On November 21 2021, African innovators gathered in the Gold Room at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods to sign the Harambe Declaration and officially became Harambeans. As signatories of the Declaration they 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 22 Harambeans representing the 13th and 14th classes were culled from more than 8 500 applications and 245 nominations. They represent eight African countries including Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 8 women and 14 men of the 2020 and 2021 classes will 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 in the fields of consumer products, technology, fintech, healthcare and ed-tech adding to the diversity and richness of the Harambean ecosystem.
CONSUMER PRODUCTS, TECHNOLOGY & INFRASTRUCTURE
Africa is one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. Consumer expenditure on the continent has grown at a compound annual rate of 3.9% since 2010 and is expected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025. When it comes to technology, Africa is being closely watched as the next big growth market. An emerging digital ecosystem is crucial as a multiplier of this growth with access to smartphones and other devices enhancing consumer information, networking, job-creating resources and even financial inclusion. Poor infrastructure continues to hinder economic growth in Africa, often described as ‘Africa’s infrastructure paradox’ where, amid high demand for projects, sufficient supply of capital and investors, and voluminous potential projects, there is insufficient investment in infrastructure projects within the region.
Linda Dempah H’20, Ivory Coast, Adeba Nature
Linda Dempah traveled frequently and led an active lifestyle but paid little attention to how to maintain her chemically processed hair. Despite testing numerous products, she struggled to establish a simple routine with products she could trust. Her mother, an Ivory Coast-based pharmacist with 30 years of experience, gave her a mysterious oil to try, which was life-changing. Adeba Nature was the result and is a brand that innovates on traditional West African secrets for health, beauty and well-being and is breaking the cycle of poverty by empowering local women.
Tinashe Ruzane H’21, South Africa, Flexclub
University of Pretoria, Gordon Institute of Business Science
Tinashe Ruzane has always been fascinated by products that scale massively to support underserved customers. Following several early entrepreneurial pursuits to achieve this in the transportation space and a career in management consulting, he co-founded FlexClub to democratize car ownership for underserved drivers. FlexClub is a vehicle subscription marketplace available in South Africa and Mexico that provides members with flexible access to vehicles from their partners for an all-inclusive monthly fee. FlexClub is revolutionizing how people shop for cars and has built the technology and operational infrastructure to support automotive and mobility companies in managing their car subscriptions.
Chekwas Okafor H’20, Nigeria, Onchek
Chekwas Okafor was inspired to create onychek.com to showcase and promote luxury African fashion to the rest of the world. Onychek aims to be the leading retail portal for African fashion and is building a reputation for stocking only the best of African couture from some of the continent’s most celebrated designers. They are building a company that is customer centric and will be the #1 destination for customers to experience all African luxury fashion brands. They also make basic clothing (t-shirts, underwear, etc.) at scale in Africa, so all Africans can afford new and unused quality clothing.
Arlene Mulder H’21, South Africa, BiB
Arlene Mulder is passionate about driving the development of the tech industry and growing digital problem-solving capabilities in Africa. She has always loved exploring the power of mathematics and coding to transform the way we face challenges. After seven years as an investment banker, Arlene left the finance world to start WeThinkCode and pursue her dream of democratizing and revolutionizing education to deliver top tech talent. Her latest venture is BiB, Africa’s digital audio library that preserves local literary heritage and promotes education through leveraging tech.
Remi Dada H’21, Nigeria, Spacefinish
Remi Dada started out aspiring to become a rapper. His passion for rap was replaced by a stronger passion for design. Using insights gathered from his colleagues and his personal experience, he successfully built one of the most innovative workspaces in Nigeria. He started getting requests to design other offices and Spacefinish was born. As more companies incorporate Silicon Valley styled offices, Spacefinish aims to be at the forefront of the movement globally in years to come.
FINTECH & VENTURE CAPITAL
In 2020, amid a global pandemic, fintech funding on the African continent, including mergers and acquisitions, grew by 35% to $1 billion. Given its large and developing population, Africa is a currently untapped fintech expansion opportunity. Compared to other regional markets, the rise of fintech is not disrupting established traditional banking and payment practices; instead, it is building a new system from the ground up.
