Kenyans dominate the list of Africa’s top 30 innovative entrepreneurs in this year’s ranking by US-based digital media outlet Quartz.

There are seven Kenyans in the 2016 Quartz Africa Innovators list, an increase from the six locals who made it to last year’s rankings.

The finalists include Agosta Liko, founder of e-payment gateway PesaPal, artist and sculptor Cyrus Kabiru, filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu, and techie Marie Githinji, co-founder of IT training programme AkiraChix and educational technology start-up eLimu.

Other Kenyans are Diana Opoti, founder of fashion and communications consultancy Diana Opoti PR, Ciiru Waweru, the proprietor of Funkidz, a children’s furniture maker, and Evelyn Gitau, an immunologist.

“The innovators have been chosen for their groundbreaking work, thought-leading initiatives, and creative approaches to problems,” said Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor in a citation about the fellows.

The 30 finalists will be feted at a gala in Nairobi on July 20.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, has seven innovators on the list followed by South Africa (four), Ghana (three), while Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cameroon have two entrepreneurs each in the Quartz rankings.

Tanzania, Ethiopia, Namibia, Angola and Burkina Faso have one finalist each.

Ms Gitau was feted for researching cerebral malaria among children, Quartz said, adding that she was instrumental in developing a rapid malaria test.

She completed her doctoral degree in cellular immunology at the Open University in the UK in collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and was sponsored by the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme-Kenya.

Ms Githinji was honoured for co-founding AkiraChix, a social enterprise that trains about 30 female techies every year. She is also the brains behind eLimu, which has developed tablets and software for school children.


Self-taught artist and TED fellow Kabiru was ranked due to his works on creating goggles dubbed “C-Stunners”, made from electronic refuse and scrap metal.

Ms Kahiu is best known for the short movie From a Whisper, a Kenyan drama based on the August 1998 twin bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The film bagged five awards at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009.

The six Kenyans in last year’s Quartz rankings were three female techies: Jamila Abass of M-Farm, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Njeri Rionge, co-founder of Wananchi Online.

Others were Oscar award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, photojournalist-cum-activist Boniface Mwangi, and novelist Binyavanga Wainaina, winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing.