The Future Innovators

Fatoumata Ba (Board Member, Investor & Entrepreneur, WEF Young Global Leader, Choiseul 100 Africa & Forbes Africa 30 under 30)


Fatoumata BA is a Board Member, Investor & Entrepreneur currently the Founder & CEO of Janngo, the #1 tech for good platform in Africa.

At Jumia, the #1 African unicorn, she served as Founder & CEO in Ivory Coast, Managing Director in Nigeria and Member of the Executive committee at Africa level, driving the performance of 130+ operations across Africa, spanning around 10+ verticals in 30+ countries with 3000+ direct jobs, 70000+ indirect jobs and opportunities created for more than 500 000 SMEs across Africa.

She is passionate about leapfrogging development through technology in Africa, in particular when it comes to women's entrepreneurship & empowerment, SMEs growth and formalization as well as tackling health and education issues through medtech and edtech.

Her career and commitment have been rewarded with several distinctions including World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’, Choiseul 100 Africa ‘Economic Leaders of Tomorrow’ and Forbes Africa ‘30 under 30’.

She serves on the Board of SouthBridge Investment Bank, on the Investment Committee of Creadev Africa and on the Council of Women in Africa. 

Listen to Fatoumata's Interview on Soundcloud,  Youtube and Vimeo 

Vinny Lingham (Co-founder & CEO of


Vinny Lingham is a well recognized Internet entrepreneur who is currently the co­founder & CEO of Civic Technologies, Inc ­ a startup company that has a goal to eliminate new account fraud and prevent identity theft by creating an "Identity Network” where consumers can confirm their identity in real­time with participating merchants and vendors. 

He raised $2.75 million in venture funding led by notable investor Social Leverage. Prior to Civic, he was the co­founder and CEO of Gyft ­ a mobile gift card company founded in 2012 and backed by Google Ventures. Gyft quickly become the leading player in the space and was acquired by global payments giant, First Data Corporation in 2014, for over $50m. 

Vinny previously founded & ran, Clicks2Customers and incuBeta. Vinny is also the co­founder of, an NGO based in South Africa that aims to turn Cape Town into a technology hub. 

Vinny is an active technology investor primarily in Silicon Valley. He also partnered with one of his previous co­founders to establish an investment fund in South Africa, called Newtown Partners, where he has led early stage investments into successful and notable startups such as Sweep South, in South Africa. 

Vinny is a Shark on MNET’s Shark Tank reality TV series . He has also appeared as a Dragon on the South African edition of Dragon’s Den, the longest running UK investment reality show (sister show to Shark Tank), a reality television program where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas in order to secure investment finance from a panel of venture capitalists. 

 Listen to Vinny's Interview on Soundcloud,  Youtube and Vimeo  

Ashish Thakkar (Founder, Mara Group & Mara Foundation)


Ashish is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business in 1996 at the age of 15 with a $5,000 loan. Since then, he has driven the growth of the company from a small IT business in Uganda to the globally recognised multi-sector investment group that exists today. 

Through its investments, Mara Group now has a presence across 25 African countries in sectors spanning technology, financial services, infrastructure and real estate. 

Ashish continues to drive the business development and strategy of Mara.

In 2012, Ashish was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in recognition of his success and leadership in driving social and economic change in Africa. 

Ashish advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa.

Ashish is passionate about enabling, empowering and inspiring young male and female entrepreneurs. Consequently, in 2009, he founded the Mara Foundation to foster and support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy.

Ashish is based in Dubai and Kampala, Uganda.

 Listen to Ashish' Interview on Soundcloud,  Youtube and Vimeo  

Zama Khanyile (President of the AWCA, SAICA Top 35 under 35)


Zama Khanyile is a fund manager at the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and in she is charge of the uMnotho Fund that deals with acquisitions, new ventures and expansions. 

A Chartered Accountant who studied at the University of Johannesburg and is registered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accounts, she leads a team of 15 investment professionals, carrying out the mandate to improve access to capital for black-owned entities, and she oversees the NEF’s women empowerment fund that finances businesses that are majority owned and managed by black women. 

She sits on a number of boards including that of  Qumbu Mall and the non-profit organisation African Women Chartered Accountants, of which she is the president.

“My role is to increase the number of black female chartered accountants and to implement initiatives that support them in their journey to qualifying, eventually becoming formidable and ethical leaders,” she says.

