After high school Mapule moved back to Alex, joined a dance club, tried to study electrical engineering, applied to the airforce, considered nursing but nothing worked out. Until she signed up for aerobics.
Frustrated at her lack of direction the young school-leaver channelled her exasperation into physical exercise and that made her stand out leading her discovery.
Before her big break, it was Mapule’s mother Mpho Edith Baloyi, whose example saw her through the hard times. As well as her grandmother Ma Busisiwe Jane Madope whose care for all children is visible in her day care centre.
Mapule has become the face of a new, sports-focused training programme called HEAT. It teaches your body to efficiently use its energy sources for maximum athletic output.
These fitness drills zero in on agility, speed, power and stamina - otherwise known as metabolic conditioning.
Endorsed by a major international cosmetics brand, Mapule is a fine advert for beauty through fitness.
Portia believes through extraordinary resilience, determination success is inevitable and she passionate about technology, women in leadership, entrepreneurship .
She holds a national Diploma from Durban University of technology and B tech of business administration from Cape town university of technology including IT and business analysis certificate.
Portia established herself in the ICT industry and co-founded Karisan IT. She has an extensive experience in business analysis as she previously worked for various financial institutions as a business analyst
She has graced the pages of high profile magazines in your country such as Forbes under the age of 30 and Destiny Connect, she was listed as a Young Independent for Business leader and game changer by Mzansi 100.
She won an award as a young leader who is shaping the future of the economy and making strides in the ICT business powered by Huawei and Ndalo Media
She engaged in powerful dialogues as a judge with the consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on How to create inclusive economic growth by empowering female entrepreneurs and increase participation of women in technology, as well as including girls in stem education
She is well connected with industry leaders and has done business with an international consortium of business people who have very high aspirations for Karisani IT . She is a force to be reckoned with and is making a major impact on the lives of South Africans everywhere.
Simidele Adeagbo is paving the way for future generations, focused on empowering women and leveraging sports as a game changer for societal transformation.
As a trailblazing Olympian, visionary business leader and sport and social justice advocate, she harnesses the power of sport as a unifying and transformative force to inspire youth, build communities, and create social change.
Adeagbo blazed an unconventional path of service through sport, making Olympic history at the 2018 Winter Olympics by becoming the first Nigerian Winter Olympian and the first African and Black woman to compete in the sport of Skeleton at the Winter Olympics.
With a strong track record of leadership at one of the world's most recognizable brands (Nike Inc.), Adeagbo aims to unleash the potential of Africa's youth through elevating powerful female athlete stories and breaking the barriers of traditional, societal and cultural norms that limit access to sports for women.
As a sport and social justice advocate, Adeagbo is recognized as a female athlete defying convention and for her involvement in game changing community networks and non-profit organizations that uplift women and youth.
Sphesihle Nxumalo is a Firebrand Pan-Africanist, Liberal Meritocrat and a Progressive Constitutionalist. Without a doubt, many of the projects and activities that he has been and is currently involved in as well as his leadership thought locate him within these labels.
Sphesihle has been a very active young person from his high school days. He participated in many debate and academic competitions. He has received many accolades over the years.
He appeared twice on the then “Matrics Uploaded” show (now called “Geleza Nathi”) which aired on SABC1 – winning the show twice in a row.
Sphesihle graduated high school with 6 distinctions and became one of top 10 outstanding learners in the Gauteng East District – for which he was recognised at the Gauteng East Department of Education awards in 2012.
He was also the top performing learner in his school (Dr Harry Gwala Secondary Schoool in Daveyton), scooping all the academic awards for which he was nominated.
He received a scholarship from the Gauteng City Region Academy in partnership with the Skills Education Training Authority as well as from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) to undertake his LL.B (Law) studies at Wits.
He was also awarded a Peermont Education Trust scholarship to complete his final year of study. He graduated in the top 10% of his LL.B class in 2016 and was awarded the Dean’s List Merit Award.
Before completing his LL.B studies at Wits, Sphesihle interned in multiple law firms in Johannesburg. He was then signed by ENSafrica, Africa’s largest and top-tier law firm to do his articles of clerkship with the firm.
Subsequent to his articles, he was offered an Associate position with the firm. He is also an Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
His work as an Associate Attorney at ENSafrica’s competition/antitrust practice includes advising on the notifiability and compilation of merger transactions to the competition authorities in various jurisdictions including South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and the regional regulatory body COMESA.
Sphesihle’s experience further extends to advising on prohibited practices (i.e. cartel conduct, restrictive vertical practices and abuse of dominance), dawn raids and compliance programmes in relation to South African competition law.
Sphesihle also contributes written articles to local publications including Business Law and Tax Review and is a contributing editor of the Butterworths’ Competition Law Reports.
Over the years, Sphesihle has participated in numerous constitutional, political and social discourses with highly-esteemed panels, including Judges and Parliament Ministers debating issues ranging from political activism, race, gender inequality, to the land issue – issues which he considers to be at the centre of our vociferous constitutional debate.
In his personal capacity, Sphesihle has made significant and extensive literary submissions to different bodies in the country, including the Constitutional Review Committee, pertaining to the expropriation of land without compensation issue.
Moreover, Sphesihle served in several leadership structures (for example, he served as Chairperson of the Students Christian Organisation at Dr Harry Gwala Secondary School, Academic Officer and Deputy Chairperson of the Mpumalanga Students Association, Mentor Coordinator of the Law School Council, Creativity Team Leader at the Christian Action Fellowship, etc.) and was appointed as a Lead Mentor by the Counselling and Careers Development Unit of Wits University as well as a Students’ Legal Counsel, representing students facing disciplinary action before the Wits Students’ Disciplinary Committee chaired by a Professor of Law.
He has provided mentorship to many students who are now professionals making significant strides in their respective fields of work. Furthermore, he was a Tutor at Wits University – tutoring 3rd year law students. He also tutored high school learners in Midrand on weekends as part of an initiative by a non-profit organisation called “IkamvaYouth”, which aims to increase the collective skill level of the population, to grow the national knowledge base, and to replicate success in more communities.
Sphesihle was instrumental in the establishment of Kgololo Academy (which means “to set free”) located in Alexandra, Johannesburg. He was recruited by The Khulula Foundation (a public charity founded in Washington, DC and operating in both the United States and South Africa. Its mission is to develop the next generation of change agents from low-income communities in South Africa by providing them with a transformative, university preparatory education within the community) and became part of the team that conducted surveys and provided administrative assistance in making Kgololo Academy a reality.
Considering his visible social and leadership footprint, Sphesihle was nominated and chosen as one of News24’s top 100 ‘Young Mandelas’ (Young Leader) in South Africa under the “Leadership” category. This recognition aims to honour young leaders who dedicate efforts to make a difference in South Africa through the leadership, creativity, resilience, vision and compassion shown over time and, as such, embody the spirit of Tata Madiba.
As a top 100 ‘Young Mandela’, Sphesihle will be working on a new youth-focused social impact project facilitated by Naspers, which seeks to leverage the power of technology to find solutions to some of the most pressing issues youth face in South Africa.
Sphesihle has recently been selected and chosen, from a pool of 7,000 young people in the whole of Africa, to be part of The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC), a continental development program that promotes youth volunteerism in Africa.
