Sunday, April 14, 2024

6 Kenyans among Africa’s top 30 most inspirational young people

6 Kenyans among Africa’s top 30 most inspirational young people
6 Kenyans among Africa’s top 30 most inspirational young people

We are always inspired by stories of young people doing remarkable work in their countries to facilitate development in the lives of people in their communities and throughout the continent. This year’s list identifies young Africans, mostly below 30 years of age, who are prominent in their areas of activism or fields of expertise and are coming up with innovative ways to address some of the challenges faced by the continent.

Kelvin Doe-Sierra Leone

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Kelvin Doe (16) is a self-taught engineer from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Out of metal and wire scraps he made a battery to “power lights in people’s houses,” an FM radio transmitter to disseminate news and a generator to power the device. Doe became the youngest invitee to the Visiting Practitioner’s Program for international development.

Esther Mbabazi- Rwanda

Esther Mbabazi was eight years old when her father was killed in a crash as the plane he was flying in overshot the runway landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So when, a few years later she announced her intention to train as a pilot, the plan was not well received by some of her family. But at the age of 24, Mbabazi has made history as the first female Rwandan pilot.

Ludwick Marishane – South Africa

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Ludwick Marishane is the founder of DryBath, the world’s first germicidal Bath-substituting skin lotion/gel. It is easy to use and needs minimal water for use. Just apply DryBath to your skin and you’re done! You no longer need a bath! It moisturises the skin, kills germs, and leaves the user smelling fresh. He was rated as the best student entrepreneur in the world (Global Champion of the Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards 2011). He is the country’s youngest patent-holder after having invented DryBath. Google named him as one of the 12 brightest young minds in the world in 2011.

Grace Ihejiamaizu – Nigeria

Grace Ihejiamaizu is an entrepreneur and Global Changemaker . In 2010, she founded an after-school youth project, Raising Young Productive Entrepreneurs (RYPE) Initiative. Through RYPE, more than 350 young people have been trained, engaged and empowered.Grace’s outstanding leadership skills has earned her some national and international recognition including being named one of Google’s 12 Brightest Young Minds in 2011, and the recognition by US State Department as ‘International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month for September 2012’. She was also selected as one of the top 60 Global ChangeMakers in 2012. At only 22 years, she has just started a Social Enterprise company, iKapture Networks, which provides educational services and products to secondary and post-secondary students in Nigeria.She is also the founder and content creator of the fast-growing online platform,, with more than 100,000 visitors monthly from over 160 countries across the world.

Evans Wadongo -Kenya

Evans Wadongo is a Kenyan engineer, the Executive Director and Chairman of SDFA-Kenya, and one of CNN’s top ten heroes of 2010. Evans designed a solar lamp which he calls ‘MwangaBora (Swahili for “Good Light”) in 2004 as a way to address poor education, climate change, health and poverty in rural areas in Kenya. Evans named the entire project ‘Use Solar, Save Lives’ as he aimed to use solar technology as a way to save lives in the poor communities he grew up in.Wadongo was named one of three recipients of the inaugural Mikhail Gorbachev Awards for “The Man Who Changed the World.”Evans was a finalist at the inaugural Innovation Prize for Africa held in Addis Ababa in 2012. He also received the African International Achievers Award in 2012.

Bewa Joannie- Benin

Joannie BEWA is currently working as a general practitioner in a community health center in her country BENIN. She holds many leadership positions in BENIN and is well known at global level. She is the co-founder and the Executive director of Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA), created after the President OBAMA Young African leaders forum. In 2010, she also initiated “Red-Ribbon Campaign”, which was a campaign to educate the population about HIV AIDS issues. In the first six months following the campaign, she led a training program on sexual and reproductive health, reaching to various Beninese communities, including sex workers. 10 000 Youth were reached at national level. In 2012, she designed a project called “Women’s Empowerment Campaign” which was funded through the First Lady Michelle Obama program for Young African Women Leaders. The “Women’s Empowerment Campaign” was implemented through capacities building and mentoring sessions for 2,500 girls and 400 young women entrepreneurs. Her activism was recognized by US Government who selected her in 2012 for the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program under the President OBAMA Young African Leader program. Recently, she is appointed as the first female president of the US Ambassador’s Youth Council in Benin.

