Under 30: Kenyan Founder On Building Ventures To Solve Africa’s Problems

Published 27 days ago
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The milestone speaks for itself: it’s the 10th anniversary of FORBES AFRICA’S 30 under 30 list, and just like the honorees who have come before them, the class of 2024 too are driven by impact. Profits aside, it’s about achieving success with innovation, influence and individuality. They aren’t looking to fill big shoes but rather lace up their own and forge ahead with giant strides, leading by example and leaving an indelible path for the changemakers to come.

Words and Curation: Chanel Retief
Additional research and reporting: Nicole Pillay With inputs from: Oluwatomisin Amokeoja
Art Direction and Layout: Lucy Nkosi | Photography: Katlego Mokubyane | Photography Assistant: Sbusiso Sigidi | Studio: NewKatz Studio, Johannesburg | Styling: Deneal Van Wyk | Outfits supplied by: B Mashilo Designs, DFLO, Franc Elis, Ephymol and Preview Accessories | Hair & Makeup: SnehhOnline Beauty

From East Africa’s largest economy to England, Alex Mativo dared to dream. In 2014, at just 19 years old, he founded E-LAB, a startup aimed at eradicating electronic waste in Africa and transforming it into products used in the fashion and interior design industries.

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For Mativo, it wasn’t just about eliminating 4,000 tons of waste from Africa’s communities but also creating thousands of jobs for artisans in the process.

The late Queen Elizabeth II celebrated Mativo for his work with E-LAB, presenting him with one of the Queen’s Young Leader Awards in 2016.

“Starting E-LAB at 19 without capital and business experience was my most challenging endeavor,” Mativo tells FORBES AFRICA.

“While my peers were joining university, I was fighting an environmental hazard in my hometown of Athi River (a town outside Nairobi). Electronic waste was unregulated, which led to factories discarding mountains of e-waste in my backyard.”

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His innovative nature didn’t stop there.Mativo’s latest venture, Duck, is a natural evolution of another one of his businesses – Nanasi, an operating system that helps restaurants seamlessly manage online and offline orders, payments, and operations. Duck expands its reach by tackling a notable challenge: data scarcity in Africa’s vast informal retail sector.

“As a FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 honoree, I would gain a platform to amplify my message and inspire the next wave of changemakers to build ventures that solve real African problems,” Mativo adds.

As a judge of the Business and Technology categories of the 30 Under 30 list, Amini founder Kate Kallot comments on him: “[Alex is] showing quite a lot of resilience, which is the single-most important attribute in business.”

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