Digest Africa Top 50 2021: The Most Influential People in the African Startup Ecosystem

At Digest Africa, we set out to compile a list of the most influential people in the African tech ecosystem. For over two months, we profiled various people ranging from startup entrepreneurs, accelerators (owners of hubs, acceleration programs, and workspaces), venture capitalists (investors), and startup executives in all African countries. After an extensive search, we are glad to announce the findings of our list.


Who is an influential person? According to dictionary.com, influence is the capacity or power of persons to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, or opinions of others. An influential person is one that has great influence over something. 

We looked at the work of many Africans in the startup ecosystem. To come up with our list, we focused on those that have set a trail for other startup entrepreneurs to follow, investors that have funded many successful startups in a region, and accelerators whose hubs have churned out very many successful startups. 

It should be noted that persons from countries that dominate the African startup ecosystem like Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya have a significant advantage over those from other countries. 


Country Split

In our top 50, 11 African countries are represented from Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt to Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Nigeria takes a lion’s share with 17 (35.4%) of the 50 people being Nigerians or operating in Nigeria. It is followed by Egypt (5), South Africa(4), and Ghana(4). Some people on our list hold dual citizenship. We use African countries. For others, they are foreigners but with operations in an African country. The country they operate in is listed as their country.


We grouped the persons on our list into 5: venture capital, entrepreneur, accelerator, media, and executive. Venture Capital is the people that are currently actively investing in startups and own a VC firm. Entrepreneurs are those that are actively running a startup operating in at least one African country. The accelerator category is people that are running hubs, workspaces, and programs that have churned out multiple startups in any African country. 

In the media category, we have people that are collecting data about startups, investing in these startups, and reporting news regularly about the latest developments in the African startup world. Our final category is executives. These are people that didn't start any startup but have been brought on board at the executive level and have done remarkably well. For those people that do more than one role e.g investor/entrepreneur, we chose the field in which the person is more active currently. 

49%  of the people in our top 50 are entrepreneurs. Venture Capitalists come second with 24.5% and accelerators make up 16.3%.

Gender Split

Men are the overwhelming majority on our list. There are only 6 women that qualified for the top 50. We are looking forward to an increase of women in our list in subsequent editions of this list until we get a 50-50 split. 

We will publish profiles of all 50 people on our list in the next 5 days, with 10 being profiled every day from the 50th to the 1st one. 


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