HARARE – Two Zimbabwean entrepreneurs, Shaleen Manhire Nullens and Knight Ganje, are among the top 30 successful African entrepreneurs under the age of 30, according to the latest Forbes Africa 2017.
The list features 300 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders — 30 in each of the 10 categories —who are challenging conventions and making an impact in today’s world.
Nullens, who founded a wedding planning firm, Conquered Events, and entertainment online television channel, Conquered TV, told the businessdaily that she was honoured to be part of the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list.
“I might be the founder of these promising companies but without my team giving their best and A-class results we wouldn’t be doing so well, so really a big thank you to my staff they are all achievers too,” she said.
The 29-year-old businesswoman who is based in South Africa recently invested in fuel tankers under her new company, Under Africa Petroleum with operations in Mozambique.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce 2012 businesswoman of the year nominee said she ventured into business a few years ago when she founded L’eau Choisie — a still water brand.
“I asked a friend to create a logo for free and negotiated to make payments bit by bit with suppliers. We didn’t have any machinery, we did everything manually. We didn’t even have a machine to fill the water bottles — we had to measure with our eyes. I then moved door-to-door at big shops and asked them to taste and stock my water,” Nullens said.
Meanwhile, Ganje — another Zimbabwean who is flying the country’s flag high, ventured into business more than a decade ago when he was still in his teens.
The Botswana-based entrepreneur dropped out of school to pursue his dream of running a media empire and had to look for a mentor to shape his vision.
“This was important. Without this I was just an ambitious 19-year-old with an idea and passion. In the business world it does not mean much and I think that’s why people with good ideas fail,” the 29-year-old Ganje said.
“I didn’t get any money to start this business. The idea for this business came when I was living in a tuck shop in Botswana. I went to Shoprite and I told them I run this company H&G Advertising and we could do amazing work and save them money and they gave me the work.”
Shoprite paid Ganje with a cash cheque because H&G Advertising was not a registered company yet and didn’t even have a bank account.
Today, H&G Advertising, the Botswana-based ad agency, counts Unilever, Emirates, Coca-Cola and Samsung among its clients.
The company, which operates in Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, has 80 permanent employees and 600 temporary staff and turns over $38 million a year.
“I learned that you don’t need money to start a company. You don’t need a registered company to approach people and sell your ideas. If you can register a company, do it and start selling yourself,” advises Ganje.
He didn’t stop there.
Ganje is now a serial entrepreneur that counts H&G OutDoor, H&G Activations, Zonke Ignition and H&G Express among his businesses.