3 Inspiring Entrepreneurs to Watch in a Challenging World

UPDATED June 19, 2019 03:28 pm .

Francis Cordor
June 19, 2019 03:28 pm

Being an entrepreneur is almost always challenging. It takes vision, drive, and a never-quit attitude. Even with these qualities, obstacles interfere with progress — or stop it all together. Most enjoy the challenge, but some have more obstacles to overcome than others. For example, what may be relatively easy to accomplish in one country can be nearly impossible in others. Gender can be a significant obstacle as can access to basic resources or services. With the challenges of entrepreneurship in mind, here are three entrepreneurs who are inspiring us today.

Mavis Nduchwa, Botswana, Africa

A recent study by Expert Market compared the number of new businesses in each of 130 countries with each country’s ease of launching a new business to determine which countries had the most determined entrepreneurs. Botswana topped the list. Barriers to entrepreneurship in Botswana include a lack of money and training, and a notoriously time-consuming process to register a new business. For female entrepreneurs, lack of access to land in a patriarchal government is also perceived as a barrier.

How We Made it in Africa details the story of Mavis Nduchwa. Nduchwa could have stayed on a conventional, professional path. After all, she has a degree in both real estate and hospitality management. She has also worked as a journalist. A career in any of those fields would be a respectable choice.

But she had a passion, agriculture, and saw a need she could fulfill at the same time. She lived the farm life as a child, and had always been interested in agriculture. As an adult, she noticed the farming community struggling with the high cost of imported agricultural inputs. What if locally produced animal feed could be used instead?

In 2011, she and her husband launched Chabana Farms, growing it into a successful enterprise on 247 acres. Chabana Farms produces grains and legumes destined to become animal feed. With a full-time staff of 10, Chabana Farms often takes in up to $1.5 million over a good rainy season. Moreover, Chabana Farms was recently awarded a government contract worth $2 million to supply judo beans to the local market.

Why We’re Inspired

We’re in awe because not only has Nduchwa built a thriving agribusiness in a semi-arid climate and challenging business environment (and against societal norms), but also because she is actively cultivating something else: other women entrepreneurs in Botswana.

Chabana Farms, which also produces poultry and eggs, offers unemployed single mothers six weeks of training in how to manage a poultry business. This training prepares them for starting their own businesses.

Adeniyi Makanjuola, Nigeria, Africa

Recently named as one of the Top 7 Inspiring Young African Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017 by Forbes.com, Adeniyi Makanjuola has been involved in the founding of various businesses across the financial, aviation, oil and gas, environmental utilities, and energy sectors.

This young entrepreneur has always been fascinated with aeronautics. However, his education is in finance and urban planning and development. Makanjuola earned his financial degree from University of Essex and a Master’s of Science degree in Urban Planning and Development from the University College London.

While pursuing his passion and learning to fly, Makanjuola saw an opportunity in the onshore helicopter services market back home in Nigeria — and Caverton Helicopters was born. This business changed the oil and gas industry in Africa. Today, Caverton Helicopters has the largest fleet of modern helicopters in sub-Saharan Africa and dominates the market with 80 percent market share.

Caverton Helicopters is one of four African members of the global advisory board for the offshore helicopter industry known as HeliOffshore, previously the exclusive domain of huge multi-billion dollar US corporations.

Why We’re Inspired

Countries like Nigeria and Liberia have an enormous brain drain problem, and we get it. However, we love to see African entrepreneurs return to their home countries to make their futures, and in large part the futures of their countries, brighter.

Patrick E. Ngowi, Tanzania

At age 15, Patrick E. Ngowi founded Helvetic Group with just $50. That company, which is a group of several diversified companies, is now worth over $8 million.

Ngowi studied renewable energy in China and then launched his first clean technology company. Helvetic Solar Contractors is notable for being the first company in Northern Tanzania to offer solar solutions.

All of the above is impressive indeed, and Ngowi has been honored extensively for his accomplishments.

Why We’re Inspired

Like the United Nations and others who have honored him, we are inspired by Ngowi’s story and rise to success. However, we are also inspired by his Light for Life Foundation which he launched in 2012 with a mission of “giving back to the community, the economy and the environment.” The Light for Life Foundation has donated more than 1,000 Helvetic solar kits to women and youth in off-grid communities in Tanzania. These solar kits enable recipients, who previously lacked power or an easy way to recharge their mobile phones, the opportunity to establish new businesses and income. Light for Life Foundation has set a goal of distributing 100,000 of these solar kits.

From locally produced animal feed to helicopters and clean energy, these three amazing entrepreneurs saw an opportunity and went for it!

Featured Photo: Mavis Nduchwa, Botswana. Courtesy of UN Africa Renewal

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