The program aims to deepen the status of young people as key actors in Africa’s development targets and goals, enhancing their participation in policy developments as well as design and implementation of relevant interventions towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want’. It brings people together to share skills, knowledge, creativity and learning to build a more integrated, prosperous and peaceful Continent driven by its citizens. Young African professionals are recruited to serve for a period of 12 months as African Union Volunteers in an African Union Member State other than their own.
Born and raised in Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal, Kerusha holds an LLB from the University of Kwa- Zulu Natal.
She started her career as a legal advisor for Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club and during her time there became legal advisor for the Motsepe Group, which includes the following companies: African Fashion International, African Rainbow Minerals, Motsepe Foundation and Ubuntu-Botho.
Having signed with a modelling agency when she was 16, Kerusha kept modelling and media as a parallel to her legal career. She was a 2016 Miss South Africa finalist and has done work for brands such as Nedbank, Clicks, Shower to Shower, Momemtum and Italian brand Freddy Jeans. Kerusha is still a model with D&A (CPT) and Pace (JHB).
Kerusha decided to leave Sundowns and the Group in June 2017 to start her own Consulting agency, KKG Consulting, where she could focus on Consulting for companies within the labour and commerical space. This also allowed her time to pursue a career in media.
Becoming a television presenter was a natural progression for Kerusha as the entertainment world was always close by because of her modelling career. SABC3's Mela made her a presenter in August 2017. "The best thing about being a presenter is the ability to hero the stories of so many people who may lead seemingly ordinary lives but are doing extra ordinary things."
Kerusha is an advocate for women empowerement and regularly does workshops and motivational speaking in order to help women find their power in the workplace. Her message about breakingthe stereotype of bi-polarizing women, comes from her own experience of not being taken seriously by the business community because of her dual career in media.
She has worked with many foundations and believes strongly in the tangible and sustainable development of children and young adults. Currently, she teaches Chess-Education for an hour on Mondays at Kids Haven in Benoni.
Kerusha was appointed to the South African BRICS Business Council Degregulation Working Group in March 2018 and represented the country at the Mid term meeting in Shanghai in March 2018 as well as the July 2018 Meeting that took place in Durban.
Samukelo Zwane is the Head of Product Development at FNB Wealth and Investment Management Solutions, a division of FNB, which is responsible for providing investment solutions to enable clients to meet their financial goals.
Samukelo has extensive knowledge in investment product development having filled up similar positions in Discovery and Glacier by Sanlam.
Samukelo holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Actuarial Science from the University of Pretoria and he intends to complete his actuarial exams with the UK based Institute and Faculty of Actuaries which will enable him to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuary.
He obtained a Master in Financial Mathematics from the University of Cape Town, his Master’s thesis was titled “Accurate Estimation of Risk When Constructing Efficient Portfolios for the Capital Asset Pricing Model”.
Most recently, Samukelo completed a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree with the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. His MBA thesis was titled “Asset Growth and Cross Sectional Stock Returns on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange”.
He fulfils non-executive directorship roles in Mangethe Group and Uprise Africa. Uprise Africa is an equity crowd-funding platform, a first of its kind in South Africa, it enables entrepreneurs to access equity capital in a cost-effective manner.
Similarly, the platform provides investors with comprehensive information about entrepreneurial ventures, which have a high potential of being successful. Mangethe Group is an investment holding company, which has interests in engineering consulting and construction.
Mangethe Group’s ultimate aim is to be a diversified investment holdings company with interests in various sectors where it makes meaningful contribution.
Samukelo is a member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries(IFA), Association of South African Actuaries (ASSA) and Institute of Directors South Africa(IoDSA).
Samke Mhlongo is Founder and Chief Executive of The Next Chapter (“TNC”) Wealth Partners – a consultancy that draws on various industry experts to provide financial wellness and coaching services to individuals and small businesses.
Through her consultancy, this ex-private banker and SETA accredited trainer has established herself as an international wealth coach whose repeat clients include Anglo American and Standard Bank, and whose presentations have been delivered across South Africa through to Kenya and Cyprus.
Her business accolades include being named MIPAD Top 100 Most Influential Persons of African Descent Class of 2018, Entrepreneur Magazine Top 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs to Watch 2018, and Brand SA “Play Your Part” Ambassador in the field of Entrepreneurship.
Mhlongo also promotes financial literacy as resident finance columnist for BONA magazine; a South African glossy with over 3 million readers; and as presenter of the daily FreshBIZ report on Metro FM, South Africa’s largest commercial radio station with over 4million listeners.
Mhlongo sharpened her finance expertise during her 7-year tenure at Investec Specialist Bank and Asset Manager. She is also the youngest board member of state-owned mineral research technology agency MINTEK and sits on its Audit & Risk Committee.
Mhlongo holds an Accounting degree from the University of Cape Town, Postgraduate Diploma in Management from the Wits Business School, and an MBA from the same college completed with a dissertation titled Factors contributing to over-indebtedness of black South African females.
Koketso is a young person who is passionate about adding value in the lives of young people and have taken leadership seriously from such a young age with various involvements, including the Student Representative Council.
At the age of 15 Koketso won a national letter-writing competition by Post Office which resulted in prize money for my school at the time, which they used to build a school. The school hall has since been named in Koketso's honor (i.e. Koketso Mbewe Centre).
Being such a big fan of the sciences, Koketso is now in pursuit of a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria. Her university experience has truly challenged her to want to be no ordinary graduate and to strive to exhaust my talents, because of the challenges I experienced and managed to overcome; failure being one of them.
Koketso founded Youth Leadership Investment Network (YLIN) in 2016, which is a social enterprise that works with primary school kids throughout to youth in high school and university with the objective of fostering a mental paradigm shift in terms of how young people perceive themselves relative to their circumstances and communities, their attitude towards learning and living responsible lives. Three main pillars are of priority in our programs: Health education, Leadership (of the self and others), and Moral regeneration.
In the same year, Koketso was selected as one of the top ten young social entrepreneurs by Monash South Africa (MSA) in partnership with Youth Action Net and International Laureate Universities through the Leading Entrepreneurship for African Development (i.e. MSA LEAD) Fellowship, making the first cohort of this Fellowship.
Koketso was also honored to be one of the judges for the 2017 cohort of the Fellowship. It has also been a privilege to be selected among only three youth to represent the South Africa at the 2016 Annual Youth Dialogue by the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS). Youth over 45 African countries were convened in Tanzania to engage on issues of elections of governance.
This convening was significant as it asked of us (the youth) to scrutinize our role on pertinent issues on which we have the power to influence. This continues to be a topic of interest as leadership starts with understanding our responsibility and refusing to be sidelined from the decision-making processes of our countries and ultimately of Africa.
In 2017 Koketso was enlisted as one of the 100 Faces of Impact among young people under the age of 25 from various countries across the world, by Impact Squared. In the same year I was on the list of Mzansi’s 100 Top Youth of inspiring and aspiring leaders under the category of Healer, by The Young Independents, a division of The Independent Media Group.
