“Focus on what matters” is Sbusiso Leope’s mantra. The popular radio personality, known by his musical alias DJ Sbu, seems to be doing just that. In between hosting his weekly radio slot, Sound Revival, on Metro FM, and the SABC 1 game show Friends Like These, the recording artist turned entrepreneur visits three schools a week to share his inspirational life story with young learners. In addition, he personally mentors 16 children, two of whom graduated from the University of Johannesburg in 2012, and his eponymous education foundation has given away 147 bursaries to date. Leope has come a long way. Named by Forbes as one of 13 young celebrities to watch in 2013, he “grew up all over Johannesburg, in places such as Daveyton and Soweto”, but considers Tembisa the place where his roots are. He matriculated from Central Secondary School in Pretoria before studying sound engineering at Africa Media University as well as electrical engineering at Technikon Witwatersrand. His broadcasting career, which would later catapult him to mega stardom, began in 1998 when he started volunteering for a community radio station in Tembisa. It would be another 18 months before his talent would be recognised. “What opened doors was when I entered a talent search competition at Yfm and came second,” he says. “That was my big break.” Since then, DJ Sbu has become one of the most recognisable names on radio and faces in the media. A successful recording artist in his own right, with six studio albums, he has also been instrumental in unearthing new musical talent, including the chart-topping Afro-pop sensation, Zahara, who has signed with TS Records, the record label Leope started with TK Nciza. Music may be his first love, but business and philanthropy look set to become his passion. — Bongani Kona
Frustrated by the slow pace of studying for a BCom Accounting, writing hypothetical business plans and balance sheets, Nick Kaoma decided to hurry up the process and start a business. He dropped out and spent some time researching the Cape Town fashion and media culture, attending events such as Design Indaba and Fashion Week, while paying his way as a waiter and later as a sales executive for Cape Media. His blogs during this time drew the attention of Uhuru Communications and he progressed from feature writer for their Student Choice publication to editor at the age of 24. Finally, in 2008, he convinced Vega graduate Mzoxolo Gcwabe to become his business partner and together they started lifestyle brand Head Honcho. Thanks to clever collaborations with brands such as Miller and Play, as well as a symbiotic relationship with brand ambassadors AKA and Lulo Café, Head Honcho became the first local brand to be stocked in Shesha and Sportscene outlets all over the country and has become the voice of ambitious South African youths who aim to “live progressively”. At the 2012 South African Hip Hop Awards the Head Honcho family picked up six awards, including King of Gauteng, for Marketing Director Tebello Motsoane and Hustler of the Year for Kaoma — an apt prize for a man who once hustled his way into a meeting with design icon Gavin Rajah, with just a few sketches and some exaggerated claims about a clothing label on the production line. Having secured accounts with national chains in Nigeria and Zambia, Head Honcho is set to grow into the rest of Africa. That’s only the beginning — 31-year-old Kaoma has also just started a branding and marketing firm called 6th Avenue and is pushing ahead with his dream to take over the world, “one city, one country at a time”. — Rudi Benadé
When Tasmi Quazi was six she offered a beggar on a rickshaw in Bangladesh a packet of chips. He refused the offer, but was visibly moved.
The incident left a lasting impression on her of the dehumanising effects of poverty. When she was in matric she received an award for social service and chose to study architecture at university with the aim of working on projects focusing on community-based and sustainable practices of design.
As research officer at Asiye eTafuleni, Quazi has played a significant role in various similar projects. She has managed the Imagine Durban Inner-City Cardboard Recycling project, which, since 2010, has helped to increase the income of informal recyclers through several new interventions.
