Meet Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 #LadyBosses!

Forbes Africa has released its fifth edition of its 30 under 30 list, honoring some of the continent’s most accomplished young artists, entrepreneurs and tech stars. This year’s list comprises the names of 120 young African game-changers, all under the age of 30, in each of the four sectors – Business, Technology, Creative’s and Sport, an increase from 90 people from the previous year. The list was announced at the annual Forbes Africa Under 30 Meet up that took place at the Houghton Hotel in Johannesburg. Spotlighted below, are female African entrepreneurs who made the list and are making us proud. We call them, Africa’s 30 Under 30 #LadyBosses!

Mariam Manack, 29, South Africa: Founder and Director, iTrain

Durban-born Mariam Manack is a sports scientist, nutritional advisor, fitness and lifestyle coach. While working as a personal trainer in 2011, Manack became passionate about empowering women through health and fitness. Without any gym equipment, she would train clients at home using her voice and her gift. Soon, her clientele grew and knowing it was time to expand, she founded “ iTrain”, a health and fitness studio for women.

Mariam hosts the iTrain run clubs yearly and has partnered with BMW Supertech group for sponsored training kits. This year, she plans to open up a studio in Johannesburg and Cape Town. In 2017, she was recognized by the Minara Chamber Of Commerce as the youngest Muslim woman to receive a finalist award at the Business Recognition Awards and the Minara Entrepreneurship Competition. She is a brand ambassador for Puma and her business worth is estimated to be R1.7 million ($115,000).

Ogechukwu Anugo-Obah, 28, Nigeria:Founder and CEO: BodyLikeMilk

Talk about making lemonades out of lemons! Ogechukwu Anugo-Obah is such an inspiring lady boss. From experiencing abject poverty and dropping out of nursing school due to lack of finances, Anugo-Obah’s has risen to owning a brand that streams income that once felt like a dream.

Unable to afford basic skincare products, Anugo-Obah decided to make her own with her last N1,000 ($3). She packaged it and sold it to her first two clients in a small cup, for N2,500 ($7). In a month, she ended up selling 50 cups of the cream and further expanded her range from just skin care products to facial, hair, makeup and fragrances. With the rise in demand, she soon started delivering her products outside of West Africa, including Dubai, Germany, the UK, Ireland, France and South Africa.

In 2017, she also ran online training classes to teach other women about skincare manufacturing. Anugo-Obah has been nominated for over 10 awards, has received the Promising Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2018 award at The Next Titan Nigeria Top 18 Young Entrepreneurs Awards.

Busi Mkhumbuzi Pooe, 24, South Africa:Co-founder and Chief Executive: Tshimong

An activist in her maiden days, from organizing protest through the streets of Johannesburg with girls wearing miniskirts made of recycled materials, famously sharing the stage with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, former US president Barack Obama, former South African first lady Graça Machel and South African entrepreneur Patrice Motsepe at the 16th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture hosted in Johannesburg, to hosting an inspiring event that saw the likes of businessman Richard Branson, former UN Secretary-Generals Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan among 15,000 others, Pooe is one Ladyboss you definitely look out for!

She is currently the co-founder of Tshimong, a social enterprise providing both the public and the private sector with services such as debating, public-speaking and leadership training programs in line with various social responsibility objectives.

With a passion for youths, together with her co-founder, she has partnered with a number of organizations to empower 3,000 youths in the last two years, with a plan to create an academy and curriculum specializing in debate-training for South African youth. Using her voice as a tool and her entrepreneurship as her journey, she is well on her way to influencing more youth as a global activist.

Shirlene Nafula, 27, Kenya:Founder and CEO: Crystal River Products

Business Daily named her one of the top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya. Scientist by profession, Nafula was recognized by the British High Commission among women leading British and Kenyan businesses in Kenya and across the Commonwealth countries.

At 23, Shirlene Nafula founded Crystal River Products, a manufacturing company for bio-based beauty and hygiene products after mixing products from her parents’ dining room table. Her company grew ten-fold and now she supplies her products to corporates and institutions including the office of the Deputy President of Kenya, William Samoei Ruto. Her products have been sold in Uganda and Tanzania and currently employs 21 people on an incentive model.

Kgahlego Rasebotsa, 29, South Africa:Founder and Director: Interior Bubble

After suffering depression from not being able to secure a job, Rasebotsa ventured into entrepreneurship and started her interior design company three years ago. Kgahlego Rasebotsa is a self-taught interior designer who went from selling scatter cushions in pop-up stores in Polokwane, South Africa, to designing offices for government officials.

Interior Bubble manufactures a range of office and home furniture and specializes in interior décor. Rasebotsa currently employs eight people and plans to open a new furniture store this year to showcase her interior décor and designs. With a mission to become a top furniture supplier to luxury homes in Africa.

Ijeoma Balogun, 29, Nigeria:Founder and Managing Director: RedrickPR

At 19, Ijeoma Balogun became the style editor of Nigeria’s largest entertainment and lifestyle blog Bella Naija and won Fashion Journalist of the Year at the 2011 Fab Awards. With the encouragement of her then boss, Uche Pedro, she decided to venture into public relations and founded her own company, RedrickPR in 2012. Today, her dream has grown from a 1 man team to a 4 man team.