Joel Mwale- Uganda

After falling ill with dysentery, Joel Mwale decided to do something about the lack of clean drinking water in his village. With a small bit of money he had saved and the knowledge of physics he had acquired at school, Joel built a borehole on some community farmland.Joel launched Skydrop Enterprises, a producer and bottler of low-cost purified drinking water. Joel has sold as many as 10,000 bottles of Skydrop Enterprises water in a single month, and his profits have paid school fees for his siblings and put food on his mother’s table. He employs three people full-time at his rural production facility, and Skydrop Enterprises bottled water can be purchased as far away as Kampala, Uganda.

NoViolet Bulawayo- Zimbabwe

Bulawayo was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She and attended Njube High School and later Mzilikazi High School for her A levels. She later completed her college education in USA , obtaining earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce and Southern Methodist University .In 2010, she completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Cornell University, her amazing work was recognized with a Truman Capote Fellowship. In 2011 she won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Hitting Budapest” it’s a film about a gang of street children in a Zimbabwean shantytown. Her novel entitled We Need New Names was scheduled to be released 21 May 2013, and she has also begun working on a memoir project.

William Kamkwamba- Malawi

Is a Malawian inventor and author. He rose to fame in his country when he built a windmill to power some electrical appliances ah their family house back in 2002. He used blue gum trees, bicycle parts and some parts collected from the local scrap yard. He later built a solar- powered water pump that was used to supply the 1st drinking water in his village. Having to drop out of school due to lack of funds Kamwamba took part in Maker Faire Africa in Ghana 2009. He is one of the four recipients of the 2010 GO Ingenuity award. In 2007 He entered a 2 year academic program combining the Cambridge University A-levels with Leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. He later went to study at Dartmouth College class of 2014. William wrote his autobiography “The boy who harnessed the wind” which was published worldwide.

Toyosi Akerele- Nigeria

Toyosi is the founder of Nigeria’s first and most prominent youth interest organization, RISE, is a consummate young professional and outstanding Manager. Toyosi’s is also a Public Speaker, Youth Advocate and Entrepreneur. She was selected as part of 101 young African Leaders to be delegates to the African Business Leaders’ Forum. A multiple award winner, “The Best Use of Youth Advocacy Category at the 2008 edition of Nigeria’s Boldest & Brightest Youth Achievement Awards and the Future Awards of which she has been nominated 5 consecutive Years. In 2011, Toyosi was invited as a Consultant and Strategist on the Federal Government Project tagged “Bring Back the Book”, an initiative with the aim to encourage Young Nigerians to cultivate a Reading Culture. She was a finalist for the category of Business Owner of the Year at the 6th Season of The Future Nigeria Awards.Toyosi is a worthy alumnus of the United States Government’s Prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program for emerging African Youth Leaders. Toyosi Akerele was in June 2011 described by Mrs Michelle Obama the First Lady of the United States of America as one of her personal inspirations

Thulani Madondo- South Africa

Madondo is a founder of the Kliptown Youth Programme (KYP) and its chairperson, the organisation provides meals for children, support with school fees, after-school care as well as educational help and tutoring to about 400 disadvantaged children from the Kliptown area. Today the organisation has also made it possible for 18 youths to get tertiary education. Madondo was one of 10 finalists for the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year award, an annual campaign which honours everyday people doing good deeds in their communities.

Fanele Chester- Swaziland

Fanele Chester is an African business, development and technology enthusiast. She is social commentator who has gathered extensive experience in and about African development during her time working with her native Swaziland’s chamber of commerce and through her research. She is the founder of the websites and Meet Africa’s Finest, both of which are encyclopedias of thought leadership on trends and cutting edge commentary on Africa’s development. She is currently working on her latest start-up, Inspired Young Minds, an education-focused initiative whose mission is developing leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship skills and mindsets among primary and high school students in rural and isolated communities across Africa. She is also serves as an adviser for a education-based tech start-up in Kenya, and as well as helping to edit a collection of essays by Desmond Tutu Fellows, which will be published by The African Leadership Initiative later this year. She is also the former founder and editor of Fashion Et Al (, a website dedicated to providing high level commentary on the business of fashion for African designers across the world, which has racked up over 120,000 hits to date. Fanele Chester is a Romance Languages & Literatures in French major from the University of Chicago Class of 2013, and a graduate of Red Cross Nordic United World College Class of 2008.

