20 Entrepreneurs from 20 Nations (Part I)

What does success look like in today’s diversifying world? Leaders League has tallied up a two-part series of 20 young and inspiring entrepreneurial personalities from across the globe whose goals and ambitions have given them the courage to turn their dreams into action. (Please note that the order is alphabetical by country).

What does success look like in today’s diversifying world? Leaders League has tallied up a two-part series of 20 young and inspiring entrepreneurial personalities from across the globe whose goals and ambitions have given them the courage to turn their dreams into action. (Please note that the order is alphabetical by country).

1. Roya Mahboob, Afghan Citadel Software Co., Afghanistan

Although the opportunities and the rights of women in Afghanistan have been less limited than in the past when the country was under the Taliban regime, there has still been some ongoing prejudice against women's rights in the realm of education and work. Despite some of these obstacles, technology entrepreneur Roya Mahboob has developed clever ways for women to redefine their roles and identities by starting Afghan Citadel Software Co., an IT consulting firm founded in 2010 that currently employs 25 people, 18 of whom are women. Her employees develop software and databases for private companies; some of the employees are able to work remotely.


2. Gabriela Flores, Kirah Design, Bolivia

After moving abroad with her family at the age of 10, Gabriela Flores returned to work in Bolivia in 2000. Saying that she “was shocked and saddened to see the poverty and inequality” in her country, she wanted to do something to help. In 2005, she took a sabbatical from her job as general manager of an international shipping company to come up with a plan, aware that the answer to relieve the people of Bolivia lays in business and not charity. A year after receiving her business certificate in the US, she returned home to set up Kirah Design, a business to sustain artisanal jobs by selling quality stylish crafts and designs. Kirah Design generates real job opportunities for artisans by producing high-end home accent and decorative pieces, which are ultimately sold at its shop in Santa Cruz and two outlets in La Paz. Flores explained that “Artisans might have fine machinery and good training, but if they’re not selling their products they don’t make a living. It’s as simple as that!


3. Frank Martin (Pictured), Franco Silvetti and Andy Freire, Restorando, Brazil

Founded by Frank Martin, Franco Silvetti and Andy Freire in October 2010, the company enables restaurants to develop new sales channels to promote available tables and increase revenue, while making it easy and efficient for customers to make reservations online. It is aimed to address the lack of efficiency in the reservation process at restaurants, and is the leading online reservation website for restaurants in Latin America. In the first year of operations, Restorando seated more than 500,000 diners. The company has operations in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago, and is planning to expand to new gastronomic clusters in the region. Restorando currently lists more than 800 restaurants in Brazil and Argentina, generating value both for restaurant owners and diners with their innovative platform.


4. Sopheakmonkol Sok, Codingate, Cambodia

Sopheakmonkol Sok is a new generation Cambodian entrepreneur with a passion for social enterprise and creating educational opportunities for progressive Cambodian youth. Codingate, is a Cambodia-based tech venture company with specialties in programming, design and marketing. As the Chief Executive and Technical Officer, Sopheakmonkol provides guidance and direction to youth and is the key business and technical liaison for clients and investors. At Codingate, Sopheakmonkol embodies the role of a teacher, instructor, and public lecturer, holding regular workshops and seminars specializing in information management, web design, and solutions development.


5. Andres Barreto, CloudomaticOnswipe, and PulsoSocial, Colombia

Also known as the “The Latin Mark Zuckerberg,” this serial entrepreneur has developed Onswipe, a software platform that enables publishers and advertisers to reach large audiences through touchable devices like the iPad or a smartphone. Barreto has also started and run a few successful technology firms known as PulsoSocial, and Cloudomatic. He also launched a public relations agency known as Socialatom Group, which connects the markets of technology and PR in an effort to help the economies of Latin America by promoting entrepreneurship. Andres is a frequent speaker on the topics of entrepreneurship and developing nations and has participated in conferences throughout Latin America.


