The Superbalist 100 innovators is here again! What is the Superbalist 100 you ask? It’s a list created by the online fashion business Superbalist. It features the top 100 South African innovators creating waves in their industries. The public can ‘vote up’ their favourites and the winner will receive R100 000 in prize money.

Superbalist is an online platform that brings South Africans the best of international and local trends. It provides everything from fashion, home ware and accessories to a youthful audience looking for something on trend and unique.

The Superbalist 100 has 6 sectors: Social Initiatives, Fashion, Creatives, Media, Tech and Business. Here are my Top 9 picks.

Social Initiatives

Thato Kgathlanye

Thato Kgathlanye founded Repurpose Schoolbags. This is an initiative that makes schoolbags out of recycled materials and fits them with solar panels. The panels charge up during the day so that at night they are used as lights so children in areas with no electricity can study.

It doesn’t stop there. The textiles used to make the bags are also fitted with retro reflective material.  This helps students to be more visible to motorists on their long walk to school in rural areas. Thato is helping to create solutions in areas where there are none. By allowing young students to study for longer hours and keep them safe, who knows what potential they could reach. She deserves many vote ups!

Thato Kgathlanye Superbalist100

repourposed school bags with solar panel


Simon Deporres

Simon Deporres is a fashion label started by friends and innovators Simon Pocock, Mpilo Deporres Ngcukana and Jesse Lange. The fashion industry is saturated with trends that come and go faster than ever. Simon Deporres is a response to that. They create menswear that is classically tailored and functional. More importantly their attention to detail and designs are timeless. This makes their garments relevant for many seasons to come.

Their aim is to create a style that lasts. The simplicity of their garments also allows the wearer to play, and wear the garments to suit their own style. In a world where we dispose of so much everyday, this brand is doing something we should all be more conscious of. All I can say is, will there be a woman’s collection one day? Please.

Simon Desporres team fashion label

Simon desporres fashion label


Emma Dicks

This is a biased pick because Emma was a year below me at school. So I feel pretty proud about this. Emma founded Code4CT. It’s an 18month program that introduces high school girls to coding, design-focused thinking and the IT industry. Let’s face it; the IT industry is pretty male centred. I do believe it is changing more and more, but it still has a way to go.

Code4CT focuses on helping young women create sustainable solutions to pressing problems in South Africa. It also helps girls have access to devices, connectivity and creative learning spaces. After the program girls have access to bursaries and internships that can set them on a career path they may never have realised. It’s beautiful really. Just beautiful.

Emma Dicks Code4CT

Iain Manley and Lauren Edwards

This one is for the travellers. The innovators Iain Manley and Lauren Edwards created the app VoiceMap. It’s the first app of its kind. It provides audio tours based on people’s personal experiences, stories and local accounts. It started in South Africa but is now available across Asia, South America, Europe and the Caribbean.

Imagine going to the Eiffel Tower. One of the most well known tourist attractions in Europe. But instead of reading all the usual touristy information about it, you can listen to someone’s personal experience of it. Be it a local, a travel writer or a fellow tourist. Doesn’t that make the experience all the more unique and memorable? Well I just downloaded the app. You can also use it to explore your own city in a whole new way.


VoiceMap How it works instructions


Luyanda Mehlomakhulu and Lebogang Mohlala

This entrepreneurial couple launched the business Clean Grip Shoe Laundry. We can all agree sneakers are more than popular these days. Cleaning them is a serious mission. Well now you don’t have to (if you’re in Joberg). Clean Grip Shoe Laundry offers customers a luxury style shoe cleaning service. They offer treatments to your prized takkies such as: washing, refurbishing, colour touch-ups, stain removing, waterproofing and customising.

The couple originally offered their services to just township areas in Joberg. But the concept was so popular that they now offer the service to various parts of Gauteng. This is entrepreneurship in its purest form. Spotting a niche and catering to that niche takes foresight and initiative and these two clearly have it down.

Clean Grip Shoe Laundry Founders


Jenna McArthur

Ok, I think Jenna McArthur is my new hero and woman crush. She was the former online editor of Elle Magazine. Her years of experience in fashion, media and branding led her to start her own PR company, Jenna McArthur PR. McArthur partners with fashion, lifestyle and luxury brands no matter how big or small and help them tell their story. McArthur uses her experience to create communities and relevant content for each individual brand.

Her reputation is stellar, and she only aligns herself with brands that she feels have a relevant story to tell. This is one woman that’s doing it for herself!

Jenna McArthur Portrait

This Kind of Beauty Jenna McArthurPR

Buhle Ngaba

Speaking of women doing it for themselves. Here is another biased pick. Buhle Ngaba also went to my school. She uses storytelling to empower young girls of colour in South Africa and around the world.

Ngaba wrote her own children’s book Girl Without A Sound. After putting it on social media it went (unexpectedly) viral. It was, and is, a powerful message that challenges the narrative of the white, blue eyed princesses in distress, that dominate children’s literature today. The book allows young girls of colour to see themselves in literature. It also encourages them to write themselves and their stories into the world.

Ngaba is also the founder of Kamatla NPO, which focuses on developing the arts in underprivileged communities. Nagaba uses her writing, acting and innovative ideas to empower and educate young South Africans of colour to challenge the status quo.

Buhle Ngaba Portrait

Girl Without a Sound Book Cover


Agata Karolina

Agata Karolina is the founder of the perfumery House of Gozdawa (one of only two in South Africa). This perfumery uses only natural ingredients and essential oils (perfect for someone with the world’s most sensitive skin i.e. me!) Everything’s made in small batches and bottled by hand. Each scent is “created with deep love, commitment and intrigue to the story, the natural essences, and the history you will write for yourself as the wearer.” It’s unique, it’s handcrafted and it’s environmentally conscious. Yip, I’m sold.

Karolina has also just opened up a studio in the Netherlands where she produces artwork that reflect South Africa’s turbulent history. She is definitely one to keep an eye on as she makes waves in the design and art industries.

Agata Karolina Portrait

Confessions Volume 1

Loyiso Mkize

Remember those Supa Stikas soccer comics that used to feature at the back of our TV guides? This is the man behind those stories. He has now founded his own visual arts and communication company called Loyiso Mkize Art (Pty). Through his company he started a superhero comic series, Kwezi (which means ‘star’ in Xhosa and Zulu). The comic series is about a teenage boy who has superhuman powers. Kwezi uses these powers to help people in the fictional Gold City (inspired by Joberg).

Like Buhle Ngaba, Mkize has brought diversity to white dominated superhero comic series’. Like Buhle Ngaba’s story empowers young women of colour, Loyiso Mkize’s story empowers young men of colour. He gives them a superhero that they share a language, environment and appearance with. The comic series is entertaining and even I (a whitey from Cape Town) feel a sense of pride that we can have our own South African superhero running the streets of (fictional) Joberg. Movie rights anyone?

Loyiso Mkize Portrait

Kwezi Comic Series

All 100 innovators on the list deserve to be there. That’s for sure. These are just my 9 favourites. I suggest you take a look and vote (you can vote for each person once a day). These entrepreneurs will play a big part in South Africa’s future. Fact.

All images are courtesy of Superbalist © 2016 and the individual’s websites.