University of Cape Town (UCT) students and alumni have once again featured on the coveted Mail & Guardian (M&G) annual list of 200 Young South Africans. Twenty-one UCT community members made this year’s list, which “boasts over 15 inclusive categories that aim to recognise and reward youth who have created resilient, entrepreneurial and robust solutions”.
Every year, the M&G honours young changemakers and influencers who are making an impact in their respective industries. Some of the following young South Africans have or had an affiliation with UCT.
Arts and entertainment
Ndabenhle Ntshangase and Lwanda Shabalala (both 25) are UCT graduates with a keen interest in the travel industry and have founded AirStudent Travel. The idea was to extend how students could, in the same way they bought groceries in bulk, apply the same formula to booking air travel. To this end, they can negotiate preferential deals with airlines and extend their business operation to people who use technology and social connectedness. Ntshangase is the chief executive officer, and Shabalala the chief operations officer.
Ongama Mhlontlo (27) is a talented Mthatha-born singer whose résumé criss-crosses two continents – from Cape Town to New York. Armed with a Bachelor of Music in Opera from UCT, he also holds a master’s in classical voice from the Manhattan School of Music. He said his vision is in storytelling and taking those stories, through his voice, to the world.
Luke Kannemeyer (35) graduated from UCT in 2009 and works as the managing director of SweepSouth, the cleaning service that connects clients and home service providers using technology. Kannemeyer recently co-authored a paper on maternity protections for domestic workers. He has used his work to author SweepSouth’s annual survey, which focuses on pay and treatment of domestic workers. It has far-reaching implications as it provides key data on the state of domestic work in countries like South Africa and Kenya.
Nicole Mountain (27) is a UCT Graduate School of Business alumna who leads venture programmes and heads up stakeholder relations at Ventures 54 in South Africa. The work focuses on venture capital investment and business consulting firm buttressed on collaboration between Africa’s tech, startup, investment ecosystems and the rest of the world. Her vision reads: “The year is 2028, I have successfully been a part of the change in bringing the world to Africa and supporting the transaction of billions of dollars for foreign investment into the African continent, supporting South Africa’s GDP and impacting health, education, finance and mobility by investing in everyday people, solving everyday problems.”
Sandile Tshabalala (30) holds a BA Law degree from UCT and co-founded private company Huruma Bantfu with the aim of creating sustainable human-centred upliftment for clients and communities. The mission is to facilitate the commercialisation of socio-economic opportunities through innovative collaboration and cultivating social capital through unique inter-cultural insights.
Koinonia Baloyi (32) holds a BCom Honours degree in Finance from UCT and is the founder of Girls With Wings, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which distributes sanitary pads to homeless women. Over the last seven years, Baloyi has watched the NGO support over 500 women. The NGO has also extended its work to supporting homeless women through employment opportunities. Baloyi’s work includes the strategic and operational management of the organisation, advocacy and building relationships with partners, businesses, donors, and other stakeholders. She organises promotions and events and raises funds. In 2022, Baloyi diversified her work by creating another Girls With Wings project with the aim of producing its own range of sanitary pads. Homeless women label and package the pads and the profit made from the sale of these pads goes towards paying the women.
Mihlali Mzima (26) works as a social investment specialist at Tshikululu Social Investments and focuses her time on programmes relating to gender-based violence, education, community strengthening, capacity building and youth development. She primarily drives the strategy design, implementation, and management of social investments across multiple clients who collectively put more than R600 million a year into corporate social investment (CSI) programmes. In 2022, Mzima was named among the Top 12 Women in CSI by CSR News and won the Tshikululu Social Investments CEO Award for Excellence. She holds multiple qualifications, including one from the UCT Graduate School of Business.
Rukshana Parker (30) has a special interest in law of succession, administration of estates, and trust law. She lectures at Stellenbosch University and encourages open, group discussions which prompt independent thinking. Parker is currently doing her PhD at UCT. Her work has also entailed helping people in gang-ridden areas on the Cape Flats to build resilience in their communities. She was awarded the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship to complete her first two degrees at UCT.