Khanyile is committed to making a difference in the lives of young, black upcoming chartered accountants and has focused her efforts on making this happen. She plans to continue her own personal growth as a responsible leader and wants to keep on converting her success into significance.

“My family has always been supportive of me and I have had a few women help me find my feet,” she says. “The women who helped me build my career are Futhi Mtoba, Lesego Sennelo, Philisiwe Mthethwa and Hlengiwe Makhathini. These women opened doors for me.”

When asked what advice she would give to young South Africans looking to pursue their goals, she says: “Opportunity often comes dressed as a challenge. You must be prepared to work and to rise to the occasion when the opportunities come to you.” 

Listen to Zama's Interview on Soundcloud,  Youtube and Vimeo

Sipamandla Manqele (Founder & CEO, Local Village Foods)


Sipamandla Manqele is a 28-year-old entrepreneur breaking fresh ground in the realm of agro-processing with her business, Local Village.  She produces a variety of artisanal and organic foods and has built a compelling value proposition within a niche health market. 

Manqele’s business has been running for three years and has already proven itself a viable and valuable startup, providing employment and community growth.

“I am inspired by our continent, Africa, its diverse cultures and its quest for social and economic unity,” says Manqele. “My startup was founded on a vision to create a network of vibrant and local agri-preneurs across Africa, all supplying equitably sourced and sustainably grown indigenous African ingredients to the global village. My goal is to connect ethical producers with conscious consumers, as this is the key to cultivating a better world.”

Manqele’s immediate plans are to scale up the business and take it to bigger retailers in South Africa and beyond the borders. She wants to play a role in the implementation of free and fair trade across Africa. 

When asked who helped her to bring her dreams to life and focus on her vision for the future, she says: “My husband has been a fervent supporter throughout this journey, and my mother and older sister have shown me how to work hard and choose my own path.”

Manqele advises any young South African looking to build their own story of success to look to who benefits from what they do.

“It is not success if you are the only one benefitting,” she concludes. “Work is a gift we should receive with open arms; there are no shortcuts, and instant gratification should not be something we pursue. We need to focus on rebuilding South Africa — politics is just one part of our society and we should not allow it to dictate how we treat each other and the contribution we make.” 

Listen to Sipamandla's interview on Vimeo, Youtube and Soundcloud

Refilwe Mashale (Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans - 2019 Finalist)


Refilwe Mashale is the group tax manager at multinational conglomerate Reunert Limited. Reunert manages a portfolio of over 40 businesses in the fields of electrical engineering, information and communication technologies and applied electronics. As its group tax manager, Mashale is expected to perform under tight deadlines.

In 2018 Mashale was appointed to establish an international tax practice at Reunert, to meet the needs of the multinational group’s long-term expansion strategy. Her background includes experience within the tax practices of both Big Four accounting firms and Big Five law firms in South Africa.

Mashale is active in the tax community, chairing and speaking at tax conferences and industry platforms, and publishing technical expert contributions locally and internationally.

Mashale’s passion for tax has led her to pursue an Advanced Diploma in International Taxation and she is currently completing her final examination. It is a global qualification issued by the Chartered Institute of Taxation in the United Kingdom. 

The qualification is held by only 1 000 international tax practitioners globally.

Mashale’s academic proficiency and professional skills are further complimented by her business acumen. 

She owns The Balloon Café, a start-up business she was inspired to establish in 2016 after working with venture capitalist firms at Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, where she sought advice in implementing unconventional and creative business strategies to secure tax-efficient investments.

The Balloon Café, which employs four people, is an express helium balloon delivery service supplying various types of helium balloons. The business services a niche consumer market with professional, customised balloon decor installations and photography services.

Mashale is a strong advocate for young professionals to use their skills and expertise to advance South Africa. 

Putting her beliefs into action, she personally mentors several younger women, providing academic and career coaching as well as assistance in resolving issues of historic debt at tertiary level.

 Listen to Refilwe's Interview on Soundcloud,  Youtube and Vimeo  

Terry Mhungu A. J. (Chief Executive Officer at Bahati Brands Ltd)


Terry Mhungu, is the CEO of Bahati Brands, a commodities trading firm based in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The future is natural, healthy & non GMO food, grain and beverages, that the focus of Bahati Commodities. He is a former executive director for Stanlib Asset Management, responsible for Stanlib Wholesale Distribution, Treasury and Group Risk at the holding company. 

