Exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in high school has brought about a gap between higher and tertiary education. Not many young South Africans are being exposed to STEM subjects therefore not many are entering STEM field-related careers. These five South Africans have made their mark, continuing to make history in South Africa, paving a wave of success.

Astrophysicist Dr Kenda Knowles made history by becoming one of two UKZN PhD students who made a pioneering discovery into how we measure the galaxy. Her fascination with stars is what made her a success in the astrophysics industry. 


Receiving fellowships from the Department of Science and Technology, and the Claude Leon Foundation, Knowles has always known that success would be written in the stars, “Be self-motivated enough to push through when things aren’t working, even if that means failing for weeks before you find a solution.

Germiston pilot Asnath Mahapa gives back to her community by assisting young students a chance to spread their wings through her college, the African College of Aviation.


In her profession, aviation is an industry that has its rigid guidelines and restriction but her love for flying didn’t hamper that ambition as she became the first black female pilot in South Africa.

“If you want to succeed you need to love what you do and have passion.” “My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? First, find friends and mentors that inspire, improve, and motivate you. Second, don’t ever give up!” Those are the wise words from entrepreneur Rupert Bryant. 


Bryant who taught himself coding, left school to set up on the country’s largest web hosting companies, Web Africa. He also helped relaunched an online accommodation site in 2013. Now the chief executive at Web Africa, he firmly believes in self-education as his successes were noticed and was honoured to be named in the Forbes Africa list of 30 Promising Young Entrepreneurs under 30 in 2015. Follow Rupert Bryant on Twitter at @waroop.

Chief executive officer of mLab, Derrick Kotze, believes that Africa’s technological problems will be solved by young coders. A Tuks IT graduate, Kotze started the company with a strong focus to provide entrepreneurs and developers with support in developing innovative applications and services. 


“Young people often think they don’t have a right to speak up because they don’t speak up, but all they need is confidence,” stated Kotze. Follow Derrick Kotze on Twitter at @derrickkotze.

An engineering graduate, Mayenzeke Baza has no experience in the film and television industry. Yet he was determined by produce a product aimed at rural and informal areas that allow people access to the internet.

“If you want to succeed you need to stay humble and always look out for new opportunities,” Baza stated.


This product became iBiskop – an online film store accessed by Wi-Fi connectivity at taxi ranks, people can watch, and download videos on demand. With the unlimited bandwidth, users can purchase these films through the use of a voucher which can be bought at nearby vendors. Follow Mayenzeke Baza on Twitter at @Mayenzeke.

For more information on this tech-savvy innovators, find their stories on The Young Independents site under Mzansi 100.