Today the World Economic Forum announces its newest cohort of 100 ‘Young Global Leaders’ from around the world. Rapelang Rabana, internationally renowned entrepreneur and CEO of Rekindle Learning, is among the 100 nominated distinguished leaders under the age of 40 being honoured this year.
Featured on the cover of Forbes Africa magazine before the age of 30, selected as a Fast Company Maverick and named Entrepreneur for the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum – Rapelang is no newcomer to the global stage. Rapelang joins the Forum of Young Global Leaders – a community of over 800 enterprising, socially minded men and women who operate as a force for good in overcoming barriers that stand in the way of progress. The community is made up of leaders from all walks of life, from every region of the world and stakeholder group in society. Only four South Africans have been selected this year, namely Aarti Takadoreen, Billy Mawasha, Mmusi Maimane and Rapelang Rabana.
‘I continue to be stunned by all the accolades and gestures of support. 11 years ago, when I started my entrepreneurship journey, all I knew was that I had to follow my instincts. I had no idea that tuning into the rhythm of my soul would take me so far,’ said Rabana. Her journey began in 2006 as part of the founding team of Yeigo, an innovative tech start-up based in Cape Town that built some of the earliest mobile VoIP applications.
Rapelang is now the founder and CEO of Rekindle Learning, a dynamic learning tech company with the ambition of improving the efficiency with which we learn and build skills both in business and academia. Rekindle Learning was profiled in the McKinsey Lions go Digital report as a ‘striking innovation’ in mobile learning. Rekindle Learning has recently launched an online bridging programme, EnglishWordPower, for first-year university students to develop their English language skills and reach the proficiency levels required to tackle higher education. Rapelang comments: “the #FeesMustFall movement has highlighted how imperative it is that universities become more inclusive and I believe that improving English proficiency and achieving language equity is a fundamental empowerment strategy.”
Towards the end of 2016, Rapelang also broadened her horizons beyond technology and has joined financial advisory and private equity firm Nisela Capital as a partner and Executive Director. “With this move, I intend to build my skills to be in a better position to support and grow tech investment in Africa in the future,” she says.
“As entrepreneurs we have long complained about the lack of smart capital for early stage tech businesses and now I seek to be part of the solution by working on the other side.”
Rapelang wears many hats and has wide exposure to tech, business and leadership: from telecoms through her first start-up Yeigo, to Fintech as a board member for Moro Group (an ICT and payment services group headquartered in Botswana), social innovation as an Advisor to Project Literacy (a Pearson initiative to reduce illiteracy around the world), green tech as a board member for Meniko Records Management Services (a digital records & document management company), a private sector role in creating self-sustaining social impact as a Chairperson of the Board of Standard Chartered Bank’s Education Trust in Botswana, to trend analysis as part of World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship. She is sought after as a speaker to address thought-leading international organisations and has shared the stage with the likes of President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and Professor Mohammed Yunus of Grameen Bank.
With her infectious personality and ability to critically evaluate the use of technology in a socio-economic context, Rapelang brings a refreshing perspective to the possibilities of Africa’s future.