For Quazi, it’s an ongoing labour of love. “The proactive approach of the AeT team and the informal workers’ drive to be agents of change has struck a remarkable dynamic of developing innovation through collaboration, which is not only pioneering but utterly inspiring,” she says. — Fatima Asmal
At the age of 17 Kave Bulambo fled the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, spending a year in refugee camps before crossing into South Africa. Unperturbed, she finished high school and received a scholarship allowing her to study for a degree in Psychology at Harvard University. She returned to South Africa and, despite struggling to get permanent residence, considers herself unaffected by her refugee status. In 2008 she realised others weren’t as lucky and founded the non-profit Women Across Borders, offering social support and English literacy skills to female refugees. During the day she is a training and assessment officer at Gold Peer Education, where she is involved in the implementation of youth leadership programmes. Thanks to the 28-year-old’s efforts, her daughter Abigail will be part of a new generation of professional women we ought to be proud to call South African, regardless of what is written in their passports. — Rudi Benadé
Linda Olagunju may have been recognised as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum but before she changes the entire world, her focus is on changing the way Africa manages its natural resources. She is committed to being part of the team of professionals who will bring positive change to government policies on the use of these resources. Just 29 and one of the first black female attorneys in the renewable energy sector, Olagunju has been involved in critical deals such as Eskom’s $250-m World Bank Loan for renewable projects and Mulilo Renewable Energy’s bid to become the first independent renewable energy power producer in the country. She is founder of DLO Energy Resources, which initiated Renewable Energy Forum SA, and runs a pan-African online magazine, www.africabe.com. Seems this powerhouse has plenty of energy left in her. — Caroline Cowan
Vuyane Mhlomi grew up with his single-parent mother in a household of 10 children in Khayelitsha, using Sunlight soap to brush his teeth, wash his shirts and as deodorant. Now 25 and a doctor at Chris Hani Baragwanath he has come a long way from those difficult days. He struggled to get into medical school and then his mother suffered a stroke as he was studying for his final exams, and his books played second fiddle to looking after her. Despite these setbacks he graduated third in a class of 171 students. He was awarded the Dr Helen Brown Prize for the second-best final year student in clinical medicine and was on the Dean’s Merit List and Medicine Honours List — no easy feat. His main interest is hypertension and he was primary researcher, investigator and first author of a research project with the president of the Hypertension Society of South Africa. When he has completed his internship he plans to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship to pursue a doctorate in Cardiovascular Medicine. Concurrently with his medical internship he is studying law through Unisa in order to understand better the legalities of medical practice. When he is not studying he is something of a thespian, having appeared in the film Madam and Eve and a few foreign films, and a play he wrote won the award for best script in the residence festival at the University of Cape Town. He is currently assistant director of a South African short film soon to go into in production. With friends, he founded the MH Foundation, whose mission is to see every disadvantaged child become an outstanding scholar, by providing the resources and tools to enable children to follow their dreams. — Ilham Rawoot
The best thing about Mandy Rossouw was her dimples. No. It was her hair, the way it turned up at the ends in this sort of retro look that could only have suited her. Actually, it was the way she would make you laugh, or how she would tell you, in no uncertain terms, that she was right about whatever point she was making and if she was later proven wrong she would tell you you were a fool for believing her in the first place. Rossouw, who graduated from Stellenbosch University with her journalism degree in 2000, had the kind of confidence, humour, style and drive that made her an asset to any newsroom. She loved her work and had a career most journalists only dream of. Her first job was as provincial government reporter for Beeld. She went on to become the international correspondent for Media24, based in London. In 2007 she joined the Mail & Guardian as senior political reporter and it was she who broke the Nkandla story in 2009. In 2011 she returned to Media24 as international correspondent and City Press’s political reporter. The next year she joined Eyewitness News, adding radio to her already impressive CV. She wrote three books: The Year in Quotes 2010, with Andrew Donaldson; The World According to Julius Malema, with Max du Preez; and Mangaung: Kings and Kingmakers, which came out in the run-up to last year’s conference. When she died, unexpectedly, in March the journalistic community let out a collective howl. The ANC, Cope, Numsa and the Commission for Gender Equality issued statements. Social networks exploded, reports on radio, TV and websites and in newspapers all murmured in grief. She was only 33 years old. She was a Young South African destined for even greater things, and she is so missed. — Tanya Pampalone
The Democratic Alliance is known for its welloiled communications machine. The party issues press statements at the drop of a hat on issues every day. Twenty-nine-year-old Phumzile van Damme, head of the DA’s parliamentary research and communications department, is the woman behind this machine. Her team is charged with communicating the party’s role as the official opposition in Parliament. She has been a political communicator for four years, following her years as a political support officer for the then DA national spokesperson, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and for a short while with Mmusi Maimane. Van Damme is chairperson of the DA’s Cape Town City Bowl branch. Her long-term career goal is to become a public representative and Cabinet minister one day. “When I worked as the spokesperson for the Western Cape minister of finance I saw how, if utilised correctly, government resources can actively contribute to changing people’s lives.” — Andisiwe Makinana