Jesse Ghansah H’21, Ghana, Float
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
85% of African SMEs have zero access to financing, with billions locked up every day in receivables due to long payment cycles. This leads to cash flow problems that cause businesses to be late on important expenses and fulfillment of new orders. Jesse Ghansah wanted to solve these problems with his start-up, Float. Float is aiming to close the $300 billion liquidity gap for Africa’s small and medium businesses.
Sisan Dorsu H’21, Nigeria, Torche
University of Pennsylvania
Sisan Dorsu is passionate about mapping every small business in Africa, allowing them to digitize, send, receive and execute payment transactions without a bank account. Torche sells biometric payment terminals (POS machines) and is geo-mapping every small business in Africa.
Simon Ellis H’21, South Africa, Smartwage
University of Stellenbosch
Simon Ellis realized that the vast majority of South Africans were underpinned by a cruel payday poverty cycle prevalent in the country. His passion and desire to give back to the community through sustainable entrepreneurship sparked the idea and creation of SmartWage. SmartWage is changing the way employers pay and engage low-income employees by enabling employees to access a portion of their earnings before payday.
Mandisa Mjamba H’21, South Africa, Stulo
Nelson Mandela University
Mandisa Mjamba co-founded Stulo in late 2019 to put a stop to consumers having to wait in lines. She believes that buying groceries and other items should be quick, easy, and convenient. The Stulo app provides an on-demand delivery service that enables users to shop for everyday items. Mjamba wants to support local businesses create new opportunities and new revenue streams for people.
Thandeka Xaba H’20, South Africa, Digital Africa Ventures
University of Cape Town
As a black female entrepreneur, Thandeka Xaba saw how challenging it was for early-stage tech entrepreneurs to raise the capital needed to take their start-up to the next stage of development and committed herself to doing something about it. Digital Africa Ventures (DAV) is a majority black female-owned venture capital fund that focuses on investing in post-revenue, early-stage digital, tech, and innovation start-ups with 50% black ownership. They offer business acceleration support and access to early-stage capital for seed, pre-series A & series A start-ups up to R5m.
Andrew Airelobhegbe H’20, Nigeria, Lenco
University of Benin
When the Covid pandemic hit, the hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit. His start-up, OgaVenue, ground to a halt as bookings dried up overnight. While working on OgaVenue and working with over 30 000 businesses and managing more than twenty bank accounts in six different countries, he saw an opportunity to pivot to Lenco. Lenco is a Pan-African digital-only bank for start-ups and SMEs. It provides a better business banking experience – 10x better, 10x cheaper, and 100% human support when needed. They also provide tools to help their customer’s businesses succeed.
Bright Chinyundu H’20, Zambia, Sparco
Don State Technical University
Bright Chinyundu founded Sparco with a mission to unify all market players and allow businesses of every size to manage and operate their businesses online using their state-of-the-art technology. Sparco provides financial solutions to individuals and the corporate sector in emerging markets across Africa and globally. Their payment Infrastructure orchestrates various market players on the continent and enables African businesses to send and receive money efficiently.
Hanae Bezad H’20, Morocco, Douar Tech
Sciences Po & HEC Paris
Hanae Bezad is an entrepreneur with a cause. She founded Douar Tech, a Moroccan non-profit organization, that promotes the economic independence of young people, especially women from precarious backgrounds in rural areas, empowering them through training in innovative entrepreneurship and technology.
Mike Mompi H’20, Ghana, Enza Capital
University of California, Davis
Mike Mompi was acutely aware of the power of finance and business to shape the world around us and saw the massive potential and power of start-ups to solve problems at scale. He is the co-founder of Enza capital, investors in the founders of early-stage African technology companies who are using technology to solve large and meaningful problems with sustainable business models. They focus on the logistics, fintech, health, human capital management, and climate-smart solutions sectors.
Uche Nnadi H’21, Nigeria, Payhippo
University of California, Santa Barbara
Uche Nnadi and his two co-founders started Payhippo to leverage their automated underwriting and credit assessment tools to create a more financially equitable Africa. Their mission is to serve the 40 million small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to gain access to the funds necessary to grow their business. Their products help SMEs to access and spend lender credit effectively.