All his life, in SA, he was in fund management, mostly in the distribution and product end of the portfolio management game.

He is passionate about long-term investing, health & fitness, and sustainable growth models. He is  a dad to 3 sons, a karateka, and a director of 5 companies. 

His mantra is 'grit, innovation and love will bring the best solutions in all challenges.'

Listen to Terry's Interview on YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud

Ashraf Garda (Founder of the Champion South Africa Movement)


Ashraf Garda is a multiple award winning broadcaster and his strategic position in the media landscape puts him at the very centre of South Africa’s dialogue and debate. 

Ashraf is well known for presenting the Afternoon Talk on SAfm, the Sunday Media Show on SAfm and Special Assignment on SABC 3. 


Ashraf Garda is the chief driver of Champion South Africa , a nation building movement   with the  vision to move South Africa from a mid-table nation to  a Champion Nation that he calls #ChampionSouthAfrica . 

Champion South Africa identifies champions, amplifies  champions and makes champion connections to build more champions , it is a movement that embraces the champion mind as the first significant step to a winning person and a winning nation 

He speaks about the champion mentality  with his keynote talk titled "Champion People Build Champion Nations " - this is ideal for team building events , year end or year beginning events and for companies and organisations that need to be switched in to a champion mindset He is an  accomplished , most engaging Programme Director  and MC  and is also highly skilled as a conference  facilitator and moderator 

 He  has hosted a number of high profile events including :

  • Programme Director at the BRICS Summit  Business  Forum attended by the Presidents of both South Africa and China 
  • Programme Director at the 2019 Productivity SA Awards 
  • MC at Premier David Makhura's Gauteng MidTerm review 
  • MC at the Proudly South African Buy Local Summit -  the then Deputy President Ramaphosa was the keynote speaker 
  • Facilitator at the launch of Prof Madonsela’s Social Justice Project  
  • MC at the National Institute for Humanities & Social Sciences Awards
  • MC at the Hack Jozi awards on behalf of Wits University and the City of Joburg 
  • MC at the Ubuntu Awards the keynote address was delivered by Archbishop Desmond Tutu 
  • MC at the   International Public Relations - IPRA Golden World  Awards  
  • MC at the PR Industry's Oscars - The Prism awards 

Listen to Ashraf's Interview on Youtube, Vimeo and Soundcloud

Philani Potwana (CEO of FNB Easy Segment at FNB South Africa)


At 31, Potwana is the youngest chief executive at FNB; one of the youngest in that sector and he is anything but the traditional corporate suit.

Born in Kwamnyana village near Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape, Potwana is one of three children of a single mother. He and his family moved to Maluti Township near Matatiele where he matriculated from Mariazel High School at just 15 years old.

“The life at Maluti shaped me because, coming from a deep rural  village, I was exposed to fancy cars with Joburg registration plates and that made me want to be a ‘big person’ in Joburg too,” he says.

After matriculating, he headed to the University of KwaZulu-Natal to pursue a degree in information technology. “I matriculated at 15 and wanted to study IT. I had no plan B, it was IT or nothing.

“I went with my mother to a bank to get a loan because although she worked, she fell into the gap market and I didn’t qualify for a government grant or National Student Financial Aid Scheme. We were declined for a loan,” he says, adding that being rejected made him want to work for the bank that did – that bank was FNB.

At university he enrolled for the extended four-year bachelor of commerce degree in information systems. He completed the degree in three years and went on to do his honours.

While he was studying a towards his honours degree, he seized on an opportunity to apply for FNB’s graduate programme and a few interviews later was recruited as a 20-year-old trainee systems analyst.

“Four months after joining the bank I asked myself: Why can’t clients withdraw money without a card? So I came up with an idea. It’s not an eWallet, it’s just the ability to withdraw cashless without your bank card.


“The culture of the bank is that no matter how junior you are, you can walk into the CEO’s office and have a chat and that is exactly what I did,” he says of the idea that eventually earned the bank an innovation award in 2011.

In 2010 Potwana progressed to business analyst and a few more roles later he ended up as head of student and personal loans products, a move that seemed like a conclusion of a chapter in his life.


