Building Africa’s Future: Welcoming the 12th Class of Harambeans

Photo Credit: Jurien Huggins

Habemus Harambeans!!! At 3 o’clock on April 7th, 20 African innovators gathered in the Gold Room at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods and signed the Harambe Declaration. In so doing they officially became Harambeans and reaffirmed our pledge “to work together as one to pursue the social, political and economic development of Africa and fulfill the dream of our generation.”

The 12th class of Harambeans is culled from a competitive pool of 17 universities, representing 9 African countries and leading high impact ventures in 8 fields of action. Thus, in one fell swoop, the 10 women and 10 men of the 2019 class of Harambeans expand our Pan-African ecosystem, and strengthen our collective ability to build Africa’s future.

New Harambeans – Impact Sectors

The new Harambeans are spearheading ventures in sectors critical to Africa’s prosperity. While there is overlap across numerous industries, the new signatories are primarily working within Media and Creative Industries; Agriculture, Health, and Wellness; Fintech and Finance; Education; and Technology and Infrastructure. The plurality of sectors enriches the diversity of our entrepreneurial ecosystem and creates an enabling environment in which solutions become inherently sustainable.

Media and Creative Industries

With a new generation of modern urban consumers and rapid advancements in technology, Africa’s media and creative industries are beginning to flourish. Apparel and footwear alone generated US$31bn in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, according to Euromonitor. The rise of “Nollywood” in Nigeria, the proliferation of African visual arts in Western markets, and the creation of organizations such as the African Arts Trust all indicate that the media and creative industries hold immense growth potential for African economies.

Ms. Indira Tsengiwe H’19, South Africa, Youngpreneur Media (YPM)

University of Cape Town

Ms. Tsengiwe is a University of Cape Town graduate, inspired by the outcomes she witnessed at entrepreneurship conferences. With Youngpreneur Media (YPM), she envisions a network solely dedicated to cultivating the potentials of African youth through impactful and stimulating storytelling. YPM uses media as a tool to cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship across the African continent.

Ms. Lolade Siyonbola H’19, Nigeria, NOIR FEST

Yale University

During her time at Yale, Ms. Siyonbola was one of the main organizers for the inaugural Yale Africa Film Festival – a vision she conceived and saw through to its successful execution. NOIR FEST is the next step on her entrepreneurial journey, bringing visionary, world-class African film and media to Diaspora audiences around the world, starting with US urban markets. This venture is a traveling day-long film festival partnering with local theaters and cultural centers to showcase highly-anticipated, visionary African content.

Ms. Kashira Naidoo H’19, South Africa, Jig SA Ltd.

University of Witwatersrand

As a child, Ms. Naidoo witnessed the challenges her mother faced as the owner of a beauty salon. This inspired her to create a venture that could solve challenges faced by businesses like hers. Ms. Naidoo’s solution with Jig SA Ltd. utilizes data analytics to enable service providers to grow sales using smart data marketing solutions. The long-term impact of Jig is to create an online marketplace for all vendors in the regions of Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.

Ms. Nelly Wandji H’19, Cameroon, MoonLook

Paris Graduate School of Management

Ms. Wandji has been a consultant in selective distribution with over 10 years of experience in retail for luxury brands. With her venture MoonLook she provides distribution platforms to African creatives and offers international markets unique, authentic, and consciously made products. MoonLook is the first international platform dedicated exclusively to the promotion of creatives from the African continent and its diaspora.

Agriculture, Health, and Wellness

Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Africa, providing 60% of jobs across the continent and generating approximately 23% of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, according to a McKinsey report. Health and wellness are industries that are closely linked, and are experiencing a boom as well. For instance, McKinsey also reported that Africa added 70,000 new hospital beds, 16,000 doctors, and 60,000 nurses between 2005 and 2012 — and the numbers have grown since then. With these industries on a trajectory for exponential growth, Harambeans understand that the best path will be one of sustainability and inclusion, and are making these goals a reality with their ventures.

Mr. Takura Chimbuya H’19, Zimbabwe, Brother’s Beard

University of Cape Town

A University of Cape Town graduate, Takura Chimbuya was motivated to create his venture after researching solutions to his own health and wellness issues. He aims to make Brother’s Beard the preferred beard grooming product in Africa. The venture also has a mission to create educational programs that will open a dialogue and encourage men to speak up about mental and physical health challenges.

