7 Successful Youth Entrepreneurs in South Africa

Updated on 3 July 2024

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youth entrepreneurs in south africa

Youth entrepreneurship is a growing but fragile part of our economy. Most young business owners are unable to maintain and grow their businesses, however, there are some exceptional exceptions. These successful youth entrepreneurs have made waves in their respective industries.

According to the Department of Small Business Development, early-stage entrepreneurial activity currently stands at 8,9% for South African youth. This is not a great stat as it shows that there is little activity from the youth in the entrepreneurial space.

Most young people are prevented from succeeding in business by a lack of resources, funding and market opportunities.

In this article, we will look at some young entrepreneurs who have overcome some of these barriers to create thriving businesses.

1. Johnny Malepa – Malepa

Multi-award-winning creative Johnny Malepa has propelled himself into a global powerhouse. The creative professional has over seven years of experience across various industries. This includes advertising and marketing, TV & film, radio, media, music, fashion, events, and entertainment.

Through his creative agency Malepa, he has worked with international brands like Netflix, MTV and local brands like YFM, FCB Africa amongst many others. His list of awards is even more impressive, boasting titles like Grammy award, MTV Video Music Award and SAFTA award.

2. Ann-Kathrin Joos – Standard Beauty

Founder of international skincare company Standard Beauty, Ann-Kathrin Joos is making waves around the world. Joos began her company with R3000 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her inspiration was to create a skincare line that is affordable.

After listing her products on Takealot, Standard Beauty became Takealot’s 6th most-sold skincare brand. Since then, the company has expanded into European and Middle East markets.

3. Mathebe Molise – Beauty on TApp

Launched in 2015, Beauty on TApp is now the go-to store for beauty products. Most recently, Mathebe Molise launched the Pastry skincare line. According to the website, the brand was founded as a response to the growing need for a skincare brand that addresses a range of skin issues.

The locally manufactured products are popular amongst South Africans who prefer the fragrance-free range. Beauty on TApp has a store in the Mall of Africa where a range of international and local brands can be found.

4. Kgothatso Moloto – Niche Parfums

Kgothatso Moloto is the founder of the artisanal perfume company Niche Parfums. The company has made waves with its unique and luxury fragrances. According to the website, the fragrances are manufactured abroad using the best ingredients.

The company stands out not only through its fragrances but also its other products. The company also has scented candles, room diffusers and car diffusers. Niche Parfums has a store in Parkhurst and products can be ordered online.

5. Ayanda Vabaza-Mvandaba – Drink Nil

Non-alcoholic drink company ‘Drink Nil’ has seen exceptional growth. The company has provided its beverages for festivals, events and develops tasting and pairing menus.

Featured in the 2024 Mail & Guardians 200 young South Africans, Vabza-Mvandaba is also a consultant at Kwandiso Consulting and works with unemployed youth through the Youth Bridge Programme.

6. Daniel Noviktas – Specno

Founder of tech start-up Specno, Daniel Noviktas is a tech enthusiast. His company Specno specialises in building tech solutions for business and entrepreneurs. These include app designing, app development, and UX/UI audit and redesign amongst many others,

The company has worked with retailers Pep and SparUK. It has also worked with Old Mutual for mobile app development and did a UX/UI audit and redesign for Ackermans.

7. Anje Yamo Nene – Nenes Franchise

Featured in this year’s Mail & Guardian 200 young South Africans, Anje Yamo Nene is the founder of Nenes franchise. The company offers kasi kotas with its own unique twist. The company started selling its food in trailers but has quickly moved into malls.

Currently, Nene has six branches in Midrand, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Most recently the company began licensing its brand for franchising, showing exponential growth in a short period.

These young entrepreneurs have set the standard for building successful businesses. The companies are in a variety of industries, including food and beverages, technology, fragrance, beauty and skincare and creative.

These young entrepreneurs are not the only ones who are successful. There are many others who might not have had recognition yet. You can visit your nearest entrepreneur and ask them for tips and mentorship on how to become a successful entrepreneur.

For more successful youth entrepreneur stories, visit the SME South Africa website. If you need mentorship, you can book an appointment with one of our experts on the advice page.

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