As chief executive of the segment, which is one of the more competitive ones and in charge of the income bracket of up to R120 000 a year, Potwana is charged with taking care of low-income earners and that, it seems, is exactly where he fits like a hand in a glove.

“I feel like there’s so much we can do for people from a banking perspective where they can trust banks.”

Listen to Philani's Interview on Soundcloud,  Youtube and Vimeo

Xolisa Nqodi (Managing Director, Shesha Tuks)


Xolisa Nqodi is a 32-year-old entrepreneur based in Johannesburg. He is managing director of Shesha Tuks, a mobile advertising and transport company that was founded in 2013. 

The company has a fleet of eco-friendly Tuk-Tuks that transport people across the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. It’s a sassy solution to the public transport problem, but the sass doesn’t end there. The Tuk-Tuks also provide customers with mobile advertising and branding opportunities. Since the company started, it has grown to a fleet of 53 Tuk-Tuks as well as 57 staff and Nqodi plans to grow his company in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban in the near future. 

“I am inspired by the talent we have in our country and the optimism we have, irrespective of race, colour or creed,” he says.

“Our dreadful past is, in itself, an inspiration that teaches us and future generations that never again shall we be limited by our own ignorance but understand the true value of our collective existence.” 

Nqodi feels that he learns about people and business every day, using this inspiration to drive him even further in his business and his goals. His plans are to diversify his existing business model and to expand into other areas outside of Gauteng allowing for the company to continue its impressive growth trajectory.

“I have drawn inspiration from various people in my journey but the one person who stands the tallest is my best friend and older sister,” says Nqodi. “She has always believed in my potential and shown relentless faith in me. Her enthusiasm about life in general has always been an inspiration to me and, to this day, she continues to be a beacon of positivity.”

When asked what advice he would give to other young South Africans entering the city in search of their dreams, Nqobi says: “Walk your own journey, pick your fights wisely and believe in yourself a lot. Be prepared to fail and learn, always be willing to listen, and really just don’t give up.”

Nqodi’s bright vision for his future isn’t dimming as the young entrepreneur takes his company to new and impressive heights. He remains firm in the belief that South Africans should always inspire and learn from one another as that way lies a successful future. 

Tebogo Mokwena (Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Akiba Digital)


Skilled software engineer and entrepreneur Tebogo Mokwena (25) has taken part in some significant moments throughout her dynamic career. 

She was part of the team that built the first digital bank in Southeast Asia; she has cofounded a financial technology company, Akiba Digital; and she completed a triple major in biochemistry, computer science and genetics at the University of Cape Town and the University of California, simultaneously. 

Furthermore, she is the owner of digital consulting firm, Bold, and a fellow at the Peace Revolution African Fellowship.

“My role today as an African female entrepreneur with software engineering expertise is to make use of technology to create experiences that fundamentally make the lives of Africans better,” she says. “I hope my contribution to Africa will empower women and others so that they push the boundaries of what is deemed possible.”

Mokwena’s plans for the future are as bold and bright as she is. Her plan is to spin up highly innovative technology start-ups led by women, start-ups that solve social challenges in new ways. 

She wants to create an innovation consortium that brings together African innovators across different industries and sectors to engineer world class products.

“I want to solve specific social problems such as health, education, security and finance for Africans,” she says. “We need more young women in technology, creating and building new things and pushing boundaries. The software engineering space is highly dominated by men and for this to change, we need to be at the table. We need to participate and cocreate the narrative.”

For women looking to change their lives as they move forward, Mokwena says: “Start learning how to code now. This is how you will learn to think of solutions. The beauty of technology is that it is created and shaped into anything by creativity and that is something we all have.”

Refiloe Rantekoa (Founder, Borotho Bakery)


Refiloe Rantekoa is a young entrepreneur from Soweto who operates Borotho Bakery, known for selling bread at very affordable prices for the community. 

The business began in the back room of his grandfather’s house, where Refiloe would bake and sell a meagre twenty loaves a day at first. Now, Borotho Bakery sells around 500 loaves of bread every single day, still at an affordable price, while also having created employment for five additional people. 

This growth was explosive, to say the least, and Rantekoa had to exhibit considerable ingenuity when meeting this demand, even using shopping carts as a delivery mechanism to keep their clients satisfied. 

The story of Rantekoa and Borotho Bakery spread quickly and soon enough Thomson’s Reuters, an international news agency, came to document this small yet smart business operating in the heart of Soweto.

