Not so long ago, 30 was considered the age at which young adults come to maturity and start to be taken more seriously by their family and their peers. Today, things have changed; there’s no age limit on progress or world-changing ideas—you can start your own business at 17 (like Gift Lubele), or be the youngest ever MP in the history of South Africa’s Parliament at 24 (like Hlomela Bucwa).
In the spirit of young entrepreneurship, I’ve decided to focus on two individuals who have pushed boundaries and lived up to the mantra of ‘age is just a number’.
One of the most notable young entrepreneurs of the current generation is Mark Zuckerberg (33),the American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. Co-founder of Facebook, he currently operates as its chairperson and CEO. This Harvard dropout pursued a project that ended up changing the world, creating the social media and social networking service that currently has more than 1.19 billion users and a net worth of $64.7 billion (R838 billion). By the time Zuckerberg reached the age of 30, he had influenced the new age of communication and redefined the way humans operate in the modern era, with Facebook providing a way for people anywhere in the world to communicate with each other and meet new friends. Zuckerberg saw a gap in the communications space, and transformed the way the majority of Internet users stay in touch. Facebook’s new mission statement, “Bring the world closer together,” says it all.
This 30-year-old is the man behind short-form blogging platform Tumblr. The American web developer and entrepreneur’s net worth exceeds $200 million (R2.5 billion), and Tumblr has been valued at $800 million (R10.3 billion). Karp taught himself to code, and dropped out of school at the age of 15 to be homeschooled. After receiving an internship at animation company Frederator Studios, he soon set his sights on developing something big enough to capture the world’s attention. Which he did in 2007, aged 21—founding Tumblr from the bedroom of his mother’s apartment in New York City. Tumblr enables users to curate pictures, videos and text in one place online, and now reaches as many as 170 million people worldwide.
Our cover personality this edition is Erna Basson: serial entrepreneur, top business coach and motivational speaker—and Fast Company SA’s inaugural Top Achiever under 30.
A mover and shaker, she has made great strides in business since starting her first company at the age of 22. Now Basson’s showing other aspiring entrepreneurs how to succeed at their own ventures. Her story is not only compelling but inspirational and heartening as well. We celebrate and congratulate South Africa’s other game-changing millennials—bright sparks such as Lubele and Bucwa—in our annual Top 20 under 30 feature. The tenacity and focus of these young people is a ray of light, and a sign that the future of the country (and indeed the world) is in good hands. Read, learn, enjoy. And remember that you’re never too young to dream big.