Koketso has also been acknowledged as one of 100 Young Mandelas of the Future for 2018 by News24 under the leadership category, acknowledging the work I do with Youth Leadership Investment Network and other entities with which Koketso has been honored to work. This honor further affords Koketso the opportunity to participate in, and help shape, a new Naspers youth-focused social impact project that leverages the power of technology to find solutions to some of the most pressing issues youth face in our country.
Currently, in addition to managing Youth Leadership Investment Network, I serve as the Chairperson of the executive committee for an NGO called Gap Bridging Associates, whose mission is life-skills facilitation and research, building local and global partners and working also with young people in and out of schools. Koketso co-founded a supply-chain development company, Sulani Investments, 100% female-owned and driven by female empowerment, for which I am the Branding & Marketing director.
Furthermore, Koketso works with the University of Pretoria Business Incubator, as Social Media and Marketing manager but also working as part of an integrated team; the incubator serves to help and support students of the University of Pretoria who are running businesses or have business ideas they want to make practical. Support is given in the form of resources (books, online courses, workshops, training, mentorship, among others).
Previous involvements and supported organizations include volunteering with Pledge a Pad — a society that support girls in schools and homes with sanitary towels through pad-drives and other fund-raising means; workshop facilitation on Presentation Skills for GirlCode for young females in institutions of higher learning and young professionals, in preparation for their 2018 Hackathon (collaborative computer programming competition); Lean in Chapter @ University of Pretoria sharing insights from her experiences on business development through their Women in Business event; Techno Gilr Alumni Program, for which Koketso is still an ambassador, advocate and beneficiary of the primary program, TechnoGirl, which works on empowering and informing girls in high school about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and further affords them job-shadowing experiences with companies in these fields.
Lunga is an advocate and a member of the Johannesburg Bar. He previously served as an in-house counsel at the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre.
His areas of interest include constitutional law, administrative law, class actions, land and housing rights, mining law and customary law.
He has appeared before various High Courts around the country, the Land Claims Court, the Labour Court and the Constitutional Court.
Lunga has also appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education, the Commission of Inquiry into the Traditional Leadership Dispute in respect of the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela Community and is currently one of the evidence leaders in the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance by the South African Revenue Service.
Lunga is dedicated to to using the law to attain social justice and to improve the lives of people from marginalised communities. He has represented people from marginalised communities in public interest and constitutional law cases.
In July 2018 Lunga was recognised by News24, South Africa’s largest news website, as one of its “100 Mandela’s of The Future”. This was in celebration of the life and legacy of the late former President Nelson Mandela.
Lunga is also the co-founder of JustLaw, a legal rights advocacy platform dedicated to bringing the law to the people by educating the public about South African law and how to access justice through weekly podcasts that cover a variety of legal topics. JustLaw is also a crowdfunding platform that is dedicated to providing individuals, communities and organisations with a platform wherein they can crowdfund legal expenses relating to their cases.
JustLaw leverages on the unique power of the internet in order to achieve universal access to justice
Jason is the CEO and co-founder of CG Holdings, an owner-manager led group that holds shares in a number of companies directly owned and operated by its directors and senior managers.
Today the CG Holdings group of companies employs more than 3000 people in 6 operating companies across the EMEA region.
Based in Dubai, AL LAITH provides event overlay solutions (temporary scaffolding grandstands, mega stages and event facilities to global partners such as the PGA and has an access equipment sales and rental division.
Across Europe, the Middle East, and SE Asia, the IRIS Group (based in London) provides managed drone services doing inspections and providing specialist consulting knowledge on military unmanned equipment.
In Africa the group has investments in a suite of industrial services businesses under Prommac, New Age, EC&I which provide Project Management, Mechanical, Welding, Electrical and Instrumentation solutions to large industrial clients in the mining, petrochemical, energy and paper industries and also has UAV (drone) operations.
Jason has spoken at and attended International seminars in South Africa, Scotland, England, San Francisco, Canada, Singapore, Dubai and Los Angeles to name a few.
Jason become a Mechanical Engineer whilst serving as a member of the South African Police Services. He was a qualified paramedic and now holds a project management qualification and has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). He is also a qualified helicopter and commercial drone pilot.
Jason currently serves on the EXCO of the Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) and was selected in 2017 as one of only 250 global leaders to be part of Peter Diamandis’s mastermind of exponential entrepreneurs. Jason holds EXCO posts on the YPO Global Deal and Opportunity Network headed out of Chicago as well as the YPO Global Entrepreneurship & Innovation Network in Silicon Valley. Jason has been featured on numerous media platforms including Entrepreneur SA and CNBC.
Bethlehem is a globally acclaimed serial entrepreneur . She is the founder and CEO of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand.
She is revolutionizing another beloved Ethiopian gift to the world, COFFEE , via her brand Garden of Coffee which launched in July 2016 . Garden of Coffee is being hailed as A Love Letter to Ethiopian Coffee Culture .
Bethlehem recently launched #MADEFROMSCRATCH , a movement AND platform that shines a spotlight on other emerging entrepreneur's who are blazing trails , creating new markets and uplifting the world. This is her story as told by herself:
When I started soleRebels many people laughed and said I was crazy. “Your plan is to remake the barabasso* into a global footwear brand leveraging the artisan talents in THAT community? What kind of business idea is that?”
To tell you the truth, sometimes I felt like we were crazy.
You see, I grew up in two worlds. The world that I knew of - one of rich culture, creativity and skill, and the world that society told me I was part of - one of poverty, incompetence and hopelessness.
I was born and raised in the Zenabwork/Total suburb of Addis Ababa, one of the most impoverished and marginalized communities of Ethiopia.
Nonetheless, I grew up steeped inside Ethiopia’s rich artisan heritages. I saw my mom hand spinning raw cotton into fine threads that were then used by our talented family members to hand-weave into amazing textiles like Gabbis** and Netallas***. I saw her hand-picking coffee beans for our ancient coffee ceremony and roasting them into the most amazing elixirs I have ever sipped. I saw my family and neighbors constantly creating and improvising inside these cultures. And yet, Ethiopia had plenty of charity “brands”, but not a single global brand of our own.
With all the incredible culture, history and talent around me, how was it that we were receiving charity instead of benefiting from our own talent and resources?
So I set out to change that. I knew that my project had to be truly business-oriented to overcome the complacency and dependency charity had created. I wanted to give our community the opportunity to feel the pride that comes with financing ourselves instead of waiting for handouts. In early 2005, fresh out of college in Addis Ababa, I founded my footwear company soleRebels to provide solid community-based jobs. Tapping into our community’s and the nation's rich artisan wealth and heritages, I started re-imagining what footwear could be.
People kept telling me that I must be crazy.
Nothing world-class had ever emerged from our community. What did I know about shoes anyway? I was scared. I didn’t have anything backing me up if I failed. I was from this community and I needed to make this work as much as the people I was working with.
And so, I set up a workshop on my grandmother’s plot in the village of Zenabework with five other workers.
Despite the humble surroundings, we had a grand idea and vision. We aimed from day one to create, grow and control a world-class footwear brand that would craft creative and comfortable footwear while generating more jobs and growing prosperity for our workers; and all this from our own community by leveraging its artisan skills and the natural resources of the nation.
We wanted to show people that it is possible to be local and at the same time globally successful. Our vision created an intoxicating sense of motivation and ambition among our team who stayed rack focused on creating something world class.