His story clearly points to the source of his business acumen. “I was raised by my grandmother, she taught me how to sell when I was just 8 years old. I had to sell fat cakes every morning before I went to school and maize at the bus stop every day after school… Therefore the confidence and the spirit of what I do had been instilled in me from a very young age.”

Given his background, the success of Borotho Bakery is a testament to the strength of Rantekoa’s character. Having weathered such harsh circumstances growing up, he’s giving back to his community through the Borotho Foundation, which will provide clothes, stationery, and other necessities to underprivileged children. 

Refiloe exhibits the qualities of a great entrepreneur, having been chosen by the Township Entrepreneur Awards as the Best Start-Up Business of 2018 as well as personally being awarded young entrepreneur of the year, as well as a life-changing philanthropic force in his community. 

Driven by his vision of creating a business that will inspire others to follow his footsteps, he’s a role model to young South Africans everywhere, regardless of their circumstances.

As he says himself, “The hunger to make, to build, and to inspire is something that will remain long after our time has passed.”

Amrote Abdella (Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika)

Amrote Abdella, Dr Nik Eberl

Amrote Abdella is the Regional Director for Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative, a multi-year commitment by Microsoft to actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness. 

At Microsoft, Amrote focuses on enabling Microsoft's investment to drive Africa’s businesses, youths and governments adoption of technology to innovate and remain competitive. 

She also serves as a judge and advisor in several Pan Africa innovation engagements. Prior to Microsoft, Amrote worked with the World Economic Forum, World Bank, the Global Hunger project and the Grameen Foundation focusing on financial access, policy guidance and economic development. 

Amrote is a firm believer in the promise of Africa, its inclusive development and that of its people, and passionate to mentor youth in leadership and technology careers. 

She holds a Masters in International Economic Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and a BA from Davidson College, North Carolina, USA.

Hendrik Halbe (Founder VenturesPlus & Get in the Ring)


Founder Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (leading expert centre)

Partner HK Group

Founder Get in the Ring (global matchmaking in 100+ countries), award winning concept

Developed Rotterdam Science Tower Incubator

Developed innovation ecosystem in Rotterdam (20 million+ budget)

Academic background in entrepreneurship & innovation

Bony Dashaco (Group President at ACMAR GROUP West & Central Africa)


Bony Dashaco is a Cameroonian businessman, who is the chairman of African Center for Marketing, Advertising and Research (ACMAR) media group, which has a presence in 22 African countries with 1000 direct jobs.

In 2014, he was nominated as an “African leader of tomorrow” by Institut Choiseul for International Politics and Geoeconomics as a person below the age of 40 who has impacted society. 

In October 2016, he was listed 36 on the list of top 100 African managers below the age of 40 years old by Institut Choiseul for International Politics and Geoeconomics.

Dashaco is the president of Médiafrique, an affiliate of ACMAR International. Dashaco was nominated 2016 Ranking of 50 Most Influential Young Cameroonians by the Center for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Business Management Development (CELBMD) Africa. 

In 2016, he was interviewed by France News Network Africa 24 with special focus in Africa to highlight the development of Media in Africa, problems and their solutions.

In March 2016, US embassy in Cameroon visited Acmar group in Douala and had an interview with group president based on US foreign policy in Cameroon. In his career, he was recently named one of Institut Choiseul for International Politics and Geoeconomics 100 Africa’s list of future economic leaders.

Gugu Nkabinde (Founder, Gugu Intimates)


Gugu Nkabinde has launched Africa’s first skin-coloured underwear range, Gugu Intimates, driven by the insight that representation in key categories such as underwear is vital. 

In the year since its launch, Gugu Intimates has disrupted the undergarments industry as a result of Nkabinde’s understanding of how carefully thought-out clothing can support and expand women’s confidence.

As a brand strategist, Nkabinde identified an important insight: in South Africa and Africa at large, the idea of “skin colour” or “nude” is often an inaccuracy — those terms have tended to describe pale, peachy tones in the undergarment section. 

This left women of colour with little in the way of underwear options that didn’t show through sheer or white clothing and ruin its effect. Describing herself as “obsessed with insights that drive businesses, industries and brands,”  Nkabinde decided to create the solution in the form of Africa’s first truly skin-coloured underwear range.

