‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’
Africa, the world’s second-largest and second-most populous continent is host to a wealth of opportunities and brilliant minds rising to the challenge and providing Innovative solutions to existing problems, inspiring change for future generations.
We take a trip from the world of entertainment, tech and entrepreneurship as we bring to five young influentials making strides in different fields of endeavour, making a difference.
1. Scilla Owusu, 24, Ghana
Young, creative and yes unstoppable! British-Ghanian self-taught director and producer Priscilla Akosua-Boatemaa Owusu, simply known as Scilla Owusu is shattering glass ceilings in a male dominated world and boldly changing the narrative of what it means to be young, black and female.
The Video Director, Producer, Screenwriter, and Founder of Youngtrepreneurs at just 24 proudly boasts of a stellar list of clients such as Sardokie, Stonebwoy and Fuse ODG. The creative face behind the director’s chair of many of Africa’s top music hits, she has also worked with global brands such as Burna Bit, Patoranking, Mr. Eazi and Davido.
The award winning screenplay writer began her delve in the creative space in 2015, having graduated from college with a degree in business studies in London, but she was yet to find her life’s purpose. Gradually, she found her passion in screenwriting, she later wrote and produced her first six-part series titled A Lesson Learnt, it fetched her an award at the Screen Nation Film & Television Awards, just a year later.
Encouraged by the recognition and success, super determined, Owusu delved into the world of music video production at the age of 19. Even though obviously talented, she worked twice as hard to prove she is worthy of being in the room, it’s paid off without doubt.
In 2018, Scilla made her first music video and within a year she had already directed smash hits such as Tomorrow by M.anifest featuring Burna Boy, Love coming down by Don EE featuring Davido and Odo Bi by Stonebwoy featuring Sarkodie. Her knack for quality and captivating video content has earned her an enviable spot in the creative world of entertainment.
In 2020, the 24 year old was featured amongst Forbes prestigious list of Africa’s 30 Under 30 list.
Driven by the need to pave an easier path for upcoming Ghanaian creatives Scilla Owusu, established her Ghana-based social impact organisation Youngtrepreneurs, through which she spearheads workshops focused on impacting knowledge and providing job opportunities with top industry professionals onboard.
Aside Forbes Africa, Scilla Owusu has been featured in other media outlets including the BBC and OkayAfrica.
2. Mabel Suglo, 27, Ghana
“Disability Isn’t Inability”
Mabel Suglo, driven by the need to empower the people with disabilities as well as rural women founded her social enterprise Dignified Wear.
Through her initiative aimed at the empowerment and the creation of wealth, the twenty seven year old empowers the physically disadvantaged as well rural women through organisation of training of making of locally made shoes, fabrics, clothing, shoes, handbags, jewellery among others materials gotten via recycling.
It all started in 2013 for Mabel as a university student, inspired by the saddening experience her grandmother went through having been ostracized from society due to leprosy, she decided to put an end to stigmatization for the disabled, making them integrated in society via giving and connecting them opportunity to be artisans to live a life of purpose. Proving Disability is not Inability.
Through her eco friendly company, the entreprenuer and humanitarian, teaming up fashion entreprenuers for asthetics and a local school for the disabled has eyes set towards turning waste to wealth through cycling car tyres among other recycled materials.A percentage of proceeds from the said merchandise is aimed towards the contribution of personal aids such as wheelchairs for the Ghanaian disabled
In 2015, aged 22 she won $12,500 as second runner up for the coveted Anzisha prize.
3. Gogontlejang Phaladi, 25, Botswana
“Stand up and take action. Refuse to be silent.” Gogontlejang Phaladi’s charge to young Africans.
HIV/AIDS has left lasting devastating impacts in homes, more specifically in Botswana, having one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. The country sadly has witnessed a high percentage of loss of lives with resulting impacts – children orphaned. Burdened by the pain and trauma and need to carve a better Africa, social change activist
Gogontlejang Phaladi, 25, considered one of the “most innovative young people across the world” kicked off her Gogontlejang Phaladi Pillar of Hope Organization (GPPHO).
An award winning developer, philanthropist, entrepreneur and seasoned moderator, through her non governmental foundation focuses on advocating for Human Rights as well as Philanthropic issues among other issues.
Her journey started right from the very tender age of five, inspired by almost losing her mother to an accident and a father who suggested her delving into charity to help speed her mother’s recovery , that seed would in year 2000 with the support of her parents, push her to start the Gogontlejang Phaladi Pillar of Hope Organization (GPPHO).
The organisation supports children who have been orphaned by HIV and AIDS, with Botswana having one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world — despite providing free antiretroviral treatment to all people living with HIV.
Gogontlejang Phaladi, passionate about transforming lives, championing a world free of poverty, with equity and dignity is a member of the African Union’s advisory group of humanitarian effectiveness in Africa; sits on the Botswana Presidential Task Team; and serves as a UNICEF Botswana ambassador.
She is a recipient of the Candle Light award, 2005, 2008 – Vision 2016 National Award for Pillar:. A United and Proud Nation (being the first Motswana to be awarded this kind of award), 2014, 2015, 2016 Voted to 30 Under 30 Most Influential Youth in Botswana
4. Olajumoke Oduwole , 29, Nigeria
Software Product Developer and Tech expert, Olajumoke Oduwole is Founder/ CEO KJK Communication Limited, a software design and development company that helps startups and fast growing tech companies by providing affordable solutions.
The techpreneur, a web developer by profession armed only with clarity of vision and a savings of $300 after quiting her day job in 2014 decided to found KJK Africa in order to provide small businesses access to skilled programmers and tech experts.
Just a year later, the firm had began to pick up, more hands were employed. Today the team includes 18 full-time employees.
Oduwole was listed amongst Forbes Africa #30under30.
She is the beneficiary of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, a global initiative that helps boost financial independence for women entrepreneurs.
“In the next five to 10 years, I plan to build products that will provide a tangible solution to problems faced by growing businesses in Nigeria and Africa,” she says.
“I believe it is our duty as people sharing life in this world to shape the future.
5. Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, 25, Uganda
Ugandan social entreprenuer and innovator Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa is Founder and Executive Director of Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab [Chil AI Lab].
Finding purpose; Keying from her experience as a survivor of cancer and background in the medical field, the 25 year-old decided to help secure a better tomorrow for millions of Ugandan women by providing key oncology related services through her Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab [Chil AI Lab], which is focused on employing the use of technology for early detection of cancer.
At the tender age of 13, Kaliisa lost her mother to cervical cancer, but while on her death bed, her mother had one last wish for her to become a doctor and look for a way to extend services to women like her mother who lacked key screening services in villages. Years later, while embarking on a mission to fulfill her mother’s dying wish, during her second year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery, she tested positive, luckily it was in its early stage. She got treated but lost one of her breasts to mastectomy.
Building on her experiences in 2017 she founded her company which offers mobile cancer screening as well as artificial intelligence e-oncology services. Kaliisa’s amazing work has endeared her to locals who refer to as “mama cancer.”
Forbes Africa Under 30 and Bloomberg New Economy Catalyst, Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa emerged winner of the Takeda Young Entrepreneur Award 2018. She is also a proud recipient of the Young African Entrepreneur Award 2018, Social Impact Finalist AWIEF Awards 2018, has been profiled by the Tony Elumelu Foundation amongst several accolades.