I am proud to say that since 2005, we have been building strong, vibrant, creative communities by delivering world-class footwear.
But why is our story so important? I believe that the best road to true and lasting prosperity lies in communities that produce world class products that leverage local talents and resources. Ethiopia, and Africa in general, desperately needs more trade and not aid or charity. Only then, with sufficient financial resources evenly spread, can we begin to bask in the self-satisfaction that comes from financing the solutions to our own problems and not having them financed from outside.
So here we are. They laughed and we scaled our brand. Pair by pair we became the first ever direct to consumer brand to emerge from a developing nation – selling our brand via eCommerce before eCommerce was huge, and opening branded retail stores around the world.
Mogau Seshoene, 29, is a chef who uses her craft to celebrate South African heritage and traditional cuisine. She does this through her business, The Lazy Makoti, where she provides cooking lessons on South African cuisine. She also does recipe development, tailored to the black South African consumer.
A few years ago, Mogau discovered the United Nations list of intangible aspects of the heritage of humanity in need of urgent safeguarding. She realised the list of cultural music and instruments, regalia, art and food didn’t include any African food.
This made her determined to celebrate and promote South Africa’s unique cuisine through her cooking lessons, cookbooks, TV and dining experiences, in a mission to get our own food on the list as well.
Some of the accolades Mogau has received for her work are being included in Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30, being made a Mandela Washington fellow in 2016, and being crowned the Tshwane Young Entrepreneur of the year in 2015.
Stephen Yeboah is the co-founder of Commodity Monitor, a tech-based business that uses data analytics to generate exchange of information on sustainable production, supply and consumption of commodities in Africa, including mining, oil and gas.
Commodity Monitor utilizes blockchain technology to assess the opportunities and challenges along the global commodity value chain.
Stephen was selected as LinkedIn Top Voice on ‘Economy and Finance’ for 2017/2018, with more than 450,000 followers. He was also selected as part of 30 under age 30 emerging Ghanaian Talents in the world by the UK-based Future of Ghana.
He has about ten-year experience in research and policy analysis in Africa’s extractive sector, agriculture, energy, climate and was a Research Fellow at the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a non-profit chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, from September 2013 to July 2016.
As part of the work for the APP, he engaged in policy research, communications and stakeholder liaison at the highest level towards driving Africa’s agenda in agriculture, energy, climate, natural resources and sustainable development in the global context.
Stephen has also worked as a research consultant at the African Natural Resources Center of the African Development Bank (AfDB), where he assisted in projects like the value chain analyses and the use of financial modelling in Africa’s extractive sector.
He has published more than 100 articles, blogs and papers on energy and climate, finance, agriculture, natural resources governance and sustainable development in Africa and holds a Master in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva, Switzerland.
He is currently undertaking a doctoral study at the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP), University of Lausanne, Switzerland, researching on the politics, institutions of mining and the outcomes on Ghana’s development.
Adriana holds a MSc – summa cum laude – in quantum cryptology and a PhD in quantum biology. Her postdoctoral research focused on quantum effects in photosynthesis as well as the origins of prebiotic molecules and life itself.
As Head of Innovation at SAP Africa she is passionate about exploring innovative applications of emerging technologies to challenges facing the continent.
Adriana has authored numerous academic and popular science articles on her research, and has received a range of research awards, including the global L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science award in 2015, and the Royal Society of South Africa Meiring Naude Medal in 2016.
Adriana is also a faculty member of Duke Corporate Education, volunteers as a board member of the Match4Action Foundation to accelerate social impact and director of the Foundation for Space Development South Africa, an exciting initiative of which is the Africa2Moon project.
Since childhood, Adriana has dreamed of living on another planet, and is currently one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates in the running to move to the red planet in the next decade.
She is grateful for the platform she has as a scientist, innovator and Mars One candidate to inspire school children, teenagers and adults around South Africa and globally to get excited about the future, believe in their dreams and remember Nelson Mandela’s words – “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Tshepo Matseba is the Marketing and Communication Executive at Old Mutual Insure, a wholly owned subsidiary of Old Mutual Limited.
Prior to his current position, he was the Head of Brand and Reputation at the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI). He also served as Corporate Reputation Strategist at M&C Saatchi Abel.
Tshepo has held various prominent positions in the PR industry including: two years as the President of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) and a number of senior roles including MD at Reputation 1st, a boutique strategic communication and reputation management consultancy, Business Editor of The Afropolitan magazine and Editor-in-Chief of The Official NEPAD Yearbook.
Amongst the varied industry positions he has held, he was also the Divisional Director of Marketing and Communication at Liberty Corporate. Before that, he was the Head of Marketing & Communication: Sales and Distribution at Discovery; where he focused on strategic marketing planning & execution, experiential marketing, leveraging sponsorships, media relations, brand management, and digital communication.
With over 17 years expertise across marketing communications, he has served in a range of industries including higher education, financial services, telecommunications, and information communication technology (ICT) in Africa and the Middle East for a number of brands including, Huawei, Momentum, MTN, and UNISA's Graduate School of Business Leadership.
Tshepo has a number of qualifications, including: a Communication Science degree from the University of South Africa; Professional Management Programme from the University of South Africa in collaboration with the Open Univeristy Business School (UK); a Management Advancement Programme at Wits Business School; Senior Management Development Programme and a Digital Marketing Certificate from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. He is currently completing his BA (Hons) in Business Management at the University of Lincoln, UK.
He also holds the APR (Accredited in Public Relations) status, which is internationally recognised in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia through by the Global Alliance of Public Relations and Communication Management Associations (GA). He is also accredited as MCIPR (Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations), UK. Tshepo is the chairman of the judging panel for the South African Brand Summit & Awards (http://www.sabrandsummit.co.za).
Wayne Naidoo is founder and CEO of DUKE, one of South Africa’s fastest growing advertising agencies.
Wayne began his career in marketing, as the Marketing Manager of the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid Committee. Seduced by the world of advertising, he joined Lowe Bull soon after its inception where he started out in Account Management and grew through the ranks to business development director then moved across into general management.
During this time he worked on a varied array of blue chip accounts, including Nike, SAB, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Pick n Pay, Nando’s, Heineken and Johnson & Johnson. In 2007, Wayne was promoted to the Managing Director of the Lowe Group and in 2009 filled the hot seat as the Group CEO.
During his tenure, Lowes was placed first in the Lowes Worldwide Network, ranked the No1 creative agency group in SA as well as winning CT agency of the year. Lowes were also ranked 43rd Best ad agency group in the world by the Gunn Report – being the only SA ad agency to have featured over 3 consecutive years.
In Oct 2012, Wayne took up the position of Chief Marketing Officer for newly found afb (now known as JUMO World) – which in a 2 year space has become one of Africa’s fastest growing Fintech companies. After a very successful client stint, Wayne returned to his first love, Advertising, and started DUKE.
Wayne was also the Chairman for the ACA (Association for Communication and Advertising in SA) a board member for the AAA School of Advertising and Chairman of YPO (Young Presidents Organisation).
Wayne currently serves as Vice Chair for the ACA, is a Regional Exco member for YPO Africa and has recently been invited to serve on the Global Advisory Council for Advertising Week based out of New York.
