Continuing our Youth Month series, we’re profiling a very successful young entrepreneur, Rapelang Rabana.
She is one of the country’s earliest mobile pioneers, having co-founded Yeigo Communications, South Africa’s first free VOIP mobile services provider, back in 2007 with fellow UCT grads Lungisa Matshoba and Wilter du Toit.
Rapelang graduated from the University of Cape Town in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Science with a specialty in Computer Science.
A successful demo showing off Yeigo’s proof of concept in 2006 was enough to secure the necessary angel investment to get the service properly off the ground. Yeigo went on to develop software for telecoms-related services including voice over IP, instant messaging, SMS messaging and push email services.
In 2008, Swiss telecoms company Telfree acquired a majority stake in Yeigo, and Rapelang moved over to the company as head of their R&D division.
Rapelang’s success earned her many accolades, including a place on the “O Power List”, a list of highly successful women in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. She also appeared on the cover of Forbes Africa in 2014, when she was acknowledged as one of 30 people under 30 to watch among “Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs”.
In 2013, Rapelang founded Rekindle Learning, a company that focuses on bringing education, training and development solutions to Africa using mobile devices. Her bio on the Rekindle Learning website states “Rapelang holds the belief that mobile and internet technology will be instrumental in solving a number of socio-economic challenges at scale”.
Rapelang was selected as a Fast Company Maverick and named Entrepreneur for the World 2014 by the World Entrepreneurship Forum, and in 2017 she was honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. She also serves on several boards, including the Moro Group, Meniko Records Management Services and as director of Nisela Capital.
With her keen ability to spot gaps in the market and using technology to fill it, as well as her passion for mobile tech, it’s no wonder Rapelang Rabana is as successful as she is today.