The youth aren’t just the voice of the future, they’re tomorrow’s leaders. We showcase some of SA’s most successful young entrepreneurs.
Mara Communication: Xolani Mtshizana (34)
By 17 Xolani Mtshizana had sold his first business. By 22, he was named Absa’s entrepreneur of the year and sent to Paris. By 29 he had left the world of entrepreneurship and was a high-rolling ad exec. Today, he is the founder of Keep Digging, an organisation that focuses on inspiring and fostering the youth and entrepreneurs in South Africa
Umuzi: Thapelo Motsumi (22)
One of the many casualties of a broken education system, Yeoville-born Thapelo Motsumi was never going to let disadvantages beyond his control stand in the way of personal growth. Enter the Umuzi Photo Club, a non-profit organisation that aims to teach teenagers in urban, township and rural environments how to use photography to tell their stories.
Thapelo joined the programme and quickly realised a love for telling stories through images. After spending a year in the programme, he pledged to work for the agency side of Umuzi, an offshoot of the original foundation.
Biped Personal Biotech: Graham Rowe (31)
Winner of the reality TV show, The Big Break Legacy, Graham Rowe is a firm believer in laying strong foundations. He followed his passion when he was choosing a degree and studied genetics, but he wasn’t interested in being an academic.
He wanted to be an entrepreneur, and he wanted to revolutionise the local health industry. At the age of 31 he is now poised to do just that – thanks to a slow and steady focus on amassing the skills he would need to get his dream off the ground.
Generation Earth: Catherine Constantinides (29) and Ella Bella (27)
Two sisters are following their passions, creating sustainable businesses and making a real difference to communities in the process. In their early 20s, Catherine Constantinides and Ella Bella had already achieved what most only dream of.
Local license holders for Miss Earth in South Africa and creators of school phenomenon Generation Earth, the sisters believe in doing what you love, and making a difference to those around you in the process. Their passion is infectious, and the reason why they have taken South Africa by storm.
Awethu Project: Yusuf Randera-Rees (30)
Yusuf Randera-Rees grew up in Johannesburg, and went to school at Sacred Heart and Crawford before going abroad to study at Harvard. He graduated and went on to Credit Suisse where he worked for a volatility trading group in New York and Zurich. During his time in America, Yusuf started two non-profits, one supported by UNAIDS, and the other by the International Finance Corporation.
He was then awarded a South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he completed Masters degrees in Financial Economics and African Studies. At Oxford he developed the initial business plan for what would eventually become the Awethu Project.
In 2009 he returned to South Africa to turn the idea into reality. In 2011 Randera-Rees – and Awethu – was selected as one of the world’s best emerging social entrepreneurs by Echoing Green.