Listen to Wayne's interview on Vimeo, Youtube and Soundcloud
Craig graduated from university in 1996 and immediately went on a graduate training programme at Price-Forbes (now Alexander Forbes), which was more on the short-term insurance side.
Craig really didn’t enjoy that, so he kept pushing to go into investment. After that, Craig went to Profile Media, where he was put in charge of compiling the unit trust handbook.
Afterwards, Craig joined Fedsure Unit Trust to develop its unit trust business, then joined Old Mutual unit trust in 2001. He got promoted to the Marketing Manager position and from there, Craig became Head of face-to-face for the retail business.
Craig left there in 2007 and went to Nedgroup, where I was named Head of Key Accounts. That was his last position before leaving employment to go into business.
Gradidge-Mahura Investments is South Africa's only Black owned FPI approved Professional Practice. In 2018 Gradidge-Mahura were rated as the Top Wealth Manager, The People's Choice as Top Wealth Manager, the Top Wealth Manager for Lump Sum Investors, and the Top Wealth Manager for Young Professionals in the annual Top Private Bank & Wealth Manager Survey.
Craig is chairperson of the Investment Competency Committee of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa. He is also a founding member of the Nsika Foundation which seeks to fund Black architect students in KZN.
Grant Field has been the CEO of Fedgroup since 2015, having worked for the group since 2002.
Field’s unique approach is informed by his broad experience in the financial services industry, underpinned by his BSc in Engineering, an MBA and years of work within the IT space.
After joining the company to help set up the IT department, his expertise in the aforementioned disciplines saw him being promoted to the position of Fedgroup’s COO. He was personally responsible for initiating a software project to design a bespoke system specialising in the administration of all Fedgroup lines of business.
In his current position as CEO, Field is spearheading a client-centric, personalised approach to the provision of financial services, which is no longer the industry norm. This is made possible by the independence offered by the Fedgroup business model. In addition, Grant is ensuring that Fedgroup remains at the cutting edge of developments in the financial services space through the integration of technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of things), peer-to-peer models and blockchain, amongst others.
A new generation of socially conscious investors, comprising predominantly millennials, is driving a prolific trend in global investing. They want their money to do good in the world, while still realising a fair return. The trend, known as impact investing, has gained significant traction in first-world markets.
Grant recently launched Impact Farming on the Fedgroup app – making it easier for South Africans to invest. Impact Farming is an app-based crowdsourcing solution that gives prospective investors the opportunity to own agricultural assets and venture into the renewable energy space.
Currently, the choice of assets consists of blueberry bushes, beehives where sustainable honey is produced, and urban solar farms that generate clean electricity. A regular income based on the production of these assets can then be earned. This investment can be for as little as R300.
When Luvuyo Rani opened an Internet café in Khayelitsha – many people told him he was mad. Ten years later, with customers queuing up to make use of these precious resources, he has proved his doubters wrong.
An inspiration to the community, Luvuyo Rani‘s is the ultimate rags-to-riches entrepreneurial tale and his business is improving the lives of many people in Khayelitsha who, without him, would be left to watch the digital age pass them by.
Born and bred in the Eastern Cape, Rani came to Cape Town in 1996 to get a tertiary education and pursue a career in teaching. The entrepreneurial seed was always present, however, as Rani had looked up to his self-employed mother from a young age.
After graduating from Cape Technikon with a National Diploma in Commercial Education, and a B Tech in Commercial Education a few years later, Rani started teaching accounting and entrepreneurship at a Khayelitsha high school while continuing to study a B Tech in Business Administration.
After three years, however, he decided to take a risk and resign, and shortly afterwards he started his business - Silulo Ulutho Technologies - with his brother Lonwabo in 2004.
Silulo Ulutho Technologies started out by selling refurbished computers and soon expanded to basic IT training and writing business profiles and plans for local businesses.
In the school’s 7 years 20 000 students completed the 6-month course and this year 1500 people have already enrolled. And again Rani and his partners are struggling to keep up with demand.
In 2006 Rani was looking to improve his own skills and attended the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) on a full Institute of Directors (IoD) bursary to add some concrete business know-how to his natural entrepreneurial flair. He maintains that the Associate in Management (AIM) course prepared him to grow his business with confidence.
In 2014, Luvuyo was honoured by the Junior Chamber International one of the Ten Outstandig Young Persons in the world for his work in entrepreneurship. This accolade could not have come at a better time at Silulo celebrated its 10 years of changing lives through technology.
“We know that there is a hunger for technology in townships and we want to feed this demand,” he adds. “My business partners and I have a vision that will see us opening up Silulo centres in every township and rural area in South Africa”.
In 2016 Luvuyo has own as the Schwab Social Entreprenuer of the Year 2016, where he attended the World Economic Forum in Kigali, Rwanda in June to receive the award.
The 34-year-old chief executive of First National Bank in Lesotho Bradwin Roper, counts his corporate ninja mother and serial entrepreneur father as the wind beneath his rise to head up FNB. “I was raised by two powerhouse parents … which gave me an advantage in the corporate world,” he says.
The family moved out of Eldorado Park, East of Johannesburg, a township designated by the apartheid government for the coloured community, when Roper was a teenager. He matriculated from Dainfern College, one of the richest schools in the country. He credits the contrasts in his life for developing his ability to relate to “South Africans from every background”.
“I’ve never forgotten the value of a rand, I try to be as humble as possible,” Roper says, recounting his climb of the corporate ladder at the banking giant.
He cites the formula: Happiness equals reality minus expectations as his mantra and has kept his expectations low. “It’s unfathomable the places that I find myself”, he grins.
However, being chief executive of FNB’s Lesotho division at just 34 years old also requires a great deal of sacrifice. “There’s a certain level of decorum … the buck stops with me. I’m the responsible officer, if things go pear shaped, I could go to jail, it’s an incredible amount of pressure,” Roper says.
As a coping mechanism, he has latched onto a heathy lifestyle, training six days a week, practicing yoga and hiking in the mountains Lesotho is famous for.
“I’m trying to break the mould that you need to work 16 hours a day to be an effective CEO and I try to lead by example,” he adds. He sees the workplace of the future as increasingly flexible and is opposed to “employees clocking in for 12 hours but only being present for two.”
As banking increasingly moves online, shutting branches and forcing mass layoffs, Roper says FNB has almost stopped identifying as a bank. He cites the company’s mobile offerings through FNB Connect and eBucks Rewards system as proof that the financial services company is evolving into a “platform”.
But Roper never set out to be a banker. Indeed, his first degree is in chemical engineering from the University of Cape Town. The intersection of technology and traditional banking allow Roper to flex his engineering skills as the company insources all its IT functions.
Roper credits his chemical engineering background with a four year heavy emphasis on mathematics for teaching him to solve daily problems in the corporate world of finance. “The skill set is transferable in any industry … which is hugely valuable, given how transient the world has become,” he says.
Nkateko Masinga is an author, publisher, spoken word artist, TEDx speaker, World Economic Forum Global Shaper and 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow.
She was born in Mamelodi and completed her schooling at Glenstantia Primary School, The Glen High School and Dansa International College. She went on to study Medicine (MBChB) at the University of Pretoria, but her true passion is in the arts.
Her written work is published in the 2017 edition of U.S journal ‘Illuminations’ and is forthcoming in UK pamphlet press ‘Pyramid Editions’ in 2018. She is published in Malawi's Nthanda Review, Nigeria's Ake Review and Agbowo Review, the University of Edinburgh's Dangerous Women Project and is featured in South African journals Type/Cast, Poetry Potion, Any Body Zine, Ja. Magazine and UNISA's Guillotine Magazine.
In 2015, her work was shortlisted for the ‘Respond’ Human Rights Poetry Award 2015/2016, organized by the United Human Rights Student Network (UHRSN).
In 2017 she was a finalist for the 4th Crystal Ruth Bell Residency in Beijing, China.
She has been awarded membership into the Golden Key International Honour Society for outstanding academic achievements.
In 2017, her poem titled “I Wonder If Leaving Home Made Me This Way,” published in American journal "Illuminations" Journal Issue 32, was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses collection.
In 2016 she started her own publishing company, NSUKU Publishing Consultancy, in order to assist other writers who wanted to get their work published but didn't know where to start. (NSUKU means "gold" in her home language XiTsonga).
In a few months she had a wide client base with five published books and realised that NSUKU was more than just a consultancy: she was operating as a publishing company. She assisted clients with everything from editing, proofreading, typesetting, layout, getting an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), cover design, printing and distribution.
Agriculture for Mr. Samson is more than just food production (zero hunger), it is the foundation for sustainable development, job creation (no poverty), healthier living as well as national development. He believes agriculture must adopt the business mindset, technology, automation, precision, data and be climate smart.
To this end, Mr. Samson has devoted his time and resources to building modern farms exploring the latest technologies for agriculture, sharing and training others to adopt “the modern agriculture” to ensure together we can use agriculture as a tool to build the nation we so desire. He believes “food production should not be seasonal because hunger is not seasonal”.
Mr Samson is trying to solve a problem many aren't aware exists. In his native Nigeria there is a shortage of fertile land needed to provide food for its ever-growing population of 190 million.
There are only 30 million hectares of farmland under cultivation in Nigeria annually, short of the estimated 78.5 million needed for food production, according to the International Trade Administration of the United States
Says Mr Samson: " This is because we have desertification from the North, coastal encroachment down south, oil spillage, as the middle belt is disrupted by religious, tribal and boko haram crisis. Add to this over grazing, bush burning, hence i say land isn't enough for growing for the growing population."
It is this significant problem that Ogbole is tackling with an unconventional method of farming that involves growing crops in the air.Aeroponics, as this method is known as, is a process of growing plants in the air without the use of soil.
Mr Samson first got involved in soilless farming in 2014, and two years later founded PS Nutraceuticals with his business partner, Mr Peter Okocha Jnr, a company that "implements cutting edge agricultural technologies for efficiency in food production to ensure food security."
"Soilless growing entails removing the soil component, bringing in substitutes, and applying fertilizer to enable the plants to grow," he says.
The advantages of this innovation are manifold, according to Mr Samson. "Growing without soil means you can grow [crops] any time of the year," he adds.
"With soilless farming we have been able to push for what you call urban farming, where we now have farms in cities such that we are able to cut off the middlemen and marketers," he says.
"And with soilless farming we have been able to eliminate the pathogens that exist in the soil that naturally affect these crops."
Only 46% of Nigerian soil is fertile to grow crops, according to him, and as such the country must take a step towards self sustainability in food production, as he believes the "war of the future will be fought through agriculture."
It's therefore imperative, he says, that technology plays a more prominent role in agriculture for a variety of reasons.
"We're bringing in technology into agriculture so that the youth can actually see this as a viable option," Mr Samson says.
"We also want to ensure that food production is no longer seasonal, and we're also bringing in smart sensor technologies into agriculture so that you're able to get feedback from your plants."
As a child Mr Samson wanted to be a doctor, but now armed with a degree in biochemistry, a master's degree, and a PhD, he wants to lead Nigeria on the path to increased food production.
"The future of the economy is dependent on the few people who have bright ideas, that can think outside the box for us to latch on," he says. "Money does not solve problems; ideas, solve problems."
Mr Samsonis now involved in programs to encourage youths to engage in agriculture, based on the belief that "people will always eat."
"Food will not go out of style, so this is one sector that will always remain relevant because people must eat," he says.
Mr Samson is vastly read, B.Sc. Biochemistry Igbinedion, M. Sc. Biochemistry, Ibadan, Common Wealth of Nations MBA, National Open University of Nigeria (in view), PhD Biochemistry, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (in view). Other certificates include Biotechnology from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Introduction to Food and Nutrition from Stanford University, Introduction to population health from The University of Manchester, Greening the Economy from Lund University Sweden, Sustainable Agriculture for year 2050 from Wageningen, Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture from The University of Western Australia Certification, and Public Health from University at Albany.
Watch Samson's Innovation Plans for the Future of Farming on CNN
At the age of 30, Senamile Masango is a nuclear scientist who formed part of the first African team to lead an experiment at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.
She’s been honoured by President Jacob Zuma, and is ploughing on full steam towards her PhD.
Although it seems like she has life all mapped out, it hasn’t always been easy.
Masango was born and bred in the fringes of KwaZulu Natal, KwaNongoma.
Masango started university as a naïve teenager at the age of 16. Soon she found herself pregnant and failing some of her modules. “I abused the freedom and subsequently lost focus,” she said.
She said university was her only chance of freedom because her father was a strict man who never even allowed sleepovers. Her father was a well-known chief inspector from KwaNongoma.
“He was a principled leader and role model who raised us very well and dropped the seed of education in us. He also taught us the value of ubuntu and generosity.”
But she wasn’t so sure about the decision to go to university at 16. “I would not advise parents to allow their children to attend university at such an early age. Instead, they should rather let them take a gap year.”
After giving birth to her daughter, she took a year’s break from varsity and her mother stepped in when she returned to her studies.
Tragedy struck her last year, when her seven-year-old daughter was run over by a car. Trying to put the heartbreak of losing her child behind her, Masango is now a full-time MSc student in nuclear physics at the University of Western Cape.
She specialises in investigating the structure of the nucleus, using a technique called coulomb excitation to help understand the nuclear force that is still under research.
President Zuma recently lauded Masango for her remarkable accomplishment. “We congratulate this inspirational young African woman on her excellent achievement and hope that she will serve as beacon for all other young African women to follow in her footsteps and achieve their goals and dreams,”
Masango is the founder and chairperson of non-governmental organisation South African Women in Science and Engineering, which is registered with the department of social development.
Wise Africa, as it is called, serves to promote leadership and role models for young people wishing to enter the fields of science and technology, and increase the scientific productivity and efficiency of women scientists in the third world by conducting surveys and analyses about the status of women and recognising their achievements.
Masango once turned her house into a makeshift study centre for Grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils in her community, to whom she also provided maths and physics lessons and career guidance.
She donated all her high school study material and books to less fortunate pupils who couldn’t afford to buy prescribed textbooks. She also selflessly assisted university entrants with the application process and fees.
“I am passionate about education and contributing to making the South African education system a better one by assisting in improving maths and science pass rates. I want to change the lives of youth in disadvantaged backgrounds, bring science to the people and encourage more black researchers in scarce skills,” she said. “I also want to make education fashionable in my lifetime.”
Masango is a Princess by birth from the Zulu Royal household and one of South Africa's successful black woman scientist under 35 years
Other endeavours in Masango’s pipeline include hosting an educational show with a focus on science, penning a book, travelling the world and gracing the cover of Forbes Magazine. In addition, she dreams of launching a clothing line in an effort to make education fashionable.
Charity is a vibrant young entrepreneur with a keen interest in the renewable energy and construction spaces. She is co- founder of Strauss Energy Ltd., an award-winning energy enterprise that seeks to alleviate energy poverty in Kenya and Africa at large.
Ms. Charity is a TechWomen Fellow, registered architect, with an MSc. Project Management in Construction and certification from Babson College’s Centre for Women Entrepreneurs in Boston, USA.
She indulges in the building and energy industry through reduction of poverty by affording everyone a solar powered roof that can also generate passive income for their home.
Strauss Energy’s Stima roofing tile is a Kenyan innovation that integrates solar cells into basic roofing material, roofing the home and powering it with clean, green energy at the same time.
In September 2017, Ms. Charity was nominated as “Business Woman of the Year” by the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) and was also awarded as one among six “African female tech entrepreneurs” by the World Economic Forum, in June 2017.
She was also one among 40 most influential women in Kenya under the 2016 Business Daily “Top40Under40”. Because she believes in making a difference in the world,
Charity is a Rotarian and embarks on service-above-self projects. She guarantees no blackouts, reliable power, lower bills and green energy for all. Not one to shy away from a good challenge, and to maintain a healthy balance in life, she enjoys the outdoors and a good hiking challenge is always welcome.
Aside from that, Ms. Charity is a mentor to young women and women entrepreneurs who seek to take up challenging STEM careers that will aid in changing the society for the better.
I’m an entrepreneur, writer and speaker, particularly passionate about transformational leadership and organisational change. I enjoy helping fellow business owners, executive teams and CEOs get the best out of their people, especially in the midst of rapid political, environmental and socio-economic change.
In 2006, after a short and colourful sales career (that included peddling welding machines and earth-moving machinery spares), I took the entrepreneurial plunge and started a company called Cerebra. With a specialist focus on digital content and engagement, Cerebra won numerous multinational accounts and grew quickly to become South Africa’s leading social media agency. In my role as CEO of the business I had the privilege of working with Coca-Cola, Samsung, Toyota, Vodafone, AB InBev, Google, Ford, Huawei, Barclays, and many other remarkable brands. Cerebra was acquired by global advertising giant WPP in 2013.
In 2007 I co-founded a web start-up called Afrigator.com that was acquired by Naspers just 18 months later. Around the same time, I began hosting a popular networking event called the 27dinners, which went on to catalyse business collaborations and relationships through hundreds of successful events.
Daniel Thebe is obsessed with media. But not just that; the Cape Town-based entrepreneur wants South Africans to own and produce the media they consume.
Thebe is the founder of the Township Film Festival: a festival that showcases and celebrates township-owned and inspired films and connects junior film-makers with their more established counterparts.
He started the festival as a way of challenging the South African film industry’s insularity. “There aren’t any platforms in South African townships where local township films are screened, but also the industry is largely white and male-dominated. I wanted to change that.”
Thebe’s obsession with media doesn’t end there. The Raymond Ackerman Academy graduate is also the chief executive officer of online video-on-demand service Uhuru TV.
The online TV station currently has a ratio of 80% international media and 20% local content, but Thebe aims to exclusively air local content in the next five years. At the end of the day, he just wants South Africans to tell their own stories.
“It’s one thing to consume media, owning the narrative behind that media is a different ball game altogether. We’re not there yet, but we’re slowly getting there. It’s about time we told our own stories.”
Thebe’s firm- Uhuru Consumer Electronics has since invested in the TMT sectors. Uhuru’s entities include Isidima Brands Multimedia, Uhuru TV, Uhuru Phones (first and only African owned, controlled and managed smartphone brand in the world), Uhuru Mobile (operational as of October 2018).
Self-described digital diva, Diksha Somai Pillay started off her grown up life as a chemical and mechanical engineer, but has reinvented herself in the mining and property arena.
Her interest in mining began when she was awarded a bursary by leading coal producer Exxaro Resources to study chemical engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2004.
After graduating in this field, and doing her masters at Stellenbosch University, she climbed the ranks at Exxaro and during her nine years there, reached positions such as project engineer and head of digital and innovation.
Somai Pillay, who was born in Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal went on to attend a programme in Artificial Intelligence at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018, where she was one of the youngest attendees. The experience opened her eyes to the “stagnant and archaic” thinking at executive level in South Africa.
She speaks passionately about the need for mining companies to reinvent themselves and the presence of technology in the sector as a major disruptor, which forces a consideration of how mining resources will happen in the future.
To prepare for the jobs of the future, Somai Pillay believes the education system will need to be overhauled.
“We tend to focus too late on careers in robotics, science and technology … this should be a core foundation for kids, they are already so inquisitive,” she says.
She also describes herself as a “proud millennial’ saying that the age range 23-38 has been undermined by people who have worked for twenty years at large companies.
“They want people to work from 8am to 5pm and be on site all day, but technology allows us to be more efficient. These days, we know it is okay to have free time. I like to have fun at work, be open, social and connected,” she says, adding that millennials in the workplace need to have a “massive transformative purpose”.
The 34-year-old vice president at the South African office of leading international bank JP Morgan Chase, Khanyisani Nkosi, can already look back on a career that spans his two passions: mining and finance.
In 2010, this geology and earth sciences graduate from the University of Johannesburg was promoted from an exploration geologist to an associate in the mining advisory team at Nedbank.
He was recruited by Rand Merchant Bank and retained his focus on mining, but this time with blue chip mining companies on the JSE. Fast making a name for himself in mining and finance circles, he was headhunted by the South African office of JP Morgan Chase in 2017 where he has broadened his sector focus to also include technology, media and telecommunications.
Nkosi considers several massive deals he has worked on recently as some of his largest achievements, including the recently announced Naspers listing of New Co on Euronext Amsterdam and an inward listing on the JSE; Lonmin’ s sale to Sibanye-Stillwater resulting in the company becoming the third largest platinum group metal producer in the world; and the sale of Anglo American Plc’s disposal of its Eskom-tied operation to create one of the largest empowered domestic coal producers.
Despite thousands of retrenchments, the sale and closure of mine shafts and policy uncertainty in mining in recent years, he is cautiously optimistic about the direction the sector is taking as the sector remains crucial to further growth in the South Africa’s economy.
Since 2016, Nkosi has also been a director in Black-owned investment company, QuarteReturn Capital, which has a sole mandate to invest and grow black-owned SMMEs in South Africa. The company is a broad-based investment holding company comprised of a number of Black professionals with diverse backgrounds in finance, medicine, property, infrastructure and humanities. Nkosi is currently the chairman of the investment committee, responsible for the assets into which the company invests.
Nkosi believes that people wanting to make it in the mining sector need to have a clear vision and see the process from a holistic view. It’s not just about pulling something out of the ground.
