10 South African Entrepreneurs under 35 (2/2)

Last week, I published the first post in this two part series: 10 South African Entrepreneurs under 35 to watch for (click here to read it).

Here are the remaining 5 entrepreneurs who I have been following closely and who have achieved great success at a young age:

Vusi Thembekwayo (27) – @VusiSpeaker

Vusi ThembekwayoNot only is he among the most outstanding keynote and motivational speakers in the world but he is also a formidable businessman. At the age of 17, Vusi was ranked 1st in Africa for public speaking. At 21 he ran his own successful consulting firm (then South Africa’s only black-owned Forensic Marketing agency). By 23, Vusi was an executive at one of the largest consumer goods businesses in Africa. At 25 years-old he was the youngest director of a multi-national turning over R17bn a year, where he served on the operations board. And today at 27, he is the Managing Director of MOTIV8 Advisory – a specialist consulting and services agency & serves on the board of international consulting firm Black Sheep Advisory as well as the founding Partner of Speakers BootCamp (S.A). Uhm… That’s Vusi.

Yossi Hasson (30) – @yossihasson

Yossi HassonI heard Yossi speak for the first time about a year ago and was inspired by his story. Yossi is the co-founder and Managing Director of SYNAQ, a company he started in 2004 with an old school friend. When I was doing research on Yossi for this article, I found many interviews and stories. All telling how successful he is at a young age, but when he told his own story, it wasn’t always an easy ride. They struggled as a service business, had to make difficult decisions and transformed the business into one selling products. Since then it has become a prominent company and attracted the attention of big players in the ISP market with Internet Solutions acquiring 50% of the business in 2011. SYNAQ was also ranked as the 6th fastest growing company in South Africa by AllWordNetwork in 2011. Definitely a tech entrepreneur to look out for!

Jonathan Liebmann (28) – @Propertuity

Jonathan LiebmannHis name might not ring a bell, but if you are from Johannesburg, then you will definitely know of the Maboneng Precinct, a thriving cultural district in the east side of Johannesburg’s CBD. Jonathan is the man behind this project. He is a South African real estate developer and CEO of Propertuity. Propertuity is a South African Real Estate development company and the brains behind the construction of the Maboneng Precinct. Once a neglected and deteriorating neighborhood housing abandoned industrial complexes, Jonathan transformed Maboneng into a vibrant urban mixed-use community complete with art galleries, retail spaces, offices and artist studios. An entrepreneur who has changed the biggest city in Africa, forever!

Ashley Uys (29) – @AshleyTUys

Ashley UysAshley is the founder of Medical Diagnostech, a company that develops and markets affordable and reliable medical test kits for malaria, pregnancy, syphilis, malaria and HIV/Aids for Africa’s rural poor. The company’s Malaria test kit can reportedly detect all strains of malaria and indicate within 30 minutes whether the malaria treatment provided is effective. Far more significant is that each test kit costs R4, effectively bringing reliable malaria diagnosis into the hands of millions of people for whom living with the threat of the illness is an everyday reality. There is no doubt that this company is set for huge success.

Brent Kairuz (33)

Brent KairuzI met Brent back in 2011 when they had just done a deal with Famous Brands. Even then it was clear that Brent isn’t your ordinary businessman. Most of the entrepreneurs featured in this article are in the tech industry but when I was reading up on Brent, I couldn’t find a single profile of him on the net, couldn’t find him on Twitter or Facebook, nothing. This man just does business without all the fuss going around and a living example that there are still massive opportunities outside of cyberspace. Today, Brent is the Managing Executive of Creative Coffee Franchising. Brent started his career by founding a company called Kairuz Corporation in 1998 (later became known as Kairuz Holdings). In 2011, Famous Brands and Kairuz Holdings formed a new joint venture partnership under a new company, Creative Coffee Franchising, which controls all the Kairuz Cafés, Coffee Couture, Juicy Lucy and House of Coffees franchised brands. Don’t know how to keep an eye on this guy, but if you can, you’ll be amazed.

Updated: Dino Covotsos (30)

Dino CovotsosAfter posting the original list, a reader, Sbu Dlamini, commented below that Dino Covotsos was left out and deserved a place on this list. I recently started working with Dino and Sbu was right, Dino is a great young entrepreneur and had to be on – so here’s number 11: Dino Covotsos. Dino was 19 years old and founded Telspace Systems. At the time, he had a broken desktop and no money and he started Telspace Systems with no capital. Today, this company is a leader in the cyber security space, provides services to some of South Africa’s top listed companies and banks and Dino a well established young entrepreneur.

There is no doubt that these and other South African entrepreneurs are making a massive change in South Africa. With our very high unemployment rate, entrepreneurs will be a vital ingredient for the future of this country. Personally I would love to see government making a more drastic effort to encourage entrepreneurship in South Africa and reduce all the red tape of running a business in this country.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below.

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  • Rebone Mofulatsi
    June 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm — Reply

    Sucks that there isn’t a single woman on this list. Something’s got to change.

    • Marnus (Author)
      June 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm — Reply

      I got this comment from a number of people. Personally I dont know any super successful female entrepreneurs below 35, but I will do some research and will do a blogpost soon. 🙂

  • Rebone Mofulatsi
    June 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    But ja… I agree with the call to get government to encourage entrepreneurship more intentionally and vigorously. There’s so much that lies within so many of our citizens, that can make major waves if unleashed. But our people often don’t know what options they have available to them… what actually exists in the world out there.

    There isn’t much one can do without having a dream… And dreams often spring up from seeds of hope. And since there isn’t much to hope for if you don’t know that it’s even possible for things to be different, our people feel trapped and don’t try out new ventures. So ja.
    For starters… Before we get to issues of funding and red tape… I think we need to let people dream by instilling them with knowledge… Knowledge about the world, what’s in it, and the kind of people who have shaped it: ordinary, everyday people. That’ll show us all that it’s possible. That we can. Then we’ll at least try. Red tape issues are relatively #FirstWorldProblems when compared to a lack of education/knowledge/dreams.

    • Marnus (Author)
      June 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm — Reply

      Thank you so much for this comment Rebone. It definitely made me think and you are right – we have a lot of work to do! We have a responsibility to inspire and educate!

  • Nqobile Lekhuleni
    August 13, 2013 at 9:16 am — Reply

    Wow, it is amazing and inspiring to see what young South Africans are doing for themselves, however I am also a little concern that there is not a single lady in this list, but as an aspiring business lady, I am inspired to work even harder to reach such heights, and yes, I totally agree that the govenment needs to give more efforts in encouraging more people to explore the business world

  • Sbu dlamini
    October 30, 2013 at 7:44 am — Reply

    I have heard of a few of these gentlemen but I feel some were left out such Dino Covotsos owner of telspace his does cyber security an more. Simphiwe Gumede Works with his father Robert Gumede huge deals his closed Tariq Yusif owner of the Tara Klamp just to name a few young men we look up too cause they doing it.

    • Mafane Nkobile
      August 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm — Reply

      I agree with Sbu, those names mentioned are people we look up to in Sandton and JHB… Dino , Sim, Rob, Tariq and more such as Mike Roffey. Dont think this list does too much justice!

  • Peter Dijkstra
    November 19, 2014 at 9:57 am — Reply

    I will be most surprised If you are not motivated to contact me once you have viewed the content of the video. Need an email from you to send the link

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