Her company specializes in designing and executing strategic integrated campaigns, to support enterprises and startups to innovate, accelerate and grow.They have worked with numerous clients including Viber, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, the Federal Ministry of Communication & Technology, Jumia Nigeria, MAC Cosmetics and Coca-Cola. One of her biggest achievements was in 2016; Balogun brokered a strategic partnership with Celebrity Services Africa, which offered her company the opportunity to represent local and multinational companies globally.

She also founded Redrick Accelerate Workshops, a platform that has impacted over 150 people, so far, through free workshops and training to improve employability.

 Lesego Mokae, 29, South Africa:Co-founder: Ditsogo Projects

Lesego Mokae runs a 100% black female-owned engineering company that specializes in metal fabrication, plant maintenance and steel products supply. Mokae started the business with her co-founder, Tebogo Mosito, from her garage in Maile, a small area in Rustenburg, South Africa, known for mining.

Her business now services six mines: Impala Platinum, Bushveld Vametco, Electro Hydro World, Pilanesberg Platinum Mine, AngloAmerican Platinum and Royal Bafokeng Platinum and was a national finalist at the Productivity Awards for Most Improved SME in the Emerging Sector category.

Mokae plans to grow the business and have four branches around South Africa in the next three years. She also plans to enrol 30 learners for internship and learnership programs in the business.

Barbara Okereke, 28, NigeriaCake Designer, Founder and Managing Director: Oven Secret Limited

In 2015, Barbara Okeke registered for cake-baking and decorating training at Fair Cake, a premier cake school in London. By September that year, she returned to Nigeria and her business officially kicked off in the southern part of Nigeria in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Her life-like cakes will have the average eye doing a double take. Okereke says she always had a flair for art and craft such as drawing and sketching.

But she never thought her talent would be the cherry on top for her business. Despite being a cake boss, Okereke holds an MBA in Oil and Gas Management which, she says, allowed her to have a versatile and open mind.

She says she plans to offer online training for students who have an interest in cake decorating and also plans to be the most sought-after cake business by 2023.” Her business grew by 91% in revenue from 2016 to 2018. Imagine the growth in the next few years.

 Jessica Anuna, 27, Nigeria:Founder and CEO: Klasha

Jessica Anuna was named by Management Today as one of their 35 Women Under 35 to watch, and the US embassy in London named her as one of its global leaders. She owns an online fashion empire called Klasha. It is a platform for fast fashion retailers serving millennials in Africa.

Featured as one of FORBES WOMAN AFRICA’s New Wealth Creators in March, Anuna founded Klasha in 2017 with an investment of $120,000 from Techstars Dubai, an international startup accelerator, funding and mentorship organization and currently employs a team of six women, all under the age of 27.

Her platform allows fashion buyers to buy items with the South African rand, Nigeria naira, Kenyan shillings, Ghanaian cedi and three international currencies, with a delivery time of one to five days.

Charmaine Mbatha, 29, South Africa:Co-founder: Millennial Business Administrators

Charmaine Mbatha resigned from her job and made a safe transition from employee to entrepreneur. She founded Millennial Business Administrators, a company providing services for startups, organizations and personal brands on virtual assistance, editing and writing, content development, and speaking. It is a magazine that promotes, inspires, educates and celebrates global women of color for their achievements in life and business.

The company later traded as The Grit Media to make way for two publications currently known as Her Grit Magazine and His Grit Magazine. Both publications reach a global audience in over 52 countries, sharing inspiring stories. Mbatha says her goal is to create more small business owners than employees.

Shaney Vijendranath, 28, South Africa:Co-founder and CEO: Vimage Media

When Shanéy Vijendranath became a mother at 20, she found motherhood to be a lonely journey as some of her friends were not parents yet. As a result, she found it difficult to access information on motherhood and baby care and so she went on to start her own platform that answered all the questions she had. She co-founded Vimage Media with her husband, which has two brands under it; You, Baby and I and MomSays.

In 2016, Vijendranath made her first mark in the blogging community when she won the Kids Emporium’s mommy bloggers competition for her platform: You, Baby and I.It was named Africa’s Most Influential Parenting Blog in 2016 by Webfluential and Best Parenting Blog in 2017 at the South African Blog Awards.

The growth in her first blog led her to starting her second, called MomSays, a data analytics platform helping brands engage with new moms using the collective knowledge of over 1,000 experienced mothers in South Africa.

In 2018, Vijendranath was the only entrepreneur chosen from South Africa to represent the country at the Collective Global Accelerator program in London. She plans to introduce e-commerce and AI on MomSays, which could help mothers earn an extra income doing what they love – selling and recommending products and services.

This post was first published on

Share This Post

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Leave a Reply

Read these next

Sign up for the Leading Ladies Africa Newsletter and get the latest info on what you need to thrive in your life, business or career.

What are you interested in?

[yikes-mailchimp form="1"]