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Forbes Africa '30 Under 30' Features Solutions-Orientated Innovators

FILE - An undated screenshot of Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 2023 class announcement video as seen on YouTube/ForbesAfrica.
FILE - An undated screenshot of Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 2023 class announcement video as seen on YouTube/ForbesAfrica.

JOHANNESBURG — The magazine calls the ninth annual edition its "30 Under 30" list “Tomorrow's Titans,” spotlighting of twenty-somethings who are doing “amazing” work, from health to technology to fashion.

The 2023 class list includes young achievers who built "solutions-orientated" businesses from scratch, representing Botswana, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Tanzania, Cameroon, Namibia, and Lesotho.

A few years ago, when Dr. Wedu Somolekae announced she was opening in Gaborone Botswana’s first medical aesthetics practice — a field aimed at altering patients' cosmetic appearance — few in the southern African nation knew what she was talking about.

Procedures that Somolekae and her team at Medi-Glow Aesthetics do include removing scars, wrinkles, moles, excess fat and unwanted hair. Africans usually have to travel to developed countries for cosmetic surgery, but Somolekae's service now means they are able to receive it at home.

"Aesthetic medicine is a relatively new industry in Botswana especially, but even on the continent," she said. "So getting the recognition will spark a lot of curiosity in people and hopefully get them interested in the kind of services we offer."

In Nigeria, Blessing Abeng's company, Ingressive for Good, is equipping West African youth with the tech skills they need to build their own businesses and to get jobs.

"So far, we’ve trained 132-thousand people and placed thousands in jobs," said Abeng. "Most of the people who were responding and saying congratulations also felt like the life they want is possible and has inspired them to take courses… We currently have a cybersecurity scholarship in partnership with Cisco and the application for that has really soared."

Lesotho’s Koaile Manoheng, director of Khantsa Energy, founded a company that provides solar power to rural communities throughout the tiny mountain kingdom, giving them electricity which they otherwise would not usually have.

Manoheng says the Forbes award is unexpected, but very welcome.

"This really gives us an opportunity to spotlight the plight of energy poverty in Lesotho and energy access," he said, "and work we’ve been doing when it comes to other focus areas such as climate change awareness, bringing it into the social dialogue, closer to people who don’t understand what we’re dealing with here."

Abeng's advice to young African innovators is to start businesses slowly, and with humility.

"Most times we overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can do in a year," he said. "Do one thing every day to be better and bring you closer to your goals….Ask for help when you need it, and when you find a problem that’s worth solving, go ahead and solve it. The only way you learn is by experimenting."

All three entrepreneurs say they had to make many mistakes before they found a recipe for success. As Manoheng puts it, "it takes bravery to bounce back from failure."