Dayo Israel – Nigeria

Dayo Israel is an astute motivational speaker and advisor to many world leaders, business executive, politicians, young entrepreneur and sports professionals. He is also an internationally recognized personality with over 12years of professional experience in international development having worked with organisations such as The United Nations, British Council, Save the Children UK, UNICEF, in various capacities and has appeared on countless television interviews, commercials, talk shows, radio programs, and was even selected by the United Nations to represent all the young delegates to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children on a special CNN Live Interview. Recently, He was specially invited by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to a private reception at Buckingham palace.He is one of the Africa’s leading authorities on Social Entreprise and Youth Development. He co-launched the UNICEF State of the World Children’s Report in 2003 alongside Carol Bellamy and Oscar Award Winner – Vanessa Redgrave CBE. He is the first African to become a Student Council Chair in London’s Largest University and a recipient of so many International Awards which includes the British Red Cross Humanitarian Citizen Award, PEWA (Person Earnestly Working for Africa) Award, GAB Award, Icon Awards, Icon of Hope Award, Young Achievers Award and many more.

Ory Okolloh-Kenya

Ory Okolloh a Kenyan activist, lawyer, and blogger. She is currently a Policy Manager for Africa with Google. In 2006 she co-founded the parliamentary watchdog site Mzalendo (Patriot). The site sought to increase government accountability by systematically recording bills, speeches, MPs, standing orders, etc. She helped Kenya create Ushahidi (Witness) website in due to the violence that was taking place in 2007. The website was used to record and report any reports on violence by using text messages and Google maps. This Technology is now been adapted in a number of countries. Ory Okolloh also worked as a legal consultant for NGOs and has worked at Covington and Burling, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and the World Bank in the past. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Political science from University of Pittsburgh and Graduated from Harvard Law School in 2005.

Gilmore Moyo- Zimbabwe

Gilmore T. Moyo is a 23 year old Global Citizen, born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He is the Founder & Managing Editor of Deck Magazine and also a member of the British Council Global Changemakers International Network. Gilmore has been involved in the Global arts & cultural industry since the age of 16 & is the Founder/CEO of Zimbabwe’s arts and branding management company, Hunnar Management Agency. He has sat on international panels and has contributed greatly in the sustainability of the creative industries of Zimbabwe as a whole. He boasts working with Alliance Francaise, Civic World, Tallberg Forum, UNESCO and British Council, amongst many international establishments. Gilmore Tee holds Diplomas in French, Development Studies and Leadership. He is involved in a lot of artistic programs across the world and was recently listed as the Worlds Most Influential Young People 2013 by UK Magazine – Eduzine. Gilmore Tee is simply an Arts Practitioner.

Deborah Ahenkorah- Ghana

Deborah Ahenkorah is the co-founder and executive director of Golden Baobab which is renowned for its annual Golden Baobab Literary Prize. She created this prize with one mission in mind: to inspire African writers to create stories for young readers. In the past four years, this literary award has inspired the creation of over 850 children and young adult stories from 15 countries. Deborah has been recently named by the Echoing Green Fellowship as one of twenty-two of the most “game changing social innovators in the world today.” In 2011, she was identified by Playing for Change as one of Ghana’s leading social entrepreneurs working to make the world a better place for children and youth. Deborah studied political science at Bryn Mawr College and pursued her passion for global issues by gaining experience in the European Union Parliament and The Global Fund for Children. Her current mission is to ensure that in the next ten years young people in Africa and the African diaspora have a consistent supply of stellar African literature. Deborah is a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.

Kariuki Gathitu- Kenya

Having been in the banking industry, Kariuki saw the difficulties that people have when it comes to payments and especially mobile payments. This led to the birth of MPAYER, his mobile money management system, has been widely acknowledged and received awards for innovation. MPAYER recently won second position in a global competiton held in south Africa called Dragons Den and was the best application in Africa and second in the world among 50 top startups globally. MPAYER is having great impact in the SME space in Kenya, allowing small businesses to build strong scalable businesses. Kariuki is passionate about innovation, technology and business. He is also involved in youth advocacy and from time to time travels around the continent speaking to young people about entrepreneurship. He has worked with the African union, the World Bank and even governments in this capacity.

Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin, and Bello Eniola- Nigeria

At the age of 14 and 15 years old, Four Nigerian students have shown their innovative sides by developing a Urine Powered Generator. The generator produces six hours of power for one litre of urine. They displayed their invention at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, an annual event meant to showcase ingenuity.

Ashish thakkar-Rwanda

Born in the United Kingdom, Ashish and his family moved back to Africa after surviving the historic Rwandan genocide and generational exile of African families. He grew up in the UK and Uganda and now lives in Dubai.In 1996, Ashish borrowed $6,000 to start his first IT Company that’s when he bought and sold computers. Within a year, he transitioned from a high school student to a full time entrepreneur. In a span of 15 years, Ashish J. Thakkar built a conglomerate of IT, real estate and manufacturing companies with operations in 26 countries and employing over 7,000 people worldwide.

He has also been appointed on the advisory panels to several heads of state in sub-Saharan Africa and is also a team member of the Commonwealth Business Council and COMESA. Ashish has been profiled by several publications and media outlets including Forbes, The Economist, CNN, Africa Business Journal, Ventures Africa, San Jose Mercury, Reuters and the BBC.The culmination of Ashish J. Thakkar’s business achievements has been instituting Mara Foundation, the nonprofit social enterprise of Mara Group which focuses on emerging African entrepreneurs..In the near future, Ashish J. Thakkar will represent East Africa on Virgin Galactic’s mission into space, thereby making him Africa’s second astronaut.

Hadeel Ibrahim- Tanzania

Hadeel Ibrahim is the founding Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which was established in 2006 to support great African leadership. She is a member the Boards of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ), Carter Center UK, Refugees International and the Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development (UONGOZI Institute) in Tanzania. Hadeel is a Patron of Restless Development, a youth led development agency. She previously spent time with the Africa Section of Actis Private Equity Investors and with EMP Africa.

Boniface Mwangi- Kenya

Boniface Mwangi is an award winning Kenyan photographer and photo-activist. Boniface is the Project Director of Picha Mtaani, which is a mobile photo exhibition held in towns across Kenya, showcasing photographs of the post-election violence that rocked various parts of the country in 2007/08. Picha Mtaani has reached over 500,000 individuals and plans to develop an online platform that will use photography as a catalyst for social change across East Africa. Boniface has worked as a photojournalist for the Standard, and has worked as a freelancer for Bloomberg, the AFP, Reuters, the Boston Globe, as well as a number of other media outlets. He holds a Diploma in Print Journalism from the East African School of Journalism, and has been recognized as a TED Fellow and twice as the CNN Multichoice Africa Photojournalist of the Year.

Michael Mulunga- Namibia

After observing the poor conditions that the youth in Namibia lived with, Michael decided to work youths from one of the poorest communities in his region to start a poultry project as part of them generating an income for themselves. Michael is  one of more than 100 young African leaders from 45 countries who were invited to the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders August 3-5 in Washington. He was also a Google’s Zeitgeist Young Minds 2011 Winner.

Eddy Gicheru Oketch- Kenya

Eddy Gicheru Oketch is the Kenyan born founder and Trustee of PAD ( PAD is a youth leadership, peace-building and enterprise incubator that established youth economic empowerment projects and develop African Peace Ambassadors in the continent. PAD has established 20 influential youth groups, income-generation projects and reached about 250,000 young people in Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda in this youth peace-building strategy. Such projects include agricultural projects for young people to bolster their income, escape poverty and avoid negative participation in conflicts. Eddy is also a Global Changemaker with the British Council who has participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa twice as a discussion leader and was a panel discussion leader in the May 2012 G8 summit, a platform addressed by President Barrack Obama and accomplished world leaders such as Hon. Hillary Clinton and Irish rock star Paul David Hewson (Bono). He was a 2012 participant in the Washington DC Clinton Global Initiative University and at a young age, he is a trained UNESCO International Youth Peace Ambassador in Penang Malaysia who also consults for the MasterCard Foundation head leadership in Toronto Canada on youth entrepreneurship and engagement strategy

Sandra Appiah-Ghana

When Sandra Appiah, 23, with her partner Isaac Boateng met in New York City and discovered they shared similar challenges in accepting their African heritage, the two decided to team up and attempt to rebrand their continent’s image by sharing the positive stories being left untold. Through their biannual publication Face 2 Face Africa magazine, which just published its premiere issue, Appiah, who serves as editor-in-chief, and Boateng, the magazine’s publisher, cover everything from politics to lifestyle, entertainment, African fashion and beauty, and issues facing the latest generation coming out of the African diaspora and across the globe.