She drew on her experience in the makeup industry, and thought about the process of blending and matching makeup to specific skin tones, and asked herself: “If I can match my makeup, why can’t I match my underwear?” 

Once she’d posed this question on behalf of the Black women who would become her customers, it was time to identify the tones that would be most useful to the market, and find the production partners who could bring her vision to life to the standard she had in mind.

Among Nkabinde’s accolades is the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair Elle Decoration Award for Best Product that she received in 2018, but it’s safe to say that it’s her customers’ reception of her product that is the best testament to its value. 

The initial Gugu Intimates range of five nude shades is already distributed in four outlets in South Africa, one in Zimbabwe, and another in Brooklyn, New York — with more in the pipeline.

While her product is often imitated, and she recognises that this could indeed be the start of a positive trend of inclusivity if well-executed; there’s little competition in terms of a brand that offers a similarly empowering narrative to its customers along with such a well-made product. 

“The product had to be created by someone who cared enough,” she says of her entrepreneurial journey so far, and it’s this genuine empathy that has proved even more valuable than her business insights.

Phakamile Hlazo (Founder & Managing Director, Zulu Nomad)


‘We’re disrupting the market in every way we can,” says Phakamile Hlazo of her role as a tech-enabled entrepreneur in the tourism industry. 

Through her company Zulu Nomad she seeks to inspire and inform others about the opportunities for travel in Africa and beyond.

At 21, Hlazo was awarded a Rotary International Scholarship and became a South African ambassador to the United Kingdom. She represented South Africa proudly, and upon her return  realised that the international travel bug had bitten, then made her way to work and live in China for three years. 

During this time she established an Instagram account to share her experiences and was quickly overwhelmed with requests for travel tips — a trend that continued as she met friends from around the world and travelled to all corners of the globe to visit them.

It was from this hunger for travel knowledge that Hlazo’s business grew: not only did she enjoy sharing her experiences, but also found fulfilment in reassuring fellow travellers about their options and how to share in the “insider” experiences that she’d discovered. 

To allow for further growth of this skill, she founded her tourism startup that offers curated travel experiences in Southern Africa. She noticed that those asking for advice were often only aware of higher-end travel options, so she’s devoted particular attention to ensuring that backpacking and other more affordable adventures are highlighted. 

“It’s about deciding how we want to travel,” she explains. “I try to find really unique experiences.” Zulu Nomad employs a small team of full-time staff in South Africa and Mozambique and works with Black-owned small businesses in the tourism sector. 

The company has been particularly impactful in the lives of a small community in Tofo, Mozambique: by bringing tourists to the region a regular basis, the business has created a sustainable year-round income for its residents. 

Skillful use of social media have won the destination much attention online, leading to the creation of jobs both in South Africa and Mozambique. Hlazo’s vision includes implementing similar measures in more of the countries that she and her company visit, spreading the word about the possibilities of travel, and spearheading initiatives such as The Africa Travel Hackathon to bring the potential of tech in tourism to life. 

Amanda Potelwa (Managing Director, Pan-African Unleashed Consultancy)


Amanda Potelwa runs a boutique consulting agency that primarily focuses on agriculture, which is one of her major passions. She believes that this sector is crucial to unlocking the continent’s potential.

“Agriculture is a tangible way of empowering people. You can sell one cow and pay for your child’s school registration fees,” Potelwa says.

This brings her to another area of focus: education and its connection to agriculture. Potelwa was born in the Transkei, a former Bantustan under apartheid, and she learned that the ticket out of poverty is a good education.

Potelwa began her career at Investec’s private banking division and counts a leadership fellowship at consulting firm McKinsey between 2014 and 2016 among her accolades. This opportunity exposed her to projects in numerous sectors, including agriculture, banking and healthcare.

In November 2016, Potelwa was able to use her passion for agriculture in her day job when she joined Nigeria’s largest maize-producing company, Babban Gona. She was initially a senior associate, but was soon promoted to head of corporate finance. 

She led a $20-million debt-fundraising initiative to support Babban Gona’s 18 000 smallholder farmers during the 2017 season, and initiated a $40-million fundraising project to support the 40 000 smallholder farmers targeted for the 2018 season.

“Our farmers went from being impoverished and unseen individuals to being recognised as esteemed and accomplished members of their communities,” Potelwa says. “They were now able to use the proceeds from the Babban Gona programme […] to buy motorbikes, cars, houses, travel, afford healthcare and, most importantly, to take their children to school.”

