Digest Africa Top 50 2021: The Most Influential people in the African Startup Ecosytem (30-21)

At Digest Africa, we set out to compile, list, and profile the most influential people in the African ecosystem. You can read about our methodology and overview of our research here. In a five-part series, we will profile all 50 with 10 being profiled in each publication. You can read up on our first publication of 50-41 here. The second publication of those from 40-31 can be found here. Here is the third installment of our publication of those from 30-21 that made our list.

30. Gregory Rockson

Country: Ghana

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since: 2014

Known For: mPharma

Rockson is the founder and CEO of mPharma, a healthcare startup that is based in Ghana and operates in 6 other African countries; Malawi, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Nigeria. mPharma deploys highly scalable digital solutions to satisfy unmet needs in African healthcare. Its products include a vendor-managed inventory model for inventory financing of medical facilities, conversion franchising services for pharmacies and PPMVs (Quality Rx), health membership, and payment programs. mPharma is Ghana’s second most funded startup having raised $42.1m. Only PEG Africa, the solar startup, has raised more. 

29. Fatoumata Ba

Country: Ivory Coast 

Designation: Venture Capital 

Active Since: 2013

Known For: Janngo Capital

Ba is the Founder and managing partner at Janngo Capital. Janngo builds, grows, and invests in Pan-African “tech 4 good” startups with proven business and inclusive social impact. It raised a $1M seed fund in 2018 and a $56M fund, called the Janngo Capital Startup Fund in 2019 with backers like the European Investment Bank Mulliez Family, Clipperton Finance, and African HNWI. Ba also served Africa’s first tech unicorn, Jumia Group in various capacities as its CEO in Ivory Coast and General Manager in Nigeria. She is World Economic Forum(WEF) Global Leader and a Forbes 30 under 30 alumni.

28. Kola Aina

Country: Nigeria 

Designation: Venture Capital 

Active Since: 2016

Known For: Ventures Platform, Ventures Park 

Kola founded Ventures Platform, an early-stage discovery venture capital fund. He has built a strong portfolio of companies including fintech Mono, savings platform Piggyvest, health tech Reliance HMO, and payments startup Paystack which was acquired by global giant, Stripe in 2020. He is also the founder of Ventures Park, a co-working space and community for entrepreneurs in Nigeria 

27. Ken Njoroge

Country: Kenya 

Designation: Entrepreneur 

Active Since: 2004

Known For: Cellulant

Ken Njoroge is one of the people that has been active in the African ecosystem for the longest time on this list. He co-founded Cellulant, a digital payments company headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004 with Nigerian Bolaji Akinboro. It was initially launched as a music streaming platform to enable musicians to make money when a fan downloads their song. However, its founders pivoted to digital payments through their cloud-based payments platform, Tinng. 

Its services include consumer payments, collect payments for merchants, digital banking, and remittances. The startup claims to process 12% of Africa’s digital payments today. It operates in 13 African countries and has partnerships with about 28 mobile operators and 31 banks. 

Cellulant has raised about $54.5m making it one of the most funded neobanks across the continent and one of the most funded startups in Kenya. Investors in Cellulant include; TBL Mirror Fund, The Rise Fund, Satya Capital, Endeavor Capital, Velocity Capital, and Progression Capital Africa.

26. Erickson Mvezi

Country: Angola

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since: 2015

Known For: Tupuca

 An alumnus of Hult International Business School and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Erickson cofounded Tupuca alongside Wilson Ganga and Sydney Texeira, another member of our list. Tupuca is arguably Angola’s biggest technology startup and a true super app. Having started as a food delivery startup, it has expanded to become an all-in-one delivery platform that enables users to order almost anything on demand. Tupuca is one of Angola’s most funded startups having raised $520,000. It has been featured on international media platforms like BBC, in a part of the world where the focus is usually on startups from Anglophone countries. 

25. Maya Horgan Famodu

Country: Nigeria 

Designation: Venture Capital 

Active Since: 2014

Known For: Ingressive Capital

Maya is the founder and Partner at Ingressive Capital, a $10M VC fund in Nigeria that is focused on early-stage startups. Ingressive Capital has an impressive portfolio of startups like payments startup Paystack, internet provider Tizeti, venue booking platform Ogavenue, transport and logistics startup Jetstream, drug discovery startup 54gene, and Ghanaian fintech OZE among others. It has also worked with over 50 venture firms and tech companies seeking to enter and operate in Sub Saharan Africa like Y Combinator, 500 Startups, USAID, GitHub, and Techstars which have gone on to make over 30 investments into Africa-based tech startups. She is also the founder of the Tech Meets Entrepreneurship Summit, an invite-only convention of the top influencers across West Africa to discuss innovative tech solutions. 

24. Tomiwa Aladekomo

Country: Nigeria 

Designation: Media 

Active Since: 2018

Known For: Tech Cabal, Tech Cabal Insights

Tomiwa Aladekomo is the team leader at Big Cabal Media, the parent company of Tech Cabal. Tech Cabal is a market leader in conversations on innovation and tech across Africa, startups, investors ad big tech. It produces original content in form of analytical pieces, long-form articles, and a daily newsletter. It has an audience of over 120,000 on its social media platforms. It also runs Tech cabal Insights that provides actionable data and research on innovation and tech in Africa. 

23. Tidjane Deme 

Country: Senegal 

Designation: Venture Capital 

Active Since: 2016

Known For: Partech Partners

Tidjane Deme spent 15 years working in the African tech ecosystem as an entrepreneur, consultant, and business manager. He spent 7 years working as Google’s Lead across Francophone Africa. He is currently the General Partner at Partech Partners, a multi-stages tech fund that invests in African startups. Its portfolio of startups includes Ethiopian EdTech Gebeya, South African business management platform Yoco, Nigerian fintech Kudi, Egyptian credit startup MoneyFellows, Ugandan asset financing startup Tugende, Senegalese payments startup Wave among others. 

22. Tom Jackson

Country: South Africa

Designation: Media 

Active Since: 2014

Known For: Disrupt Africa

Formerly a reporter with Ventures Africa, a pan-African business, policy, innovation, and life news publication, Tom cofounded Disrupt Africa in 2014. It is a one-stop-shop for all the news and views on the African tech startup ecosystem. It has journalists roaming the continent to find, meet and interview the most innovative and disruptive tech startups. Disrupt Africa has about 50,000 followers on its social media channels and is ranked inside the top 45,000 sites globally by Alexa. 

21. Shola Akinlade

Country: Nigeria

Designation: Entrepreneur

Active Since: 2015

Known For: Paystack 

After acquiring a Bachelors’ degree in Computer Science from Babcock University in 2006, Shola worked at Nigerian Breweries Plc as a management trainee/database manager for 18 months before starting Klein Devort in 2009, a software development and consulting company that made Precurior, a simple and effective internet collaboration platform trusted by organizations in over 40 countries. In 2015, he started Paystack alongside Ezra Olubi.

Paystack is a payments company that enables African businesses to quickly and easily accept payments from anyone, anywhere. It has over 60,000 customers ranging from small businesses, larger corporates, fintech to educational institutions and online betting companies. Some of its customers include telecommunications giant MTN, Estonian ride-hailing company Bolt (formerly Taxify), pizza chain Domino’s, fintech Piggyvest, and betting giant Betway among others. In October 2020, Paystack sent shockwaves across the African startup ecosystem when it was acquired by Stripe for over $200m, a deal that is the biggest startup acquisition out of Nigeria and the biggest acquisition by Stripe ever. 


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