He adds that things don’t just happen without the investment of time and dedication, adding that the banking industry is very different from how it operated in the past. “Deal making isn’t as easy as it used to be, to build up expertise takes time, patience and dedication, older people have to take time in mentoring younger people and passing on some of their knowledge.”
Nkosi is, consequently, passionate about mentoring younger colleagues to improve themselves as finance professionals and build longevity within the financial services
As a graduate trainee in marketing at MTN, Lindelwa Skenjana wanted to study something that would bridge technology and development.
“I wanted to learn and use technology to make the continent better, the dream was either the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the United Nations,” Skenjana says of her time after completing her Masters at the University of Manchester.
When she came back to South Africa, she went into the corporate world, joining Old Mutual in 2013. She held several jobs in the financial services giant, including being a marketing consultant, before being appointed as the marketing and stakeholder relations manager for the Masisizane Fund.
The fund aims to provide development finance and business support to small, medium and micro enterprise businesses, with an ownership of 51% by previously disadvantaged individuals, in the agriculture, franchise, supply chain and manufacturing sectors.
When Skenjana took up at the job at the Masisizane Fund, it had no digital footprint. She had to start from scratch, setting up a website and a social media presence.
Being at the coalface of marketing innovation, Skenjana was promoted to Old Mutual’s head of digital innovation just two years later, at the beginning of June 2019.
She speaks firmly about the power that consumers now have in the palm of their hands by way of their smartphones, to check their funeral policies and other financial services Old Mutual offers.
“As much as people like to look at the West for technological evolution, there is great pick up in West and East Africa; the South African market is a bit slower in trusting,” she says.
Skenjana believes the fast pace of digital adoption in financial services on the continent forces companies such as Old Mutual to look around Africa for best practice in artificial intelligence and robotics.
She and a friend formed the Mbewu Movement, a young professional women’s social dialogue forum, in 2012 after several young colleagues approached her for mentoring opportunities.
The forum leaned on the co-founders’ extended networks to hold successful pioneering sessions that included frank conversations about the difficulties women face in rising to the top of their professions.
For the future of information and communications technology policy Skenjana believes a lot more should be done than merely dropping laptops at schools. She advocates for “out of the box thinking”, including public schools having direct links to private schools so that resources such as computer labs can be shared.
‘As you can see, I love knowledge and learning; I pretty much study all the time,” Maanda Tshifularo says about his five degrees and postgraduate diplomas. He is also pursuing a PhD at the University of Johannesburg, which involves finding financial solutions through artificial intelligence.
Learning was Tshifularo’s ticket out of rural Begwa village, close to Thoyondou in Limpopo. His single mother, who worked as a domestic worker, sometimes came home with just R300 a month for her three children.
“It was incredibly hard — my mom was a maid — I had to travel really far to go to school, and didn’t have much to eat,” Tshifularo recalls.
His love for reading and learning, often while sitting under trees, ensured that he passed matric with five distinctions and was awarded a bursary to study chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town.
He describes going to university as a culture shock, having come from a small village. Tshifularo says he had never seen a lift before and did not know how to operate it, or eat with a knife and fork.
From the rural village, his career has taken him to working in some of the top corporates in South Africa. “I’ve been incredibly lucky,” Tshifularo says.
While his strength lay in maths, science and particularly physics at school, he soon realised after university that he did not enjoy being a chemical engineer.
After several positions within Deloitte and Mckinsey as a consultant in mining and engineering, as well as working at MTN, he moved to Discovery Health, where he appreciated the exposure to innovation and health insurance.
Tshifularo was headhunted by Telesure Group Services in 2017 and became general manager of operations at 1Life Insurance before being promoted to Dialdirect insurance, where he specialises in short-term cover such as car and home insurance.
He says his career in financial services has now spanned the three major areas of insurance, life, health and short-term cover and he is passionate about this sector, while also doing his PhD to research the industry further.
“Some people know from a very young age what they want to do; for me it was a long and winding road,” Tshifularo explains.
In the hopes of giving young people exposure to the diversity of careers out there, Tshifularo produces a weekly podcast called SuperLead (www.superlead.org) where he interviews professionals ranging from pastors to bankers.
“Hopefully they won’t meander as much as I did,” Tshifularo says about his passion project, which he slots in between his pressured work and study schedule.
As head of brand integration for Nike Africa, Lucia Maseko leads the creative, digital and visual aspect of the Nike brand in Africa.
In her previous roles, Maseko thrived on formulating strategies that not only created revenue but also impacted the lives of end users — among them, the launch of social platforms in central West Africa, showing significant wins in consumer engagement and mobile commerce, and improving business efficiency for merchants in the rural parts of Kenya.
Maseko joined Nike Africa in 2017 as the Africa digital lead, providing guidance in crafting and executing the Africa digital strategy within the key markets of South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria. She ensured that each country delivered the highest standards of innovative digital technology and design.
Quickly recognised for her eagerness to learn, Maseko took on the dual role of Africa digital lead and brand communication lead, and pushed boundaries of digital-based storytelling at the intersection of sport and technology.
“The ultimate purpose of my work is to tell the narrative of sport, as sport has the ability to change lives and the world in the smallest ways,” says Maseko. “I use the platform of my role at Nike to boost the achievements of all phenomenal women in sports and celebrate them within the African narrative. The greater achievement for me in my current work is being able to tell stories of sports that are close to me about women in sport.”
With her team, Maseko’s celebrated the work of extraordinary women such as Caster Semenya, creating video work in which the athlete exemplifies the fact that believing in yourself pays off, and of Simi Adeagbo, the first African woman to compete in the skeleton discipline (where competitors lie prone on a sled) at the Winter Olympics.
By consistently recognising the achievements of women, Lucia makes the nuanced statement that the glass ceiling does very much exist, but that women are capable of breaking through it.
Raised in Umtata and East London, 31-year-old banking business manager Lukhanyiso Mgengo currently spends his days amidst the skyscrapers of Manhattan, arguably the heart of global finance.
His long term plans, however, include returning to South Africa, as he wants to be part of the stability and growth he foresees for the country.
Mgengo’s career kicked off in asset management when he was employed as a junior consultant for Allan Gray investment company.
Moving between analyst roles at other investment banks such as Alexander Forbes and RMB Private Bank, he eventually was employed by Standard Chartered where he started off in Johannesburg as business manager to the chief executive of the bank’s southern African contingent, learning more about regional integration in southern Africa and the rest of the continent.
His move to New York gave him a new perspective on banking as the United States is a key market for much of global trade and flows. To survive in the hugely competitive financial industry in New York requires self-discipline as it’s a brutal environment and people can be hired and fired at will, he says.
Despite South Africa’s struggling economy, Mgengo sees tremendous potential in the country with small and medium businesses expanding. He also sees the opportunity to contribute in turning small enterprises into sustainable global ones, with his international banking experience.
“All the fundamentals in South Africa are there, once we get accountability, efficiency and allocation right, the economy will easily grow again, and I want to be part of that,” he says.
Having made the leap from Umtata to New York, Mgengo considers mentorship as a critical component to his journey and feels, with reference to the mentorship from Standard Chartered Bank from which he benefitted tremendously, that he has the experience to offer aspects and perspectives that have not previously been considered, to rising young professionals.