Richard Turere- Kenya

He is the innovator behind ‘Lion Lights’ which are flashing lights set up around a perimeter facing outwards; which are used to scare away lions. Richard devised ‘Lion Lights’ to prevent night attacks by lions on his family’s cattle herd, which was located in Kitengela on the unfenced south side of Nairobi National Park, in Kenya. These types of attacks often lead to the hunting and killing of the lions, which are endangered. After his innovation the lion attacks ceased and soon neighbours were asking for him to set up similar systems around their farms. The cattle were also calmer because the lights meant that they could see the land around was safe.

Foglabenchi Lily Haritu- Cameroon

Lily Haritu is the youngest individual to reach the position of program supervisor in the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services. She has demonstrated an outstanding  commitment to reproductive and sexual health rights education and rights promotion particularly through her work with stationary and rural mobile clinics across Cameroon. This work has accelerated development efforts in maternal and child health promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Lily has empowered women to negotiate safer sex practices and has increased access to sexual education and counselling for young adolescent girls. She was also a finalist for the Commonwealth Youth Awards or Excellence in Development Work.

Brian Bwesigye- Uganda

Brian Bwesigye was born in 1987 in Kigezi, south-western Uganda. He studied Law at Makerere University and Human Rights at Central European University- Budapest. He is co-founder of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence (CACE), which seeks to harness the role of culture and the arts in improving society. He also teaches in the School of Liberal and Performance Arts and Faculty of Law at Makerere and Busoga universities respectively.Bwesigye’s non-fiction and literary work has appeared in literary and academic journals, websites, magazines, national newspapers and in other places, including the Uganda Modern Literary Digest, New Black Magazine, Saraba and Readers Cafe Africa among others. His book, Fables out of Nyanja, a collection of short fictional rhythmic narratives of childhood is published by Kushinda (2012). He is presently a Theatre Fellow at the D&F Academy, Hamburg, Germany.

Simon Ssenkaayi- Uganda

Simon Ssenkaayi, is a Rotarian, a youth advocate, passionate leader and motivational and inspirational speaker. He has advanced training in advocacy from Turkey, sustainable youth-led development from UAE, SME management from China.A graduate with an MBA with great focus on marketing management and strategy. He has previously worked with Youth for Human Rights International (Uganda Chapter), Germany Foundation for world population (Dsw_Bonita), Save the Children Uganda, Uganda Red Cross Society, Young Empowered and Health initiative for and by young people under Uganda Aids Commission funded by USAID, Winsor Development Consultants, Ministry of Youth Buganda Kingdom, Founder and Senior trainer of Global Empowerment Link and other NGOs. He is currently the National Director World Faith International – Uganda Chapter, Alumni of the 5th World Youth Congress Istanbul-Tuurkey, Democratic Party Youth Leader – Makindye Sub-County, Business Trainer on CBS FM and RADIO TWO Kampala ,Buganda Youth Council and Community Mobiliser – Ministry of Youth, Buganda Kingdom

Erasmus Mweene- Zambia

Erasmus Mweene’s work revolves around Social Entrepreneurship and activism on youth empowerment, HIV/AIDS, Gender-Based Violence and Sustainable Development. He is the founder of a youth-led and non-profit organization known as Youth Activism for Change (YAfC). He is currently serving as Zambia’s National Focal Point for the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), and he is also an ambassador for the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN). In 2012,his project won as the best suggested employment creation project at the Rhodes Youth Forum held on the Rhodes Island, Greece.

Fungai Machirori- Zimbabwe

Fungai Machirori is a Zimbabwean new media activist who runs a personal blog and has recently launched a Zimbabwean women’s web platform, Her Zimbabwe. Fungai’s personal blog (‘Fungai Neni’ online at tackles personal and social challenges from an intimate, provocative and gendered perspective and has been awarded accolades including runner-up at the prestigious World Youth Summit Awards in 2011. Her Zimbabwe (online at is a dynamic new platform for Zimbabwean women to articulate and celebrate the complexity and diversity of their feminine identities. Source: YVAFRICA

6 Kenyans among Africa’s top 30 most inspirational young people

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