The five founders of the Pele Energy Group are, from left: Gqi Raoleka, Boipelo Moloabi, Obakeng  Moloabi, Fumani Mthembi and Thapelo Motlogeloa. Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA

How did five entrepreneurs in their twenties ­– none of them engineers – manage to break into the renewable energy sector? “We had the heart for it,” says Boipelo Moloabi (now 35), one of the five founders of the Pele Energy Group.

Neftaly Malatjie started what would become the Southern Africa Youth Project at the age of 14. Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA

Social entrepreneur Neftaly Malatjie (25) knows where he is going. It is this firm conviction that kept him going when he didn’t receive “even a donation of 10 cents ­– not even from my family” during the first six years of running the Southern Africa Youth Project.

Vuyiswa Mothlabane

Even at her lowest point, Vuyiswa Mothlabane (33) kept working towards her goal. This was in 2014, after her bridal shop in Rivonia, Johannesburg, had closed down and she had lost her house. “Many friends told me to just find a corporate job again. But I wouldn’t,” she says.

 KuNa CEO and creative director Shingai Nyagweta in the shop at 27 Boxes in Mellville, Johannesburg. Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA

Shingai Nyagweta had it all planned out.

The 32-year-old founder of kids’ clothing brand KuNa had known she would be an entrepreneur since she was eight.

Solathiso Sotshongaye, CEO and managing director of Nodela Trading and Projects, at the block-making plant in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape. Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA

Knowing that he could change his community, Solathiso Sotshongaye left a position in the Western Cape legislature to return to the dusty streets of Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape, where he has built his business brick by brick.

The 29-year-old is the CEO and managing director of Nodela Trading and Projects, which he started in 2014. The operation produces 2 500 blocks (bricks) a day.

“If you wake me up at 2am and say: Go train, I will do it,” says Thapelo Rapoo, the owner of Classic Oriental Consultancy. Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA

When Thapelo Rapoo was retrenched in 2010 he turned a “bit of a challenge” into a bit of business. Six years later, his business, Classic Oriental Consultancy, is established and growing.

Lebo Malope, managing director of Bhangula Waste & Recycling, at the company’s plant in Rocky Drift, Mpumalanga. Photo: Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA

When twentysomething Lebo Malope swept his gaze over the littered streets of Kabokweni, Mpumalanga, he didn’t see waste. He saw opportunity.