At the core of Tsakani Mthombeni’s work is giving people a shot. Mthombeni would not be where he is today were it not for just such a shot — a De Beers scholarship to study electrical engineering at the University of Cape Town. Using his studies as a stepping stone he paved his way to career success. After obtaining a PhD in the United States he took a research position at the University of Cape Town. While there, he sent a proposal to Eskom for an energy-savings programme that so impressed them they offered him a job. Years later he made another bold move — to the Technology Innovation Agency, where the 33-year-old now helps entrepreneurs to turn their innovations in energy into viable businesses. His dream is to be a philanthropist: “If you pick the right people and give them the right resources, you can change lives,” he says. He should know — he’s a shining example. — Joonji Mdyogolo
When Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was 12 his dad bought him a bike for Christmas. He started racing and was soon hooked, becoming the National Time Trial champion in his age category two years later. He soon moved from club teams to bigger teams such as MTN Qhubeka before joining Argos Shimano, a world tour team, for the 2013 season. Van Rensburg was the South African time trial champion in 2012. His first international victory was a stage-two win in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia. Last year he won the Tour of Morocco comfortably, and his debut win in Europe was the fourth stage of the Tour de Bretagne in France. Adapting to different roads and weather conditions can’t have been easy for the 24-year-old but his determination to succeed has meant that this year he’ll feature in some of the biggest races in the world. — Fatima Asmal
Zandile Manana (33) is the marketing director of Massbuild, the home improvement and DIY division of Massmart Holdings. After graduating with a Commerce degree from Rhodes University, Manana began his career at Unilever on the graduate development programme. After two years at the company he was promoted to national account manager, at age 23. He remained in that role for five years until January 2008 when he joined Massmart as a channel forum manager. At the end of 2007, Manana won the Gibs (Gordon Institute of Business Science) 60-second challenge for a scholarship to study for an MBA at the business school in 2008 and 2009. In November 2009 he was appointed executive assistant to the Group chief executive of Massmart, Grant Pattison, who describes Zandile as a role model for young executives in South Africa. “He’s got that X factor, something which is hard to describe. But when you meet him you are convinced that he will occupy the position of CEO for some company one day,” says Pattison. In July 2011, Manana landed his current role to head up marketing for Massbuild. For him, marketing is not only about delivering and communicating value to customers; it is also about managing customer relationships in ways that will benefit the organisation. After two years in the role, he seems encouraged by the significant changes his team has made in communicating the company’s value proposition to its customers. He said that the extended price cut campaigns (which commenced after the Massmart-Walmart merger) have triggered a new thought process, both from an advertising perspective and in in-store execution. Manana was raised in Kagiso (Mogale City) in the West Rand, Gauteng. Despite being a reluctant leader, he has always ended up in leadership positions since high school. He was deputy head boy in Grade 12 and went on to become president of the local chapter of an international non-profit student organisation in his first year at Rhodes, and was a sub-warden at College House in his third year. “I recall being elected as the student representative for the Information Systems 2 class; I had no clue that half the class even knew my name, and I ended up failing the course to my embarrassment,” he says. Although he considers setbacks to be an important part of life, not going to university was one that he was not going to accept. When he was in high school he realised that many talented learners were not furthering their studies owing to financial constraints and he vowed that lack of money was not going to stop him from obtaining his degree. And when he boarded that Greyhound bus to Grahamstown in February 1997, he had no idea where the money was going to come from, but took the step of faith anyway. He soon discovered that faith indeed moves mountains and managed to get funding from the Tertiary Fund of South Africa (now called the National Student Fund Aid Scheme) in his first year and then a full bursary, through the help of his aunt, for the rest of his studies. “Had I not taken that big step and boarded that bus to Grahamstown, I might not be where I am today,” he says. That experience has taught him that, although nothing in life comes easy, dreams can still be achieved if one is determined and committed. Since then Manana has never stopped dreaming and believing.
"Focus on what matters" is Sbusiso Leope's mantra. The popular radio personality, known by his musical alias DJ Sbu, seems to be doing just that. In between hosting his weekly
Frustrated by the slow pace of studying for a BCom Accounting, writing hypothetical business plans and balance sheets, Nick Kaoma decided to hurry up the process and start a business.
When Tasmi Quazi was six she offered a beggar on a rickshaw in Bangladesh a packet of chips. He refused the offer, but was visibly moved. The incident left a lasting
At the age of 17 Kave Bulambo fled the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, spending a year in refugee camps before crossing into South Africa. Unperturbed, she
Linda Olagunju may have been recognised as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum but before she changes the entire world, her focus is on changing the way Africa