Worth watching: TED talks by African entrepreneurs

TED Talks has established a reputation as a space where great minds come together to share insights and ideas on globally relevant topics. Over the years, various global TED and individually organised TEDx events have attracted leading African entrepreneurs who have shared inspiration and advice. Here are seven of their talks worth watching.  

1. Magatte Wade, founder and CEO of Tiossan, Senegal

Tiossan is a luxury skin-care brand that manufactures products using traditional recipes and ingredients from Senegal. Wade, a serial entrepreneur, also founded Adina World Beverages, which sells African-inspired drinks in the US through retailers like Whole Foods and Wegmans. She left the company to launch Tiossan.

Wade is a frequent speaker at conferences and her 2014 TED Talk, titled The four stages of bringing an idea to life, looks at the opportunities within Africa’s consumer goods market.

You can also watch an earlier TEDx Talk by Wade titled Disruptive brands as cultural innovation.

2. Jason Njoku, co-founder CEO of iROKO Partners, Nigeria

Jason Njoku is an internet entrepreneur who co-founded the media company and leading online distributor of Nigerian movies and music, iROKO Partners. One of its brands, iROKOtv, is often referred to as the ‘Netflix of Africa’.

In this 2013 TEDx Talk, titled Failing all the way to success, Njoku shares why he decided to return to Lagos to start iROKO after studying in the UK, and how entrepreneurial failure played a huge part in his success today.

3. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, co-founder and CEO of eleni LLC, Ethiopia

Eleni Gabre-Madhin rose to prominence when she founded the highly-acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) in 2008 – a first in the country. She left ECX in late 2012 to launch eleni LLC, a company that builds and invests in commodity exchanges in markets in the developing world, including Africa. She is also considered an expert on African agriculture.

Her 2014 TEDx Talk, titled Building a big, bold, beautiful market, is a look at some of the risks Gabre-Madhin took and the ways that these paid off.

4. Herman Chinery-Hesse, co-founder of SOFTtribe, Ghana

Ghanaian entrepreneur and software engineer, Herman Chinery-Hesse, launched SOFTtribe over 20 years ago. Today it has grown to become a leading software house and has pushed Chinery-Hesse into the limelight as one of Ghana’s most successful entrepreneurs.

He shares his inspiring entrepreneurial journey in his 2012 TEDx Talk, titled Powering the African marketplace.

5. Ola Orekurin, founder and managing director of Flying Doctors, Nigeria

Born in Nigeria, Ola Orekunrin studied medicine at the University of York and graduated, at age 21, as the youngest-ever doctor in England. She returned to Nigeria to start West Africa’s first air ambulance service, Flying Doctors Nigeria. She is extremely passionate about improving the quality of healthcare in Africa.

In her 2012 TEDx Talk, Orekunrin shares how a family tragedy inspired her to solve a problem in Nigeria and Africa. You can also watch her 2015 TEDx Talk about the challenges facing African women in leadership positions.

6. Juliana Rotich, co-founder of Ushahidi, Kenya

IT expert Juliana Rotich is the co-founder of Ushahidi, an open-source platform used to collect and map information for disaster management. It was used in the Kenya in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in 2007 to crowd-map incidents of violence, and has since been deployed during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and elsewhere in the world. Rotich is also the co-founder of iHub, a collective tech space in Nairobi, and is responsible for bringing the mobile WiFi device BRCK to market. BRCK was designed to overcome internet and electricity challenges in emerging market environments.

You can learn more about BRCK and what motivates Rotich as an entrepreneur in her 2013 TED Talk.

7. Kola Karim, CEO of Shoreline Energy International, Nigeria

“All you have to look for in entrepreneurship is the simple stuff.”

This is according to Kola Karim, CEO of the Nigeria-based multinational, Shoreline Energy International. Shoreline is a African energy holding company with a diversified portfolio in construction, power, telecommunications, engineering, manufacturing and oil and gas.

Karim’s 2012 TEDx Talk, titled Pushing entrepreneurial boundaries, looks at the opportunities that exist within Africa’s challenges.