Below is a list of those in West Africa.
1 – Kelvin Doe, 19, Sierra Leone
Founder: K-Doe Tech
The youngest person on this year’s FORBES AFRICA 30 under 30 list hails from one of the continent’s smallest countries.
Doe was brought up by a single mother with five children in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. At age 11, he built a music set for entertainment; at 14 he upgraded it to a radio transmitter, all from scrap electronic pieces he picked on his way home back from school.
At 16, he built a battery from acid, soda and metals from the bin. “There was a big electricity problem and school kids were suffering not being able to study at night, so I decided to make a battery that would provide electricity to some people. Sometimes, lights would come on once a week and the rest of the month it’s dark.”
Doe has also made an emergency shoe charger and a homemade amplifier. His company, K-Doe Tech, also provides tools, workshops, mentorship, resources and networks, ultimately equipping young people in West Africa ( Sierra Leone ) with unique opportunities to take their future into their own hands. He currently works with people between the ages of 12 and 25.
2 – Sulley Amin Abubakar, 29, Ghana
Abubakar says he is inspired by many who have been in this magazine, but his biggest inspiration is his grandmother. He grew up watching her sell everything she could get her hands on, from brooms to cigarettes. His entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off. Abubakar also drew inspiration from Steve Jobs and Elon Musk with their “rags to riches” stories. Following in their footsteps, he saw a gap.
According to Abubakar, there are over a thousand coconut sellers in the Greater Accra municipality alone, who find it difficult to dispose waste. “This creates a huge problem for city authorities, who already have challenges managing household waste. I had to solve the waste problem by using this waste for coal, save lives by creating green charcoal and still make a profit.” He risked his final year law school fees to build Zaacoal, behind his mother’s back, and it’s paying off. He is on course to sign a million-dollar deal to grow the company. He hopes to produce 1,000 bags of Zaacoal per day.
3 – William Elong, 23, Cameroon
Elong is a big dreamer and overachiever. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business at 18, an MBA at 20. At 23, he runs a drone business he started with little more than a PowerPoint presentation.
He founded Will&Brothers, an IT innovation and competitive intelligence start–up, with a main project called DroneAfrica, promoting civil drones as a business service and civil defence tools in Cameroon against terrorism. The drones are also used in mapping, agriculture, media coverage and tourism. He employs four people and has a dozen drones.
Now, his mission is to raise funds to become the first manufacturer of quadcopter type drones – unmanned aerial vehicles with four propellers, which can fly at an altitude of 500 meters with a range from 20 to 25 minutes and featuring a high-definition camera in West Africa ( Cameroon ).
4 – Fatoumata Ba, 29, Senegal
She launched Jumia Ivory Coast, an online retail platform supported by Africa Internet Group. From 10 employees in 2013, to more than 300 in 2015, Jumia Ivory Coast became the fastest growing e-commerce site in West Africa and beyond with more than 500,000 monthly unique visitors buying more than 50,000 products.
She later on took the reins of Jumia Nigeria, the largest e-commerce site on the continent in market share, employees and revenues. She has partnered with more than 30,000 vendors and brands, including Apple, L’Oreal and New Look.
5 – Mark Doumba, 29, Gabon
Co-Founder: CLIKAFRIK Group
This is fortune born out of luck. It all started when friends asked Doumba to find, procure and ship goods from his home in Dubai to Africa. “I initially viewed these requests as inconvenient but as the frequency and volume of the requests grew, I realized there was an opportunity to organize these informal and friendly requests into a formal and sound business venture,” he says.
Doumba hired one employee and the business grew through word of mouth. “I got into this to address the unmet need for professional and reliable sourcing, shipping, delivery and after-sales support of Dubai-based consumer and industrial products to SMEs and consumers based in West Africa and Africa as a whole.”
“With the aim to grow the business and make our processes more efficient, I chose to develop and invest in ventures that can elevate small and medium enterprises and fill the efficiency gaps I was faced with in my earlier days as an entrepreneur.” The company has evolved as an investment holding company lending venture capital to companies in West Africa and across Africa. With operations in Senegal and Gabon, CLIKAFRIK Group offers support to 492 SMEs in Gabon and over 230 in Senegal, turning over $1.2 million in revenue.