff Puff where he is the majority shareholder. Kub’s Original Bofrot Puff Puff also operates a subsidiary in the UK where it produces to meet the needs of consumers in the UK market.
Ohene Kwame Frimpong is also a great philanthropist who takes care of hundreds of students, orphans, aged, and widows each year through the Smart Frimpong Foundation.
Connect with Ohene Kwame Frimpong on
Mark Doumba is an entrepreneur, investor and development economist. He is the founder and CEO of CLIKAFRIK Group, a technology company that builds and provides smart government solutions to digitize business incorporation and improve the ease of doing business in Africa for entrepreneurs. The company is also expanding its mobile payment infrastructure to develop cashless transactions and financial inclusion for individuals and businesses in emerging markets.
Prior to this, Mark co-founded Okoumé Capital; Gabon’s € 30.6 million Sovereign Venture Capital Fund. He started his career in Dubai in investment banking as a financial analyst, and in principal investments in the private office of Mohamed Alabbar.
Mark served as an advisor to the Transitional Committee of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). He has also served on the Global Agenda Council on Responsible Mineral Resources Management at the World Economic Forum.
Mark earned a Bachelor’s degree in finance from George Washington University; an Msc Management from the London School of Economics (LSE), and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School.
Mark Doumba, (Gabon)
Nana Opoku Agyeman-Prempeh (Ghana)
Passionate leader and tech entrepreneur, Aviation Enthusiast, Agricultural Engineer.
Nana Prempeh is co-founder and CEO of Asoriba. With the 520 million African Christian population as the primary target, Asoriba is a web and mobile application that enables effective church administration for leaders, and seamless engagement with members through mobile phones (app & SMS).
Hellen Dausen is the founder of Nuya’s Essence, one of Tanzania’s first home-grown, organic luxury brands and was nominated; Forbes 30 under 30 in 2016. Hellen holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration and Entrepreneurship, which she says she only picked because it was the easiest. Her entrepreneurship is in response to environmental, cultural, and traditional inclinations. She learned much from her mother who crashed through ceilings that excluded women from venturing into business.
Hellen Dausen launched Nuya’s Essence in 2013 in the backyard of her parents’ home with personal savings and an investment from her parents.
Hellen Dausen (Tanzania)
Trushar Khetia (Kenya)
Serial Entrepreneur | EHF Fellow – Cohort 8 | Forbes.com -Africa’s 30 Under 30 2016 & 2015 |Founder- Bloom Wellness, Society Supermarkets & Tria OOH|
Trushar Khetia is a 34-year old Kenyan businessman and entrepreneur. He is the founder and current chairman and CEO of the Tria Group of companies, including a chain of supermarkets known as Society Stores Supermarkets.
Trushar Khetia is one of Kenya’s most outstanding young entrepreneurs. He is a serial entrepreneur is the founder of Tria Group, an outdoor advertising firm that uses public transit vehicles to market-leading consumer goods in Kenya. Tria, which was founded in 2013, places advertising on more than 200 buses in Nairobi for clients such as Unilever, Google, HP, Dell and Konica Minolta. The company has annual revenues exceeding $1.3 million.
Khetia is also the founder of Society Stores, one of the most popular supermarkets in Thika, a thriving industrial town 40 kilometres northeast of Nairobi. The four-storey retail outlet is doing more than $6 million in annual revenues and Khetia is set to open two other stores before the end of this year.
Khetia’s two companies have combined revenues of more than $7 million. I recently had a chat with him where he recounted his entrepreneurial journey, reflected on the lessons he has learned along the way and spoke about his future plans.