HEALTHCARE & EDTECH
One of the major shifts resulting from Covid-19 was in the education sector. As more people gravitated towards online studying, the EdTech industry saw an increase in funding from $7,651,100 in 2019 to $13,720,500 in 2020. By June 2021, EdTech companies had raised $12.83M in disclosed funding, an 89.5% growth compared to the same period in 2020. The Healthcare sector is another massive growth area, both in South Africa and across other parts of Africa with Fitch predicting that the South African healthcare market will reach a value of $47.1billion by 2027.
Adam Fine H’21, South Africa, Fives Futbol
University of Nottingham
Adam Fine believes that sport is hugely important for social cohesion, instilling a passion in young people, boosting health, and leveling the playing field in terms of opportunities. In the words of Madiba, ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’ Fives Futbol is South Africa’s largest five-a-side soccer company in world-class soccer facilities across the country for the use of all. 50 000 monthly players operate on 18 sites in five provinces. Fine believes in giving back so Fives also offers financial support, employment, and empowerment programs for the underprivileged.
Byeronie Epstein H’21, South Africa, Deep Medical Therapeutics
University of Cambridge
Byeronie Epstein co-founded Deep Medical Therapeutics (DMT) to provide Africans with the opportunity to receive custom healthcare solutions using big genomic data and AI. DMT develops innovative solutions to assist African governments, clinics, scientists and pharmaceutical companies to understand and treat new and existing diseases in Africa. DMT wants to drive the continent’s capability of performing diagnostic testing and genomic sequences of diseases and contribute to the development of drugs and vaccines.
Giancarlo Beukes H’21, South Africa, Impulse
University of Cape Town
Giancarlo Beukes founded Impulse out of a desire to improve the quality of lives of people and ease access to healthcare. The goal of Impulse is to develop mature, innovative and frugal medical technologies, within developing-world markets, into small companies, which can be licensed to large pharmaceutical companies for developed-world market scaling. The focus of Impulse’s innovation is on two primary technologies in the fields of pediatric asthma. Their ZiBiPen is the only reloadable adrenaline autoinjector with customisable depth of injection to improve injection effectiveness and is poised to revolutionize the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.
Lethabo Motswaledi H’21, South Africa, Voyc
University of Cape Town
After being exposed to contact centers, Lethabo Motswaledi and her co-founder realized that agents did care about their customers but didn’t have the time or capacity to manage every interaction consistently and that quality assurance processes were manual and inefficient. Voyc gives contact centers the capacity to monitor 100% of their calls and identify customers who need more help and which agents need more training. Voyc is dedicated to bridging the trust gap between companies and customers by empowering contact centers to handle every single interaction with consistency and care.
Ntsako Mgiba H’20, South Africa, Jonga
University of Cape Town
A home burglary and the loss of a neighbor’s hard-earned possessions was a harsh lesson on community vulnerability to crime, especially for those who struggle to afford high-tech security systems, electric fencing, burglar bars and 24-hour armed response. The incident was the impetus Ntsako Mgiba needed to develop Jonga, a security technology company that provides an affordable, community-based alarm system for low-income homes and small businesses.
Stacey Brewer H’21, South Africa, SPARK Schools
Stacey Brewer founded SPARKS Schools to address the national crisis in education in South Africa. SPARK focuses on providing affordable, high-quality education to underserved communities. It is not only about access to education but access to high-quality education to ensure that their scholars can compete at an international level.
Matthew Henshall H’21, South Africa, Code4kids
University of Cape Town
Matthew Henshall is passionate about technology and education. His latest start-up in this field, code4kids, provides an easy way to upskill teachers and implement a complete coding, robotics and IT curriculum in a classroom for ages 8-15 using real-world tools and content. The company has a strong focus on continuous professional development so empowers and trains teachers to facilitate the lessons, which has enabled them to drive the curriculum in more than 100 schools in South Africa and Namibia.
“The rising Bretton Woods Cycle promises a unique set of challenges related to change and growth. Yet, I am confident that with our innovative and vibrant classes of 2020 and 2021, we will face them with the firm conviction and optimism of our decade-old Declaration. “The Africa our generation desires can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is ours,” said Harambeans Chairman and Founder, Okendo Lewis-Gayle.