Anga Mbeyiya is Gqeberha’s own aquaculture visionary. As the founder and chief executive of Ole Blu, a “sustainable seaweed start-up” seeking to revolutionise coastal farming practices across the continent, Mbeyiya has her eyes focused on her own vision of a blue new deal for Africa: “Seaweed has great potential in food, cosmetics and bio stimulants. Locally grown, locally produced, locally consumed products will change the African narrative for the good.”
Trained in development studies and marketing at Nelson Mandela University and touted as a leader in African innovation after earning her master’s in sustainability studies at the University of Gothenburg, she is setting the pace for her peers.
This year Mbeyiya was picked as a TECA Fellow for the renowned consulting firm BFA Global: an honour that placed her among the leading lights of young climate entrepreneurs worldwide, and which packed her off to Kenya for a crash-course in environmental strategy. “A down-up approach to climate change is needed. Being on the ground [in Kenya] exposed me to the real issues on hand. [What we are working for now is] African-led solutions for African people.”
Coming home, she has a renewed sincerity about the sustainable path ahead: “The environment is not detached from us, we are one with the environment. Once South Africans understand that, it’s easier to protect and care for something you are a part of.”
But this conclusion was no sudden epiphany. In a recent interview for the BBC World Service, she related how her family’s agrarian roots in the rural Eastern Cape placed them on the frontlines of flooding and drought. In every sense then, Mbeyiya’s activism hits close to home.
The environment is not detached from us, we are one with the environment