Mr. Samuel Dotun H’19, Nigeria, Volta Irrigation

African Leadership University

Samuel Dotun spent more than a decade of his life in rural areas with smallholder farmers who spent their entire lives depending on rainfed agriculture. Witnessing the difficulties of being a smallholder first hand inspired him to launch Volta Irrigation. The venture provides farm assets to farmers as a loan and offers a completely flexible repayment option to accommodate the irregular cash flow of most farmers. Volta Irrigation has a goal to impact 10,000 farmers by the year 2022.

Ms. Nina Francisco H’19, Angola, Nina Malanje

Pepperdine University

Nina Francisco’s MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Pepperdine University equipped her with the skills and experience to be a leader of global social change and create innovative, as well as sustainable solutions in the skincare industry. Her venture, Nina Malanje, is a plant-powered, natural and organic skincare brand committed to sustainability. Nina Malanje also supports women in Africa thrive through social initiatives, such as partnering with Ajike Shea Centre to empower rural women in Ghana.

Ms. Akosua Koranteng H’19, Ghana, ANiM Naturals

University of Cape Town

When Akosua Koranteng encountered challenges in finding natural beauty products, she knew she had the expertise to create a solution. ANiM Naturals makes high quality natural hair and skin care products using sustainably sourced ingredients from across the African continent. The mission of ANiM Naturals is to empower people of color with the knowledge, tools and products needed to feel beautiful naturally.

Ms. Catherine Mahugu H’19, Kenya, Chiswara

University of Nairobi

Catherine Mahugu comes from a generation of coffee farmers. Her venture, Chiswara, was born after a trip to rural China courtesy of Alibaba and UNCTAD. She was inspired by how rural commerce has brought digital and financial inclusion to the communities. Chiswara is a brand that offers an equitable coffee experience for farmers and consumers which leads to a sustainable and inclusive coffee supply chain.

Fintech and Finance

The Global Findex Database in 2014 discovered that 66% of Sub-Saharan Africans did not have a bank account. Access to financial services is one of the biggest challenges for African businesses, which is why in recent years entrepreneurs have turned those challenges into opportunities with ventures focused on utilizing fintech and improving finance. According to the IMF, fintech in Africa presents enormous opportunities, with mobile money accounts now surpassing bank accounts in many countries. The inclusion enabled by fintech is granting access to financial services to parts of Africa’s population that were previously unbanked including youth, low-income families, people in rural regions, and women.

Ms. Monique Baars H’19, South Africa, Fineazy

London Business School

Monique Baars has a Masters in Finance, built an ed-tech non-profit in South Africa, and consulted multiple financial institutions for BCG across Africa. While evaluating fintech opportunities in Africa, it was clear to her that education is the greatest barrier to sustainability. Fineazy builds financial capability and confidence, using text message conversations, so all Africans are empowered to make informed financial decisions.

Mr. Anis Kallel H’19, Tunisia, Kaoun

University of Rochester

After 4 years studying in the United States, and during a trip to 16 African countries, Anis Kallel saw the impact of mobile money on individuals and businesses, and wanted to improve the financial services in his home country of Tunisia. With Kaoun, he enables unbanked and underbanked individuals and businesses to access financial services through identification, payments and credit solutions. The mission is to empower every person on the planet to become part of the modern financial world, by using data science to power payments and credit scores.

Mr. Anthony Uagboe H’19, Nigeria, Osemo Borealis

University of St Andrews

Anthony Uagboe pursued a career in finance and became aware of the potential the right financing provides for unlocking capabilities. With Osemo Borealis, he is making those opportunities more accessible for people in Nigeria. Osemo Borealis is a tech-enabled savings and loans cooperative with the aim of offering accessible loans to the under-banked, who are predominantly women.

Education and Business Development

The education and business development sectors in Africa remain a challenge, with most African countries falling short of the UN Sustainable Development goals. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest gender gap in the world for enrollment in tertiary education and the World Economic Forum reported in 2018 that it will take an estimated 135 years to close this gender gap under the continent’s current conditions. Rather than relying solely on government institutions, African entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate and creating solutions through their African businesses. This is being accomplished through the adoption of edutech platforms, mobile technology, private universities, online learning, and other innovative educational ventures.

