From ice-cream, sneakers and farming – these 5 black entrepreneurs under 30 will inspire you.

Youth Day (16 June) marks a historical day in South Africa – to commemorate the youth of 1976 because we are where we are as a country today because of them, their bravery and sacrifice.

Fast forward more than 30 years later, this fighting spirit lives on in the lives of many youth that are trailblazing and thriving even with challenges or life’s unexpected problems.

The South African youth has always found ways to break the glass ceiling, to start something new and challenge not only themselves but other youth in the process.

Here are five people under the age of 30 who will inspire you today.

1.       READ | Founder of vegan ice-cream brand Sinenhlanhla Ndlela on how her business survived lockdown

Sinenhlanhla Ndlela (27), is the owner and founder of Yococo, SA’s most-sought-after vegan ice-cream brand. Sinenhlanhla left her job in TV production to pursue a life making and serving vegan ice cream, without having owned or managed a business before, or knowing anything about the product she wanted to sell. They have also recently launched a new initiative: providing groceries to child-headed homes and homes with people with disabilities.

“I didn’t know anything about making ice cream. I only knew how I wanted it to taste.”

 

2.       READ | Entrepreneur Theo Baloyi on making over R18m selling sneakers

There's no business like a shoe business – especially when those shoes grace the feet of celebrities earn you a R18,5 million turnover in just three years and are your number-one passion in life. Theo has always been a sneakerhead but working in fashion was never a goal for him, which led him to give rise to his “baby” - Bathu, a colourful range of sneakers with a distinctive mesh fabric and thick white soles.

“I’ve found my purpose and that’s what makes me really confident in what I do.”

 

3.       READ | Khayelitsha man invents affordable lamps to help learners study at night

Many hands make light work, the old saying goes – but this simple, innovative creation by a Cape Town inventor shows that sometimes all it takes is one pair of hands to make the light work. Growing up in a house in Khayelitsha without a ceiling meant when he studied late into the night the light flooded into every room, keeping his family awake when they needed to be up early the next day and now Siphaandla Ntshewula (21) is on a mission to light up township homes with a smart lamp made from recycled two-litre soft drink bottles and fabric off-cuts.

“At the course I developed my power. At first I felt scared and thought I was too young to make a difference, but I learnt that I could do it and I went for it.”

Siphamandla
Siphamandla Ntshewula (21) from Khayelitsha, Cape Town

4.       READ | SA's youngest farmer on creating his legacy

While most of his peers pass their time on social media, he spends his days on horseback in a secluded area in the North West that has barely any network coverage. Thabo Dithakgwe is by no means an average teenager – the young man from Vryburg is revolutionizing the agricultural landscape. At 19 he’s making a name for himself as the country’s youngest livestock farmer.

“I’ve never been on holiday,” Thabo says. “When my friends went on vacation, I would be on the farm so if there’s something I’d like to do it would be to go on holiday. “For now, though, I’m focused on growing my business.”

 
Thabo Dithakgwe
Thabo Dithakgwe and his father own Constable Farm near Pomfret.

5.         5. READ |  ‘Being laid off during lockdown helped me kick-start my dream business – a nursery’

While lockdown may have not been ideal for many of us who have had to stay put with not much to do, Mpumelelo Nzama saw an opportunity to start something that would change her life. The 30 year-old who lives in a farm started a garden to sustain herself and is now selling plants to clients as far as Cape Town.

“What I have learnt in the fast success of my business is that when you want to start something, do it and go for it because sometimes procrastinate can be your worst enemy. I have procrastinated this dream of mine, I have always known what I should do in order for me to be successful”.

Mpumelelo Nzama
Mpumelelo Nzama with her succulents plant