25 SEPTEMBER 2015



Where others would find an excuse, the Pioneer sees only opportunity, and it’s by taking chances and facing the inevitable challenges head on, which defines them. Levi’s® Pioneer Nation celebrates these brave spirits. More than a festival, it’s a movement, a vehicle that aims to inspire, inform and entertain. Celebrating doers. Championing champions. Attempting to change a generation. Read More



David Gumede transformed his folk’s skedonk into a vehicle that helped him to reach his wildest dreams. White Wall Boys has him sitting shotgun for the ride of his life.


Sometimes good isn’t good enough. Refiloe Seseane wanted to be her best, so she set up a company that provides a mentorship program for young girls who are as hungry as she is.


The coffee shop is an inner city staple. But when a trio of young men established the upscale Department of Coffee in Khayelitsha township just outside of Cape Town, it got everybody buzzing.


When Misha Teasdale first planted the seed that is Greenpop he didn’t know that it would grow into something this big.


Ludwick Marishane is an inventor and businessman extraordinaire. Now the overachieving 20-something is cleaning up with his company Headboy Industries.


Every time a person joins the internet, Nathi Tshabalala see’s him or her as a potential new client. His goal? To convert Internet users, build his business and get out while the going is good.


Pioneer Nation will feature 40 modern Pioneers candidly sharing their engaging backstories, entrepreneurial insights and practical wisdom in 15 minute TedTalk style presentations. You’ll customize your festival experience by choosing the talks you attend and who you make it a point to meet.  

We’re adding names to this list each week… so start planning your day now!


Nathi Tshabalala - Sowertech

Mobile App Developer:  Co-founder of Sowertech who created an app to streamline the service delivery of the mini-bus taxi transport system, a common mode of transport for many South Africans.

Luvuyo Rani – Silulo Ulutho Technologies

Education – Technology:  Founder of an extensive network of centres that increase the accessibility to technology as well as providing the necessary computer training.

Justin Coetzee – GoMetro

Technology – Mobile App Developer:  lead developer of a mobi-site providing real-time access to City based public transport in South Africa, giving access to timetables, updates and announcements.

Kolawole Olajide – Funda

Technology - Education:  Lead engineer of an e-learning platform servicing higher education institutions in South Africa.  Kola was  a past finalist of the African Leadership Academy  - one of the Top 12 entrepreneurs under the age of 25 in Africa.

Michelle Atagana – Memeburn

Technology - Journalism:  Acclaimed writer and editor of Memeburn.  Memeburn is a website dedicated to everything digital in the Emerging Markets arena.  Michelle is also a column writer for CNN. 

Mpumelelo Frypan Mfula – RHTC Online

Founder of RHTC Online Store & Manager of Puma Select Store in Braamfontein. It’s safe to say he sells authentic local and international urban culture.

Uno de Waal – 10and5

Owner and publisher of Between 10 and 5, South Africa's largest online creative showcase. He is also the recipient of the 2014 British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur award.

William Thubakgale – Qplay Music

Entertainment:  Music download platform of locally produced music

Mike Sharman – Retroviral

Mike Sharman is a co-founder of Retroviral, an award winning digital communications agency that creates online word of mouth for brands using bespoke strategy, social media, and web tactics. He is also co-founder of Webfluential – a new platform that establishes relationships between consumers and brands through influencers. Mike was named one of the Mail & Guardian's top 200 young (under 35) South Africans in 2013.

Craig Wing – Entrepreneur and Small Business Development Strategist

Medical Engineer & Developer and advisor on small business marketing and strategy.  Freelancer at Google, South Africa.

Xola Ndziba – LIMU

Software Developer:  A school management system that acts as a learning platform, information exchange and management tool.  Widely adopted by leading schools in South Africa.

Siyabonga Beyile – The Threaded Man

Founder and Creative Director of The Threaded Man. Men's Fashion and Lifestyle Trend Researcher.

Thembani Biyam – Intrapreneur and Entrepreneur

A serial intrapreneur and entrepreneur; member of the organisation Brightest Young Minds.  Thembani has been nominated for several  pioneering and influential awards. 

Andre Hugo - M4JAM

Co-founder and Chief Jammer of M4JAM – a mobile based micro jobbing platform that makes ..."Easy Work. Easy Money.” 



Benedicte Mundele

Founder of Surprise Tropical, an organic local produce canteen to promote a healthy lifestyle in her community.

Chineye Okoro

Founder of the Mosaicpiration Project, an initiative that uses recycled material to create art and impact entrepreneurial skills to young people through training and mentorship.

Chukwuwezam Obanor

Founder of Prepclass, an online platform that provides study content (past tests, answers etc.) for local Nigerian schools in preparation for national exams.

Gabriel Kombassere 

Founder of Rible Neda, a farming association that produces 20 bags of maize and 1 cargo of cassava per year feeding its members and their families.

Jeffrey Mulaudzi

Founder of Mulaudzi Bicycle Tours, a lifestyle tour in Alexandra township that engages members of the community by telling their stories and enveloping them into the business, creating a socio-economic transformation.

Martha Chumo

Founder of Nairobi Developer School, an institution that provides the youth with computer programming knowledge and skills to build sustainable solutions using technology.

Noah Walakira

Founder of Namirembe Sweater Makers, a community based organization that provides school uniform sweaters to over 40 schools across the country.

Nteff Alain

Founder of the gifted Mom project, an e-content platform for pregnant women to combat the high mother and infancy deaths.

Sam Kodo 

Founder of LC-COM (Low cost-Computer) / Infinite Loop, a company that produces low cost personal computers for students.

