Eight young Kenyans under the age of 30 years have made it to the elite list of Forbes top 30 under 30. The seven gentlemen and one lady have been feted for their exceptional performance and exemplary service in different industries.
“The young African entrepreneurs, disruptors and innovators featured on this list are impatient to change Africa and together represent the entrepreneurial, innovative and intellectual best of their generation,” said Mr. Mfonobong Nsehe a writer at www.forbes.com.
An outside panel of 12 judges from across Africa was picked to help identify the group of outstanding entrepreneurs and innovators under the age of 30, in November last year according to Nsehe. In each of 15 categories, ranging from technology, real estate to social entrepreneurs, Forbes editors and reporters together with judges choose the field’s brightest stars who are individually most surprising, engaging, and hard working.
The eight Kenyans include:
“Wadongo, a 26 year-old Kenyan engineer designed a solar-powered LED lantern called MwangaBora (Swahili for “Good Light”), an invention which is fast replacing smoky kerosene lamps and firelight in rural Kenya. Wadongo has been distributing thousands of these lanterns throughout rural Kenya where there is little or no electricity. His organization, Sustainable Development For All (SDFA) sponsors an empowerment initiative that teaches poor Kenyans how to reproduce these solar lanterns and sell for profit.” Forbes
Cosmas Ochieng, Founder, Ecofuels Kenya
Cosmas Ochieng, a 26 year-old Kenyan entrepreneur runs Ecofuels Kenya, an East Africa firm which produces environmentally friendly, green biofuels and organic fertilizers from renewable indigenous sources such as the croton nut.
Two Kenyan youths in the real estate sector have been named among the top 30 African entrepreneurs under the age of 30 who are making the most dramatic impact across Africa in the prestigious Forbes annual listing of the 30 under 30 innovators and entrepreneurs.
Erick Muthomi, Founder, Stawi Foods & Fruits
The 26 year-old Kenyan entrepreneur is the founder of Stawi Foods and Fruits, an innovative start-up which procures bananas from smallholder farmers in rural Kenya and processes them into banana flour.
Joel Mwale, Founder, Skydrop Enterprises
Mwale who is 20 years old runs SkyDrop Enterprises, a rainwater filtration and bottling company which produces low-cost purified drinking water, milk and other dairy products in Kenya. Mwale founded Skydrop in December 2009 and the company now employs over 20 people.
Lorna Rutto, Founder, EcoPost
Lorna Rutto, 28 is the founder of EcoPost, a profitable social enterprise which manufactures aesthetic, durable and environmentally friendly fencing posts using plastic waste, a more environmentally friendly alternative to timber. EcoPost collects this plastic waste (such as polypropylene and polyethylene) and manufactures fencing posts from it. Rutto has earned international acclaim for her efforts in providing an alternative waste management solution to Kenya’s plastic menace.
Mark Kaigwa, Partner, Afrinnovator
Mark Kaigwa, 25 is a multi-talented creative director, filmmaker, digital marketer and entrepreneur. Kaigwa is a co-founder and partner at Afrinnovator, a venture which aims to put Africa on the map by publishing exploits across African innovation, technology and start-ups. He is also Partner at African Digital Art – the web’s leading resource for creative inspiration in animation, illustration, photography and design from Africa – Forbes
Ian Kahara and Kimiti Wanjara, Founders, Serene Housing developers
The two, both 29, made headlines as a breed of young vanguard entrepreneurs who beat all financial odds to bet their fortunes on the lucrative real estate sector, creating a 350 million development, Sigona Valley, an exclusive gated community in West Nairobi.
“The listing came as a complete surprise to us, when we started we had a dream of getting into real estate we never realised the impact it would have on young people also interested in getting into the industry in Kenya,” said Ian Kahara Director, Serene Valley Properties Limited, the developer of Sigona Valley.
“Being listed in the 30 under 30 innovators and entrepreneurs is a humbling experience that reinforces the need for perseverance, dedication, a clear goal, divine intervention and is a challenge to do more,” said an elated Mr. Kimiti Wanjaria, Director, Serene Valley Properties Limited.
Some of those who have featured in the Forbes list include Kenya’s business magnate Chris Kirubi, Uhuru Kenyatta and Sameer Group proprietor Naushad Merali in the top 40 wealthiest Africans list.
Kimiti and Ian both ICT graduates together with 28-year-old quantity surveyor Thomas Koigi, and 37-year-old biochemist Johnson Waweru, proprietors of Serene Valley Properties Limited launched Sigona Valley in March 2012, having raised secure non-bank, development finance from Shelter Afrique to fund their project.