We offer a round-up of South African entrepreneurs to watch, in 2022 and into the future.
There’s no denying that economically, our country has been through a tough few years. Plenty of challenges remain – but South Africa’s spirit of entrepreneurship is as strong as ever.
Be inspired by the diverse range of innovative businesses, and the resilience, of these successful young businesspeople.
Gabi Immelman – founder of Mindjoy
Gabi Immelman founded Mindjoy, an edtech startup that teaches children aged eight and up the basics of coding. Designed to be fun and to create a community of learners, Mindjoy offers live virtual coding classes to small groups, as well as online events.
Before starting Mindjoy in 2021, Gabi worked in Silicon Valley in the United States. She has been included on the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans list for 2022.
Ezlyn Barends – founder of DreamGirls Academy
Businesswoman and coach, Ezlyn Barends, co-founded DreamGirls Academy, a non-profit organisation that empowers young girls and women. Through mentorship, education and financial study aid, it aims to help young women access economic opportunities and move from dependence to self-sufficiency.
Ezlyn has earned places on both the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans list and FastCompany’s Top Creative South Africans in Business.
Kim Whitaker – founder of Ubuntu Beds
Kim Whitaker founded Ubuntu Beds in 2020 as a way to find frontline healthcare workers a safe place to sleep by linking them to hospitality businesses standing empty due to the lockdown. Kim is also the co-founder of Khwela Womxn.
Asanda Maqabuka – co-founder of Yojo Food App
Mthatha-based entrepreneur Asanda Maqabuka recognised the need for more food delivery during the pandemic. She created the Yojo Food app to allow restaurants, shisa nyamas and other food establishments to have their food delivered during the lockdown.
Arabella Parkinson – founder of Eat to Thrive
Arabella Parkinson founded Eat to Thrive to promote sustainable food systems and healthy food relationships. During the lockdown, she started offering virtual cooking classes to teach people how to use what they already had in the pantry to make healthy meals.
Qhawe Bula – co-founder of TAQA Digital Library
While he was a second-year Bachelor of Social Sciences student in 2020, Qhawe Bula created TAQA, a digital library of read-along children’s books in all 11 official languages. Bula says the aim is to celebrate African identities and encourage a culture of reading in young children.
Mariam Manack – founder of iTrain
Mariam Manack is the founder of iTrain, a proudly South African movement for women aimed at empowering them through fitness and strength. Mariam holds a BA in Sports Science and was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2019.
Theo Baloyi – founder of Bathu Shoes
Theo Baloyi is the founder and owner of the first black-owned sneaker brand in South Africa, Bathu Shoes. Baloyi’s vision started in the backroom of his uncle’s house in Alexandra township. It now includes an online shop and 16 retail stores around South Africa.
Cameron Naidoo – founder of Guerilla
Cameron Naidoo is the founder of Guerilla, the creative agency behind AmaMeme, the South African meme platform that took off in 2020. Reactions GIFS and images are a big part of social media for individuals and brands. AmaMeme offers uniquely Mzansi memes and content.
Lesego Mokae – co-founder of Ditsogo Projects
Lesego Mokae started Ditsogo Projects from her garage in Rustenburg. Ditsogo Projects is a 100% black female-owned business that specialises in metal fabrication. Going forward, Lesego intends to establish internships and learnership programmes within her business.
Isaac Mbatha – founder of Sky Tents SA
Isaac Mbatha is the founder and chief executive of Sky Tents SA. The company manufactures and supplies a range of tents, including stretch and pagoda tents. He represented Africa at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2019.
Kgahlego Rasebotsa – founder of Interior Bubble
Kgahlego Rasebotsa is the founder and CEO of Interior Bubble, an interior design business based in Limpopo. Starting with just a few scatter cushions she quickly grew her company into a team of eight. She made it onto the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list in 2019.
Lizl Naude – creator of My Africa Lap Desk
During lockdown, Lizl Naude, the founder of Lilly Loompa upcycled homeware, created a unique piece of furniture from a piece of discarded wood. My Africa Lap Desk, an eco-friendly, handcrafted and portable desk for today’s remote workers, was born.
Calvin Pokgwadi – founder of Stempath Labs
Calvin Pokgwadi started Stempath Labs when he noticed the lack of health-care services in poorer communities. Stempath provides pathology services to rural areas. After opening his first branch in 2015, his business has continued to grow despite being in a highly competitive market.