Thato Kgatlhanye

Founder of Repurpose Schoolbags, an initiative that designs school bags made from up-cycled plastic shopping bags that integrate solar technology, charging up during the day and transforming into light for learners to study after dark.

Tom Osborn

Founder of Greenchar, a clean energy project that produces smokeless charcoal briquettes and distributes clean cook stoves throughout Kenya.

Winifred Selby

Founder of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, a bamboo bike making technology to manufacture affordable multi-purpose bikes suitable for the Ghanaian terrain.


David Gumede and Lesego Legoale - White Wall Boys

Car Remodelling and youth development:  Stripping down and overhauling old used cars (essentially bangers), transforming them to coveted “rides”. 

Refiloe Seseane – 18TWENTY8

Youth Development:  Mentorship program for young girls.

Wongama Baleni, Vusumzi Mamile & Vuyile Msaku – Department of Coffee

Food & Beverage:  Famed coffee barrista’s in the heart of Khayelitsha township  in Cape Town.

Ludwick Marishane:  DryBath

Health – sanitation:  Innovator of the ‘waterless bath’ solution.

Jeremy Hewitt, Misha Teasdale & Lauren O’Donnell – Green Pop

Environment:  Tree-preneurs, cultivating a movement in tree planting and greening projects.

Angela Larkan – Thanda

Social Enterprise:  Founder of a non-profit organisation providing support, education and agricultural training to communities in rural KwaZulu-Natal, with a particular focus on children – the majority of whom are orphaned.

Brad Armitage – Armitage Foresight, Global Intelligence & Concept

Brand custodian, concept developer and brains behind Vida e Caffe.

Thembi Tsotetsi – Kaltsha Glass

Business:  A true gap-preneur, providing an auto glass fitment service to meet the needs of the underserviced township clientele in Khayelithsa, Cape Town.

Sifiso Dlamini – Eish Hade

Fashion:  Contemporary hand-crafted sneaker designer and manufacturer.

Wandile Zondo & Galebowe Mahlatsi – Thesis

Thesis Lifestyle is a street wear brand that is built on creating a positive influence in the community through clothing, retail experience and fun activities that range from events right through to running. With all that they do they believe in the power of Defining Yourself and collaborating with others.  

Paul Ballen – Paul’s Homemade Ice-Cream

Paul's Homemade Ice Cream is a Johannesburg based company that started out of his mom's kitchen making decadent & sophisticated ice cream with only the best ingredients.

Catherine Ohlson de Fine – The Collective

Catherine Ohlson de Fine is a specialist in Event and Project Management. She own’s and runs the monthly lifestyle market ‘Collective'.


Dan and Clem Forsthofer – Tutto Food Co.

Tutto Food Co. specialises in catering freshly made, tasty fare that gets right to the heart of good food. Armed with big flavours and a focused menu, they are on a mission to bring the realio dealio in cookery right to your doorstep.

Nqobile Nkosi – NQ Jewellery

Fashion – Jewellery:  A designer and manufacturer of contemporary jewellery incorporating elements of South African culture.  Nqobile’s creativity has won him several small business awards and international acclaim.

Kganya Kgare – Economist at Stanlib

Intrapreneur:  From modest beginnings to a respected emerging markets economist at  asset manager, Stanlib.

Thato Kgatlhanye – Rethaka

Social Upliftment:  Designer and manufacturer of repurposed schoolbags, made from recycled materials, with the added feature of a solar light.  An African Leadership Academy, 2014 finalist.

Lebogang Rasethaba – Future Sounds of Mzanzi

After five years in Beijing Lebo hungered to be part of the creative black led revolution in South Africa, he returned to make a documentary about Comrade Andrew Mlangeni. At around the same time, best friend and partner in creative crime Spoek Mathambo approached Lebo to make a film about electronic music in South Africa. Thus began the journey that would become Future sounds of Mzansi.

Sir Stuart Ntlathi – Stuart Ntlathi Science, Engineering and Tech Institute

Education and Youth Development:  From an after-school science club to an Institute dedicated to the training and grooming of young scientists.  A passionate explorer instilling his passion for science and innovation in young South Africans.  He is a multiple award winner and has also managed to secure his seat on a journey to space with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. 

Khaya Sibiya – Punk & Ivy

Artist that specialises in music, fashion design and styling. Creative director & co-owner of Punk and Ivy clothing label. Entrepreneur, influencer, husband, father and all round awesome guy from Soweto.

Adam Levy – Play Braamfontein

 Ten years ago Adam Levy started Play Braamfontein, a creative property company that has infused the area with aspirational spaces - from the Neighbourgoods Market to The Alexander Theatre to The Beach. Adam has focused on bringing a new generation into the area. 

MJ Turpin and Matthew Dean – Kalashnikov Gallery

Kalashnikovv is a contemporary fine art gallery and project space which is dedicated to providing support to both emerging and established South African artists. They challenge the conventions of the art gallery in its manifestation, conduct, audience and motivation. They stopped asking what art is, and rather answer where it can be found.

Sechaba Mogale – Loxion Kulca Founder

His first business was Loxion Kulca a pioneering fashion label that successfully brought the fashion style of South Africa’s townships to the mass market. Now he runs a brand & business called Sxtn Stchs Corp.

Vusi Kunene – The Blackanese Sushi and Wine Bar

Food:  From waiter to Head Chef and Owner.  The increasingly popular Blackanese offers a fusion of African flavours with traditional Japanese cuisine.  Nominated as a Hansa Pioneer in 2014.