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These young innovators have changed the landscape of South African business with their unique ideas and their clear-eyed vision to see their business ideas through from plans to sweet success. They're also all working to improve the lives of South Africans, in very different ways, in their own industries.
Kobus Ehlers: SnapScan
Kobus is the founder of SnapScan, the darling of SA’s app scene, and arguably our biggest success story. Like so many local apps, SnapScan emerged out of a tech incubator, FireID, before going on to win the MTN Business App of the Year Awards in 2013.
Next, the real victory: landing a huge investment deal with blue-chip corporate Standard Bank, and swiftly becoming a household name. They mainstreamed mobile payments (especially in Cape Town) better than internationals playing at the same game, bringing on over 25 000 merchants to date, and have been featured on BBC, CNN and in Time magazine.
Dr Imogen Wright: HyraxBioSciences
Imogen is a co-founder of and algorithm developer for Cape Town-based Hyrax BioSciences, a company that builds software solutions for analysing DNA sequences quickly, affordably and with a simple, intuitive interface.
Imogen qualified as both a software developer and bioinformatician, and previously worked at Amazon. She also won the second-place prize at the African Innovation Foundation Awards (widely recognised as the top award for innovation on the continent) , for her work in developing software that helps health workers to analyse an HIV-positive patient’s responsiveness to ARV treatment. This is important since a growing number of people on ARVs are resistant to drug regimens, leading to failure of the therapy.
Laduma Ngxokolo: MAXHOSA BY LADUMA
Laduma Ngxokolo may have relocated from the Eastern Cape to London, but he has taken his heritage with him.
Image from Ventureburn
Award-winning knitwear and textile designer Laduma found inspiration in traditional Xhosa beadwork, having learnt machine-knitting from his mother, and worked to turn these strong colourful patterns into knitwear garments. In 2015, Laduma claimed the inaugural Vogue Scouting for Africa prize, earning him a spot at the international showcase of Palazzo Morando in Italy, and Africa International Fashion Week in Nigeria.
He was the recipient of the 2014 Emerging Designer of the Year Award at the African Fashion International Awards. He is also a Masters student at the University of Arts London where he studies Material Futures at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
His MAXHOSA BY LADUMA knitwear range was initially intended for Xhosa men, specifically amakrwala (initiates) to wear once they had left initiation school and swapped their childhood gear for more formal clothing signifying their status – but his eye for design has earned him fans from all walks of life, locally and internationally.
Lize Hartley: Plasta
Another entrepreneur based in Cape Town, Lize Hartley has achieved international recognition for her company Plasta, founded in 2013, which manufactures first-aid plasters that blend in with any skin tone to suit South Africa's diverse demographic. This means that people of any skin colour can choose a plaster that will be as discreet as possible. Currently available in three different colours (light, medium and dark), Plasta products are stocked across the country, in Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana, as well as in the Netherlands.
Lize told The Daily Mail: 'Plasters aren't just for medical use, they're also cosmetic. When women need a plaster ... they would rather have one that is closer to their own skin tone.
'We have had this unique situation in South Africa where the majority of the population has been marginalised in a very basic way.
'I am not saying that our tone range is anywhere near perfect, eventually I would love to extend the range of tones to six or eight, to offer something for everyone.'
How Vodacom Business helps entrepreneurs
The newly launched Business Booster from Vodacom is a solution for owners of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) who want to accelerate past their competitors into the digital age.
The app is a financial management tool that allows businesses to run anywhere, anytime and through any device.
'With Vodacom Business Booster, businesses can generate client records, quotes and invoices, conduct mobile payments*, better manage their leads through a customer relationship management solution and improve their financial management through accounting modules already built into the solution – all from a mobile device. The app also has the ability to immediately allocate expenditure receipts by scanning these with the phone’s camera, as well as generate pro-forma financial statements,' says Anthon Muller, Executive Head of Managed Enterprise Mobility at Vodacom Business.
Vodacom Business Booster’s mobile payment module is even more relevant to those small businesses who provide services on the premises of the customer, such as plumbing, pool repairs or home deliveries. The app makes Payment on Delivery (POD) possible and secure.
Business Booster is available for download from the Business Booster website at a cost of R175/month to all pre and post-paid Vodacom customers. Interested parties must register on the Vodacom Business Booster App powered by SAGE. Once registered, the app may be downloaded in Android and IOS app stores.
Terms and conditions apply.