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Meet the 4 Kenyan entrepreneurs featured in Forbes 30 under 30 list

 

The annual Forbes 30 under 30 edition list has featured many African game changers and noteable among those are several Kenyans.

At number 6 is a Kenyan Sadaam Suleiman, 28.

He is the Co-founder and Managing Director of DragonFly Limited

When Sadaam Suleiman was young, his dream was to own a car by the age of 20, and so he started to save towards it.

However, when he did reach his target amount, his mother advised him to invest the money and so he invested in a business.

In 2014, he registered DragonFly after noting a gap in the digital marketing field. It focuses on digital advertising, media, branding and public relations.

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He rented a small corridor in Nairobi and converted it into an office with a staff of four, including himself.

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Since then, the business has grown to a staff of 33 but on one condition; they have to wear comfortable crocs in the office, work hard and play hard.

DragonFly has worked with numerous brands including Nutella, LG and Sanlam.

Last year, Suleiman bagged a gold award at the Muse Creative Awards. The company’s star continues to rise.

“It has competed with multinationals and was recognized in 2017 as the eighth best agency in Kenya by the Association of Practitioners in Advertising,” he says.

Suleiman plans to open new offices in the East African region as well as invest in technology and innovation using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In 2024, he plans to launch an incubation hub.

8. David Kyalo, 29, Kenya

Founder and  CEO: Koncepts & Events Ltd

David Kyalo founded Koncepts & Events Ltd in 2014 while studying at Kenyatta University in Kenya.

Being a student leader in charge of events and entertainment at the university, Kyalo grew passionate about his role and decided to register a business.

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At the time, he and his partner only had $15 to register the business and worked from one of the rooms at the university.

Their first project was to organize a kids’ festival-themed event.

The event took place; however, the clients had swindled Kyalo and his partner of over $2,000 because they did not sign a contract; a lesson well-learned for the young co-founders.

After that, they made sure to put in measures to bootstrap their business.

Koncepts & Events now specializes in event-planning, catering, marketing and public relations.

Since then, they have worked on over 80 events, 35 marketing projects and have won nine awards.

Some of the clients they have had include the World Bank Group and Red Cross.

Kyalo has seven full-time employees and over 10 on-contract employees, based on the magnitude of the project.

“[We want to] have more than 50% market share in Kenya in the next 10 years and be one of the best events and marketing companies in Africa in terms of profitability and quality delivery,” he says.

In one of his first features in a local Kenyan newspaper after the business started, Kyalo was asked if he had any won major awards yet.

He responded, “No major awards, not yet. But I should be on FORBES magazine soon”.

13. Shirlene Nafula, 27, Kenya

Founder and CEO: Crystal River Products

Business Daily named her one of the top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya.

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Never mind that, she was also recognized by the British High Commission among women leading British and Kenyan businesses in Kenya and across the Commonwealth countries.

At only 27, Shirlene Nafula has achieved this and more.

Four years ago, she founded Crystal River Products, a manufacturing company for bio-based beauty and hygiene products after mixing products from her parents’ dining room table.

Her company grew ten-fold and now she supplies her products to corporates and institutions including the office of the Deputy President of Kenya, William Samoei Ruto. Her products have been sold in Uganda and Tanzania.

Nafula, who is a scientist by profession, currently employs 21 people on an incentive model.

“In five years, we hope to have Crystal River Products having an established presence in Africa and in 20 years, have our products sold globally,” she tells FORBES AFRICA.

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15. Kimani Adam, 29, Kenya

Co-founder and CEO: Nature Expeditions Destination Management

When Zimbabwean billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa, spoke to a group of graduates in 2015 at the Hult International Business School in the US, Kimani Adam was in the crowd. With ears and a mind wide open and eager to learn, Adam was inspired by Masiyiwa’s speech about starting your entrepreneurial journey now.

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Without hesitation, Adam went on to start his own company in Kenya.

Using his personal savings and third-party angel capital, he founded Nature Expeditions Destination Management in 2015.

It is an African tour and photographic safari operator with offices in Rwanda, Seychelles, Mauritius, the US, Morocco, Uganda and Tanzania, with signed partnership deals in Asia and Canada.

The company worked in conjunction with his family business that was failing at the time, called Nature Expeditions Africa.

“I created a global expansion proposal to the board of the group, who were comprised of well respected ‘old school’ veterans in the hospitality industry; however, they didn’t believe in my proposal and rejected it,” he says.

He challenged them and implemented that proposal to create his global enterprise. His goal is to become an “industry powerhouse in the Africa and global photographic tour operator space”.

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