Potelwa decided to move back to South Africa and establish a consulting firm using the knowledge and skills she had acquired during her stint in Nigeria. In 2018 she founded the Pan-African Unleashed Consultancy, which is still in the early phases of growing as a business.

“The goal is for the business to focus on […] financing (through establishing an agriculture-focused venture capital fund), agro-processing and [offering] an insights and advisory division to provide best-in-class advice, underpinned by rigorous insights drawn by our team,” Potelwa says.

Startuo Investors & Mentors

Alan Gross (Co-founder of Chef Works and Global Startup Investor)


Alan Gross has only had one job throughout his life, and as an entrepreneur has spent the past 40 years helping to build a very successful now worldwide family business who’s products are  sold on 6 continents, in 80 countries ,34 franchises and now manufacture’s it products in 10 countries.

"Chef Works” brand which he founded in the USA in 1993, has become the largest and most recognised professional hospitality clothing brand in the world, supplying restaurants,hotels,food service ,chefs,bar and wait staff. 

In 2015, Chef Works  opened its first sales office in Shanghai China and last year an office in Tokyo Japan. 

It has contracts which include major Casinos in both Las Vegas and Macau, the largest food service groups such Sodexo, Compass and supplies corporations such as  Marriotts, Disney to name a few. 

His dream is to open a 1000 franchise/licensing "Chef Works" stores in China and India.  It  supplies and continue’s to network and work with some of the top celebrity Chefs in the world and two years ago successfully signed its first  Licensing deal with the largest Garment Laundry Group in the World. 

He is now based in London working at Chef Works International strategic matters, continually traveling   the world, working at opening markets, sourcing production and trading its products and services. He  has also funded  2 start up medical businesses and he is currently invested in a number of start up Tech App's and he mentors a few exciting young entrepreneurs. 

Listen to Alan's Interview on Vimeo, Soundcloud and Youtube

Dr Doug Mattheus (Executive Head: Strategic Consulting at Cell C )


For the past 6 years, I have been the Executive Head of Marketing at Cell C, one of South Africa’s Cellular Network Operators. 

Here I headed up the markeCng function and, along with my team, controlled one of the biggest marketing budgets in South Africa and have increased Cell C’s brand value to be the 16th most valuable brand in SA with a value of $986 million (BrandZ, 2018). 

The brand equity and enterprise value also increased with Cell C being SA’s fastest-growing brand in 2018 with

a 48% year-on-year growth (Brand Finance, 2018), the Cell C Sharks winning the Currie Cup, and all digital plaTorms showing appreciable growth and engagement. 

My team and I have also grown the

subscriber base to over 16 million subscribers in the last few years and have won numerous International and local marketing awards over that same period.

I am also an independent Business Consultant and part-time lecturer / facilitator at USB-Ed, with an

interest in Marketing, Leadership, Culture, Strategy and Organisational Performance.

As the former Marketing Executive at Ster-Kinekor, South Africa’s leading motion picture exhibitor, I was responsible for the entire marketing function. There a cross functional team interacted with all of the Hollywood studios in releasing and promoting over 300 movie titles per year.

Prior to that, I served for 9 years as the Marketing Director of Nashua Mobile, a South African cellular service provider, where I headed up the marketing and was intrinsically involved in the company’s strategy. 

Nashua Mobile was focused on contract and pre-paid cellular, call routing and broadband data. I was part of the Nashua Group for a total of 17 years (8 years at Nashua Limited).

Before that, I worked at Radiospoor, that specialised in radio paging, and my career started at Firestone tyres in 1989. Through these different companies I have gained experience in Markting, Sales, Strategy, HR and

Training, as well as General Management.

Academically, I have a B Comm. (major in Business and Industrial Psychology) and B Comm. Honours (major in Business) from the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University), a MBA from Wits Business School (with a thesis on sport sponsorship), and a DBA from the University of Phoenix in Arizona, USA (with a dissertation on organisational culture).

I have served on the academic advisory boards at Tshwane University of Technology and Nelson Mandela University, where I also give regular guest lectures. I am a Chartered Marketer with the Marketing Association of South Africa.

I have presented at various conferences on a variety of business topics; the most common being

marketing, sponsorship, organisational culture, customer service, general business and strategy.

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