6. Alwi Idrus Mulachela (pictured), Ahmad Anis, Mahdi Kemal and Muhammad Nizar for Amazoo Indonesia and VASA Residence, Indonesia

Serial entrepreneurs, Alwi and his team have turned their dream into reality by creating an international import company that specializes in delivering Acai berries from Brazil to Indonesia.  Today, they are the only exporters of Acai berries into the Indonesian market with the hopes of becoming the biggest Acai berry distributor in Asia over the next 5 years. In addition to introducing the “Beauty Berry” to Indonesia, the team is working on a real estate development project known as VASA Residence by introducing the concept of urban living in Jakarta. They also plan to build the first building that connects to the MRT station in Jakarta by 2018. According to Idrus, the secret to his success has been “to do things not only for himself but for his family and the people around him.”


7. Bryan Loo, Chatime, Malaysia

Loo cites passion as the one thing that kept him going during the journey of starting Chatime. The entrepreneur, who believes that passion is the ingredient that conquers all things, started the business which has since become one of the fastest growing lifestyle tea chains in Malaysia. Loo aspired to be an entrepreneur since he was 7 years old, when he made pocket money by using his drawing skills. From that, he began to see pathways into this career opportunity by observing his parents running their own retail business. Perlis-born Loo began Chatime at the age of 24 when he decided to buy the franchise from Taiwan and bring it to his country to expand the tea-drinking culture.  The advice Loo gives to young aspiring entrepreneurs is to “not just sell your product, sell your vision.”


8. Mohamed Ali Niang, Malô, Mali

For social entrepreneur Ali Niang, his mission in life is simple: to erase the problem of poverty and hunger. The 21-year old and his brothers designed a plan to help Malian farmers protect and retain more of their crop, thereby boosting their income and alleviating hunger in a country that is one of the poorest and most malnourished in the world. They developed Malô by using an innovative rice mill in Ségou, the heart of one of Africa’s biggest rice growing regions. This provides for the growing of fortified rice at a cheaper price than non-fortified rice, and performs the rigorous procedure of mixing in micronutrients such as iron, zinc, folate (Vitamin B9), and Vitamin B12. The rice is in turn grown by smallholder farmers in West Africa which gives farmers a sustainable income by guaranteeing them a fair buyer.


9. Fiza Farhan, Buksh Foundation, Pakistan

For a 28-year old Fiza Farhan, she always knew she wanted to make an impact in the Pakistani society. Fiza runs a microfinance institution, known as the Buksh Foundation, which brings clean energy projects to poor, rural areas of Pakistan. Her strategy is very different from the typical microfinance institution that gives out loans to clients to help them get out of poverty. According to Farhan, it is not a sustainable strategy to continue to issue out loans without first checking the creditworthiness of every client. Therefore her foundation makes sure that it trains individuals to become sustainable on their own. To date, the Buksh Foundation has trained 135 women as energy entrepreneurs, which has helped bring solar-powered lights to 6,750 households, and its business and clean energy loans have been extended to 12,000 entrepreneurs. The work of the foundation is supported by investors and a network of local and international donors.


10. Ludwick Marishane, Headboy Industries, South Africa

One day Ludwick Marishane came upon his idea of developing the DryBath gel product, which would clean the skin without the need of using water. The idea came about from Marishan’s best friend who felt too lazy to take a bath and asked him, "why doesn't somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and then you don't have to bathe?" Marishane, who was 17 at the time, thought: “Yeah, why not?” Six months later they researched and developed a formula for a lotion that cleanses cheaply and easily, which has proven to be especially important for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who lack proper access to water and sanitation. DryBath has the same effect as anti-bacterial cleanser, but it's odorless and creates a biodegradable film that cleans and moisturizes the skin.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of 20 Entrepreneurs from 20 Nations.


Isabella Veronesi


This article is dedicated to our fortnightly newsletter “Leaders Wisdom Journal”. To Subscribe.


Other articles of the same issue:

Guo Guangchang (Fosun): “Fosun is more than a student of Buffett’s” (Part I)

Guo Guangchang (Fosun): “Enterprises are themselves the best form of philanthropy” (Part II)

Ten entrepreneurship lessons from Anthony Pile

Become a campaigner: use the fuel of Mission to advance your business

Wisdom on Risk-Taking (Part II)

Cameron Herold: Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs (TED Video)



Accenture's CEO and CFO interview by Leaders League Group

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