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Forbes Africa 30 under 30

Who else wants to know how to make the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list?

Have you ever dreamed of being featured as one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 entrepreneurs?

Have you always wondered how those entrepreneurs get chosen?

Have you always wanted to know what it takes to make this prestigious list?

In that case, lucky you. You are an in for a treat.

We had the opportunity to ask Ancillar Mangena, the Forbes Africa journalist who compiled the list together with a selection panel, a few questions that you might always have wondered about but never had the chance to get answers you were looking for.

Forbes Africa journalist Ancillar Mangena

Every year Forbes Africa publishes the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list, one of the most prestigious lists one can make as an entrepreneur, and it creates much anticipation and excitement across the continent.

The highly competitive list highlights and rewards the work of some of the best entrepreneurs and changemakers under 30 Africa has to offer. While making the list is very difficult, it comes with great benefits such as added credibility, access to valuable networks and coverage in a wide range of media publications. 

In order to give our community members at better understanding of what it takes to compile as well as make the list we reached out to Ancillar Mangena who generously agreed to share some invaluable insights and tips.

If you are looking to make the list in 2017 or beyond read the responses carefully. You might never know how far paying attention to the information contained in this interview might take you.

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1) What does the process of identifying the 30 entrepreneurs involve? What are the major steps involved?

I spent months looking for the best, this continent has to offer. Research coupled with nominations from readers brought the number to 250 potential under 30’s. The team worked for weeks, verifying and investigating, to whittle it down. The team favoured entrepreneurs with fresh ideas and took into account their business size, location, potential, struggles and determination. A panel of judges then debated the final 30.

I asked the top 60 to send copies of their ID’s financial statements, spoke to their competitors, clients and people they have worked with in the past to understand their characters and business ethic.

2) What was the most challenging and the most fun part of producing this list?

The challenging part is finding all the information from all the possible under 30’s and vetting them to ensure they are FORBES AFRICA material. The fun part is talking to all the bright minds of Africa almost on a daily basis and see the vision they have for the continent.

3) For those who are secretly aiming at making the Forbes Africa list, what would your top 3 tips be?

Passion rewards with success. You can close any deal if you are successful

Passion rewards success. You can close any deal if you are successful. #forbesafrica30under30

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Work silently and let your work make the noise​

Work silently and let your work make the noise. #forbesafrica30under30

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Work every day towards your goal, always show up and do your best

Work every day towards your goal, always show up and do your best. #forbesafrica30under30

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4) What are the distinguishing elements between those that make the list and those narrowly missing out?

There are many factors involved. You have to meet the criteria first.

  • Must be an entrepreneur under 30 (born no later than 30 April 1987) for 2017
  • Should have a legitimate REGISTERED business in the continent
  • Business or businesses should be two years or older
  • Nominee must have risked own money and have a social impact
  • All applications must be in English

You must also have a story to tell. Something interesting that makes you stand out from the rest.

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5) How did the entrepreneurs who made the list react when they were notified of their inclusion? Any memorable reactions that stand out?

Being featured in this list is a dream come true for many entrepreneurs. It opens doors to grow the business. All of the contestants were excited. I remember Obinwanne Okeke wanted to tell his mother of the news first. Months before the publication, he had written on his blog that one day he will be featured in the magazine. He couldn’t believe he had not only made it but was on the cover of the most prestigious publication in Africa.

6) Apart from significantly increasing brand and credibility, how does being on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list benefit the entrepreneurs? How do they leverage it?

The advantages of being an under 30 are countless. They get an opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs which opens even avenues of trading with other countries and expanding the business. They also get to attend the FORBES 30 under 30 Summit in the US with all the other FORBES under 30s from around the world.

Once you have recognition from this publication, your business associates trust you more because they know you have been vetted by us. A lot more people will want to do business with you and also, all major news outlets will do interviews with you and give you an opportunity to brand further.

7) What are the main lessons other entrepreneurs can learn from the Forbes Africa entrepreneurs?

Find a niche, market your idea, work hard on it. Failure and rejection are the building blocks to success, embrace them.

Failure & rejection are the building blocks to success, embrace them says @ancillarmangena #forbesafrica30under30

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8) Over the years, have you noticed any particular trends amongst the Forbes Africa entrepreneurs?

There are very tech savvy entrepreneurs coming out of Kenya who will be billionaires of tomorrow. Entrepreneurs should concentrate on futuristic industries such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

9) When in decades to come our generation will be laid to rest, what kind of Africa should we leave behind for those that follow us?

There is one song by Beyonce called “I was here” the lyrics define the world I would like to leave behind. A world in which everyone does everything they can to leave the world a little better than they found it. Check out the lyrics. I’m sure you will love it too.

10) You have won the young journalist of the year award. How has that impacted your life?

It is humbling to get such recognition for the kind of work I would do for free. Telling African stories is my passion. I am up for the Young African journalist at the CNN Multichoice awards to be held on 15 October and I am one of the top three finalists for the Thompson Foundation Young Journalist of the year in the world to be held in London this November.

11) What is your personal leadership philosophy and what has shaped it?

Every day, try and be the best version of yourself no matter the pressures. Guide those that follow behind you and learn from those ahead. Most importantly, speak less, observe and learn.

12) You are involved in Ignite Africa. Tell us a little bit about it and your involvement in it?

I am the founder of Ignite Africa, a non-profit that aims to help young people become the best versions of themselves. We give free business seminars, training and much more. You may visit

13) What is your favourite digital tool and why?

All social media tools serve a purpose if used correctly. If I’m to choose, my favourite would be Instagram.

Forbes Africa Ancillar Mangena

Thank you Ancillar for sharing these valuable insights and tips with our community.  Best of luck for the Young African journalist CNN Multichoice awards later this month.

If you are interested in staying up to date with insights from changemakers, social entrepreneurs and innovators from across the continent sign up to our newsletter.

About the Author Rise Africa Rise

Rise Africa Rise is your online guide to tech entrepreneurship and (social) innovation for African entrepreneurs, startups and businesses. Our aim is to provide you with valuable digital strategies, tools and insights to support you in building a world-class and competitive business in the 21st century.

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