IT News Africa takes a look at ten of the continent’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs who are making some serious waves in the technology space – either by reimagining established products or services, expanding radically into new areas, or developing better solutions for Africa.
1. Bankole Cardoso, CEO of EasyTaxi Nigeria
Born in Nigeria, Cardoso attended Boston College in the USA to study Accounting and Business Management, after which he moved to New York City to work as an associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), where he earned a Certified Public Accountant qualification. After a brief period at The Carlyle Group, he moved back to Nigeria as an entrepreneur. Easy Taxi is one of the world’s largest taxi booking apps, and Cardoso was offered the CEO position after he returned from the US. The Nigerian branch recently teamed up with Samsung to offer its services to even more customers across Nigeria. The Easy Taxi app will be pre-installed on all new Samsung Galaxy S5 devices as part of the Galaxy Gift Exchange.
2. Rebecca Enonchong, CEO of AppsTech
Tech entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, a global provider of enterprise application solutions. The Company, established in 1999, is reported to have a client base that includes 50 countries over three continents – Africa, Europe and North America. Enonchong has been selected as one of the 2013 WIE Africa Power Women in the Business and Technology category. AppsTech’s value proposition is the provision of enterprise software, service and support to international clients. Enonchong is also serving as a mentor and advisor to several African-based technology startups and sits on the board of VC4Africa, as well as serving as the director of the award winning Salesforce.com Foundation.
3. Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO of HeHe Limited
Italian think tank LSDP (Lo Spazio della Politica) has listed Clarisse Iribagiza, a young Rwandan tech entrepreneur, among their top 100 global thinkers. LSDP explained that Iribagiza was added to the global list, as “she is one of the faces of a communicative and technological revolution in Africa.” Iribagiza is the founder and chief executive of Rwanda’s Hehe Ltd, a start-up tech firm that majors in software development among other services. According to The New Times, “she was placed 32nd coming behind Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a list that included political leaders, businessmen, scientists, academics, journalists and intellectual leaders selected from across the globe.”
4. Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director of Mara Group
At the tender age of 15, Thakkar started his first company, and 16 years later the self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur has secured a position at the top of the pan-African multi-sector business conglomerate Mara Group. He considers himself a native son of Africa, as he moved back to the Continent with his parents after surviving the historic Rwandan genocide. The Mara Group has operations covering IT, BPO, real estate, asset management, infrastructure, hospitality, packaging, and media, and operates across 19 African countries. Of all the countries that the Mara Group has operations in, Nigeria is Thakkar’s favourite. “Apart from the basic facts, the energy there on the ground is very good, there is a buzz. The first time I went there, as soon as I got out the car I received two pitches from individuals. The government is also looking at transforming things there”.
5. Derrydean Dadzie, CEO of DreamOval Limited
In Africa’s rapidly growing startup business community, differentiation is critical and global exposure an objective. For some, this may take time, for others it has been a quick progression – as is the case for Derrydean Dadzie, co-founder and CEO of DreamOval Limited, a provider of internet and mobile solutions, and developer of payment platforms for the financial and telecommunication sectors. Since inception in 2007, the Company has established a partner network that includes Kenya, Singapore and the US. It has also been said that Dadzie has also captured the attention of global media, with Crunchbase pointing out one international publication’s description of the entrepreneur, in which it was written of him: “… part of Africa’s emerging class of young entrepreneurs who are presenting a serious challenge to Western ideas of African economic development.”
6. Julie Alexander Fourie, founder of iFix
Based in South Africa, Fourie is the CEO of iFix, a company that repairs and services all Apple products and Samsung Smartphones – which over the last couple of years have become one of the biggest third-party repair services in the country. According to Forbes, “Fourie started the company in 2006 from his dorm room at the University of Stellenbosch, helping colleagues and friends repair broken and faulty iPods and computers. Satisfied friends subsequently referred other Apple product owners in search of repairs and Fourie’s business took off.”
7. Chinedu Echeruo, founder of Hopstop.com and Tripology.com
In July 2013 tech giant Apple acquired startup venture HopStop.com, a mobile application that provides an online city transit guide for over 100 metropolitan areas worldwide. The startup was established by Nigerian entrepreneur Chinedu Echeruo, who grew up in Lagos where he attended Kings College. After completing his studies, he moved to the US in 1995 and obtained an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from Syracuse University.
8. Mike Muthiga, founder of Fatboy Animation
As technology takes off in Africa, the continent has also spawned a number of top-notch animation studios. While most of them are based in South Africa, East Africa has their fair share of animators – such as Fatboy Animations. Holding a degree in Civil Engineering, Muthiga is the founder of the animation studio that created works such as Tinga Tinga Tales, and television commercials like ‘Faimba’ and ‘Mazgwembe’. Muthiga has ambitions to open an animation school in Kenya.
9. Uche Pedro, founder of BellaNaija
As the founder of the hugely-popular online website BellaNaija in Nigeria, Pedro was recently named one of the ’30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa in 2014′ by Forbes. According to Creative Economy, “under Uche’s outstanding leadership BellaNaija.com, a lifestyle, entertainment and fashion website in Africa, has established a loyal following, with over 1 million unique visitors and 9 million page views each month.” Pedro holds a Bachelor’s Degree – Honours Business Administration (HBA) – from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in Canada.
10. Tunde Kehinde, Co-founder of Jumia Nigeria
Nigeria’s JUMIA, an online shopping destination in Africa, has over the last couple of years become one of the top e-commerce websites in Nigeria. The company recently expanded to Uganda, offering Jumia’s wide range of products including: fashion, electronics, home appliances, mobile devices and beauty at www.jumia.ug. Since inception, Kehinde served as co-founder of the company, but he recently vacated his position and started A-Post, a delivery logistics company that has already signed delivery deals with various companies.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor