Forbes Africa(Women Under 30, 2018)

Forbes Africa(Women Under 30, 2018)

“What never grows old? The burning desire of youth to reinvent the world…” Forbes

Forbes Africa has released its highly, anticipated, 2018 list of young individuals under 30, making waves across different sectors in Africa. Meet Beverly Naya, and other African women that have excelled in their various careers.

Thuso Mbedu, 26, South Africa (actress)

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26 year old Thuso Mbedu was raised by her grandmother from the age of four, after the death of her parents. She was awarded a scholarship to the University of Witwatersrand, where she studied Physical Theatre and Performing Arts Management (2010-2013). In 2014, she made her first TV appearance, starring in Saints and Sinners and then, Scandal. Thuso Mbedu has also starred in several other productions such as; MTV Shuga, Danish TV series Liberty, Mzansi Magic’s TV drama, Is’thunzi which received an International Emmy award nomination, in the category of Best Performance Actress in September 2017, amongst others.

Maria Borges, 25, Angola (supermodel)

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Maria Borges is one of the biggest fashion models in the world! She lost her mum at 11 and was raised by her elder sister. She came into the limelight with a bang in 2010, all thanks to ‘Elite Model Look Angola’ contest where she emerged second.

It has been an upward spiral ever since, appearing in several fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Brazilian Marie Claire, French Numero, V, i-D, W, and worked with prestigious brands like Tom Ford, Balmain, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Elie Saab, Emporio Armani, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Victoria’s Secret and L’Oréal. In 2013, Maria Borges made Forbes list of highest paid African models and in 2015, she became the first African model to walk the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in her natural hair!

Herieth Paul, 22, Tanzania (supermodel)

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Herieth’s career as a model took off in 2010, after being discovered at an open casting call, at Angie’s AMTI, a model agency in Canada. She featured as one of the models for Tom Ford Fall/Winter 2013 campaign and has worked with Diane von Furstenberg, Lacoste, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Armani, Cavalli and 3.1 Phillip Lim and Victoria Secret. In 2016, she became the face of Maybelline.

Stacey Gillian Abe, 27, Uganda (contemporary artist)

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Born in 1990 in Kampala, Uganda, Stacey Gillian Abe has made her mark as a Multi-disciplinary contemporary artist. Abe’s works have been show cased at Institut Français de Kinshasa, Circle Art Agency in Nairobi, 4th International Painting Exhibition, Kampala and Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Yemi Alade, 29, Nigeria (Singer, Songwriter)

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Yemi Eberechi Alade, Nigerian Afropop singer and songwriter eased her way into the music industry in 2009 as the winner of Peak Talent Show. She rose to fame with her hit single, “Johnny” which has over 89 million views on YouTube. She has won numerous awards including MTV Africa Awards.

Nomzamo Mbatha, 27, South Africa (actress)

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Nomzamo Mbatha was born on 13th July 1990 in KwaMashu. She was one of the three finalists in the 2012 MTV Base VJ Search, which announced her to her world.
In 2015, she began hosting a SABC 1 reality travel show, ‘Holiday Swap’, and featured in the romantic comedy, ‘Tell Me Sweet Something’. In March 2015 she stared as Khwezi Mbatha, One.TV’s original drama series, ‘Umlilo’. In 2015, she joined the likes of Kerry Washington and Jennifer Garner as the face of Neutrogena. She also became the brand Ambassador, PUMA South Africa, alongside Usain Bolt and Rihanna. In July 2017, L’Oreal South Africa signed her as their ambassador for their hair care range. She is also an ambassador for AUDI South Africa and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Safia Elhillo, 27, Sudan (Author, Poet)

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Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo, Best known for her collection of poems, ‘The January Children’, is the recipient of several prestigious poetry awards such as; 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, and a mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, Crescendo Literary and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator.

Joyce Jacob, 28, Nigeria (Founder: Joyce Jacob Beauty)

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A renowned celebrity make-up artist with an eye for striking detail, she launched Joyce Jacob Beauty in 2009. She has worked on the sets of many local and international music videos, magazine photo shoots and TV commercials.
Some of her notable clientele includes former British first lady Cherie Blair, African billionaire, Folorunso Alakija, Angela Simmons, Alek Wek, Angelique Kidjo and Wizkid, among other notable names.

Shekhinah Thandi Donnell, 23, South Africa (Singer, Songwriter)


Via Forbes

Shekhinah had an early start to her career. She contested for South African Idols Season 7, where she made the Top 32. Refusing to give up, she entered the competition again, the following season. This time at 17 years of age, she came out among the top 6. In 2016, she had two hit singles namely; ‘Back to the Beach’, featuring Kyle Deutsch (also a former Idols’ contestant) and ‘Let You Know’. ‘Back to the Beach’ was a chart-topper and won ‘Best Pop & Alternative’ at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2016. She was featured in ‘On Your Eyes’ with Black Coffee, ‘Breathing ‘with Jesse Clegg and ‘On It’ with DJ Sliqe.
In September, she released ‘Rose Gold’, a gold certified album, infused with the realities of twenty-something anxieties and vulnerabilities.
Shekhinah, born Shekhinah Thandi Donnell, recently completed a Music Performance degree at the South African School of Motion Picture Medium, and Live Performance.

Koleka Putuma, 25, South Africa (Poet, Author)

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Putuma grabbed the world’s attention with her poem Water, a thought-provoking piece on issues of race and religion. She’s a poet, director, playwright and author. Her bestselling book, ‘Collective Amnesia’, is a powerful, intersectional text that tackles race, sexuality, class, politics, and poetry. Her poems demand justice, insist on visibility and offer healing. Her plays include; UHM and Mbuzeni, Ekhaya and Scoop; the latter are theatre productions for young audiences under the age of seven. Koleka Putuma’s work has traveled around the world, with her poetry winning prizes such as the 2014 National Poetry Slam Championship and the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize.


Beverly Naya, 29, Nigeria (Actress, Entrepreneur)

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Beverly Ifunaya Bassey, born 17 April 1989 in London, United Kingdom began acting at the age of 17, studied script-writing and film-making at Roehampton University, before moving to Nigeria in 2010.

She starred in the Nollywood film “Living in Exile” and has ever since been featured in a number of blockbusters. Beverly won the award for Fast Rising Actress at the 2011 City People Entertainment Award, Most Promising Talent category at the 2010 Best of Nollywood Awards, nominated for the 2014 ELOY Awards for TV Actress of the Year, for her role in the Nigerian series, Tinsel. In 2018, she produced her first project under her company Be Naya LTD, a documentary titled ‘Skin’, which focuses on colour and empowering people to love themselves as they are.

Rina Chunga-Kutama, 29, South Africa (Fashion designer)

Chunga-Kutama is a designer of note. She is the founder of the African brand, Rich Factory.  Her journey into the big world of fashion started as a means to make extra money to pay her university fees. Today, the Zambian-born, Botswana-raised and South African-based designer has dressed many celebrities such as South African musician Zahara and actresses Terry Pheto and Nomzamo Mbatha.

 Kemiyondo Coutinho, 28, Uganda

Via Forbes

Kemi is a writer, director, and has acted in a short film that deals with Ugandans’ attitude towards women wearing mini-skirts. She is also the founder of Kemistry Klass, an arts’ organization, aimed at using art to create change. She teaches, directs, writes, and produces projects that all aim at vocalizing silenced voices.
Just recently, she was selected as one of the recipients of Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Film-making fellowship, for her script on immigration in America. As a result, through Hart’s Network, LOL Network, her film GREEN will be produced. She has played major roles in music, video production, film-making, event production and event curation.

Mapeseka Koetle-Nyokong, 29, South Africa (Actress, Entrepreneur)

Via Forbes

Award-winning actress, Mapeseka Koetle, fell in love with performing arts at an early age. She started performing on-stage plays at 13. After studying acting, she bagged a leading role in Second Chances. She has appeared in several national commercials for products like ABSA, Joko, Vodacom and Suzuki. In 2012, she landed a role in a stage play, called ‘Show Off’. This bubbly 29-year-old creative is also an entrepreneur. She recently opened a Gorge Grab n Go Café franchise, at the Sandton Gautrain station, in Johannesburg.

Sonia Irabor, 28, Nigeria (Writer, Film-maker, Actress)

Sonia is the daughter of media moguls, Betty and Soni Irabor. She is the current Genevieve Magazine assistant editor, and has appeared in a number of classical plays such as; Helen of Troy in Trojan Women, and the Tanya Ronder play, Table, where she played three characters in the two-hour production. She is also a screen and stage writer. She is currently working on her debut feature film under her newly-founded production company, Sonic Boom Media.


Tony Gum, 22, South Africa (Visual artiste)

Via Forbes

This multi-talented creative is a must-watch. Dubbed Cape Town’s “coolest girl” by Vogue, she won the prestigious 2017 Miami Beach Pulse Prize. Represented by the Christopher Moller Gallery in South Africa, Gum’s work is colourful and vibrant. Her famous black Coca-Cola series and her thought-provoking self-portraits have earned her a place on the world stage with exhibitions as far as New York.

Sasha Pieterse, 22, South Africa (Actress, singer-songwriter)

One of the biggest actresses to come out of South Africa, you may know her from her role as ‘Alison DiLaurentis’ on the ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars. She is set to return to the show’s spin-off, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists next year. Pieterse is also a musician. She released four country singles in 2013. This South African star is currently in the US version of Dancing with the Stars.

 Tania Omotayo, 26, Nigeria (Model, Entrepreneur)


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Omotayo is creative director of a fast-growing fashion brand, Ziva Lagos. With a dedicated in-house design team, her collections are on trend.
“Ziva Lagos is dedicated to boosting the Nigerian trade and labour market. Hence, all fabrics are locally sourced and the clothes designed and produced in Nigeria.”
The brand is becoming the go-to for the creative industry, being featured in music videos, magazines and even a movie. Since its inception in December 2016, it has had a number of successful pop-up sales. In June 2017, Ziva opened its first store in the heart of Lekki Phase and launched a second store early this year.

You can view the full list here.


  1. We are making the next list of Forbes under 30, AbI??

  2. I’m glad to see Nigerians on that list. Cheers!!!!

  3. This is incredibly well thought out. I wonder if I could submit one or two questions?

  4. Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

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