Mr. Zachariah George H’19, South Africa, Startupbootcamp (SBC)

Stanford University

As a Stanford University graduate and former investment banker on Wall Street, Zachariah George saw the opportunity to pioneer venture capital in Africa. So he made a decision in 2010 to return to Africa and start the process of mentoring, growing, scaling and investing in early stage African tech ventures. With Startupbootcamp (SBC) he helps discover, support, and scale Pan-African companies to compete on a global stage. SBC Africa is the largest multi-corporate backed global accelerator program in Africa for early-stage tech startups.

Mr. Lungelo Gumede H’19, South Africa, Excel@Uni

University of Cape Town

Lungelo Gumede was inspired to create Excel@Uni after experiencing his own hardships with bursaries and student support during his years at the University of Cape Town. Excel@Uni provides a turnkey solution to all major issues related to student success solutions for scholarships and universities. The venture has a mission of reducing the dropout rate of poor and disadvantaged students.

Mr. Kelechi Ofoegbu H’19, Nigeria, Impact Hub Accra

Sikkim Manipal University

In 2012, Kelechi Ofoegbu was responsible for running a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program at the now defunct Open University of West Africa (OUWA). Following the success of the program, several leaders within OUWA, including Kelechi Ofoegbu, decided to take the program to its next possible iteration and launched Impact Hub Accra. This venture leverages the dynamics of the shared economy to cut down the costs of operation for small businesses, with the resulting increased efficiency leading to major productivity gains.

Mr. Bradley Poku-Amankwah H’19, Ghana, Agridemy

London School of Economics

Bradley Poku-Amankwah believes that Africa’s youth unemployment crisis can be solved in part by changing Africa’s economic orientation to become more self-reliant. Agridemy aims to spark a revolution in agro-processing skills development on the African continent in its highest potential sector for impact. The mission is to deliver this sustainable impact by training 100,000 graduates in agro-processing by 2030.

Technology and Infrastructure

An increasingly digitized continent means new opportunities for transforming infrastructure and creating technology-based ventures that are creating solutions to societal, political, and economic challenges. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group projects that technology will create a minimum of three million jobs across Africa within the next five years. By combining these employment opportunities with solutions to developmental challenges, African entrepreneurs are utilizing technology in a way that not only alleviates poverty but creates prosperity.

Mr. Waleed Abdou H’19, Egypt, Ship’nbag

Cairo University

The winner of the Harambean Harvard Prize, Waleed Abdou is a graduate from Cairo University and an ongoing nomad who wants to empower people to explore the world. His venture Ship’nbag is a marketplace fulfilled by travelers who buy and ship orders on their way back. Ship’nbag uses automated technological platforms offering peer-to-peer as well as fully-funded travel packages for travelers.

Ms. Bridget Boakye H’19, Ghana, Talents in Africa

Swarthmore College

Born and raised in Ghana, Bridget Boakye moved to the United States at the age of 10 and worked in development and education after graduating from Swarthmore College. She moved to Ghana, longing to contribute to the development of her country. With Talents in Africa, she has co-founded a hiring platform where candidates get great careers based on ability and potential rather than credential or education.

Mr. Saviour Dzage H’19, Ghana, Asoriba

Kwame Nkrumah University

After witnessing the challenges his parents faced as pastors in Ghana, Saviour Dzage was inspired to create a solution. His goal with Asoriba is to provide an integrated software solution which enables effective administration and instant mobile engagement to 2.6 million urban African churches. Asoriba also addresses youth unemployment through an intern-to-hire program that is based on mentorship and entrepreneurship.

Ms. Valerie Labi H’19, Ghana, Sama Sama

University of Cambridge

Valeria Labi thrives in situations where her knowledge of businesses and processes can be utilised to drive shared value. She founded Sama Sama in 2015, which was born out of a donor invested project by Global Affairs Canada. Sama Sama is a sanitation social enterprise that provides a complete solution for individuals looking to own toilets in their homes and is the easiest way to buy a toilet in Ghana. The venture designs a toilet, produces it locally, uses direct sales and offers tailored payment plans.

Eternal gratitude to the our friends at MIT and Harvard University as well as our partners and investors who helped us welcome the 12th class of Harambeans including Michael Seibel of Y Combinator, John Macomber of the Harvard Business School, Megan Mitchell of the MIT Legatum Center and Marcie Bianco from the Stanford Social Innovation Review. We also want to acknowledge the Harambeans who participated in our 12th annual admissions process along with the Harambe Dream Team.

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