Banesa Molauoa Tseki (34) and Dr Anesu Mbizvo (31) are the co-owners and founders of The Nest Space, a space built around the values of inclusivity, simplicity, fair representation, freedom of self, connection, community, harmony, self-celebration and self-expression. Tseki is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from the university, while Mbizvo graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine from UCT. The trailblazers have created a space for people to heal and experience alternative modes of healing such as meditation, reiki, sound healing, moon ceremonies and hypnotherapy. Their establishment boasts a yoga studio, alternative healing therapy room, vegan café, and zero-waste grocery.
Kiara Ramklass (28) is the founder and director of Marimba Jam, a social venture aimed at bridging education inequality in South Africa through increased access to African music education programmes. Marimba Jam’s catalogue includes training more than 1 200 school children over the past five years. This year, they are teaching 450 learners every week. Their employment diversity includes having students and graduates impart their knowledge as part-time teachers and performers. They employ six full-time staffers and 35 on a part-time basis. Ramklass holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Screen Production from UCT.
Nicholas Bush (34) invests his time in the field of manufacturing and beverages. Bush is the founder of Drifter Brewing Company and Cape Evergreen Cannabis Farm and Under the Table Cannabis Club (a consultancy that facilitates a digital cannabis club) and director of Bature Brewery in Nigeria – a fast-growing beer brand in West Africa. He also supplements that work with non-profit organisation (NPO) committments. He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from UCT.
Zinhle Novazi (28) has a portfolio which includes being the director at NPO Heavy Chef Foundation, an attorney of the High Court of South Africa and a tax and fiduciary specialist at Investec. With her team, Novazi is responsible for mapping Heavy Chef’s strategic direction and developing plans to achieve its goal of making entrepreneurship equitable and accessible. She obtained her LLB from UCT.
Film and media
Phumzile Sitole (33) has appeared on numerous productions including Star Trek: Discovery, Orange is the New Black and The Good Fight. Sitole is an actor, writer and voice-over artist and has performed in theatre, TV, and film across the world. She grew up as an avid dancer and later attained her honours in theatre and performance at UCT, which was followed by further education at Columbia University in New York.
Samkelisiwe Nyamathe (31) is a medical doctor and research clinician at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre. She takes a keen interest in the effects of TB and other lung-associated diseases on the health of children. Using the skills and tools available to her, she mentors young women in KwaLanga, Cape Town, through the Womandla Foundation. She holds an MBChB from UCT.
Mining and manufacturing
Pogiso Mthimunye (33) leads the digital value chain at Exxaro Resources – “one of the largest black-empowered and diversified mining companies in South Africa”. His work has joined digital transformation to enhance safety at mines. He is an industrial engineer and MBA candidate at UCT.
Politics and government
Inam Kula (30) is a political figurehead and leader in the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Holding a master’s in architecture from UCT, Kula cut her teeth through various leadership positions in the EFF’s student formations. She is a member of the EFF’s provincial command team in the Western Cape. She is currently in the employ of the Department of Public Works.
Janesh Ganda (33) aims to uncover how rugby training load interacts with injuries in a particular age group. His portfolio includes working with South Africa’s national junior rugby teams. He has also worked as team doctor for the Springbok Women (National Women’s Rugby 2018), SA U20 (2019–2021) and SA U18 (2019–2021) teams. Ganda holds an MPhil in Sports and Exercise Medicine from UCT.
Technology & Innovation
Joseph Lumbahe (32) is an artificial intelligence aficionado at Aizatron Group and the co-founder and chief technology officer at Bus54. Bus54’s influence is in mobility technology with a focus on digital infrastructure servicing intercity bus transportation with a footprint all over the African continent. He won the Rising Star Award at the Africa Tech Festival Awards in 2022 and was selected as a 2023 Obama Leader. He holds an electrical and computer engineering degree from UCT.
Zubeida Dawood (34) is a research group leader at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Information and Cyber-security Centre. Part of her work entails developing tailored cybersecurity strategies and policies for various companies. She completed her PhD in Computer Science at UCT.
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