Tsakani Lotten Mthombeni

At the core of Tsakani Mthombeni’s work is giving people a shot. Mthombeni would not be where he is today were it not for just such a shot — a De Beers scholarship to study electrical engineering at the University of Cape Town. Using his studies as a stepping stone he paved his way to career success. After obtaining a PhD in the United States he took a research position at the University of Cape Town. While there, he sent a proposal to Eskom for an energy-savings programme that so impressed them they offered him a job. Years later he made another bold move — to the Technology Innovation Agency, where the 33-year-old now helps entrepreneurs to turn their innovations in energy into viable businesses. His dream is to be a philanthropist: “If you pick the right people and give them the right resources, you can change lives,” he says. He should know — he’s a shining example. — Joonji Mdyogolo