Barbara Mallinson

Barbara Mallinson is the Founder and CEO of Obami, a social learning platform being used by hundreds of schools across Africa, Europe and the United States. Obami was recognised as one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Technologies in the World” in 2011 by Netexplo, UNESCO and partners, and was identified as one of the “Top 20 Startups in Africa” by Forbes a year later.


Barbara-Mallinson_P3My Definition Of Success | When I graduated, all I could think of was getting a job with the highest possible salary… I turned down a few really cool opportunities because the pay checks just weren’t as good as some of the others that came my way. I was foolish to think that this was all that counted – I ended up doing work that I simply didn’t enjoy, and the more I did, the more I got pigeonholed. Nowadays, success to me is more about disruption – if someone is able to change or improve the way we do things, I’d say that’s a pretty successful outcome.

I Am Driven By | The idea that the only way I’ll be able to make some sort of mark on this world is if I give it my very best every day.

The Difference Between Good And Great | Passion and persistence.

A Key Talent | I’ve never been afraid of rolling up my sleeves and doing the work… At first it was all about how many hours I could fit into each day (because when I started, it was just me and there was so much to get through), but I’ve come to learn how to manage my time more effectively. I now know exactly what I’ve got planned for the next day, the next week, month and so on – I prioritize the critical short-term issues but also set time aside for the longer term ones, which are seemingly less important but just as critical. I’d say that over the years I’ve moved from working hard (time wise) to working hard (smart wise).

Lessons I Have Learnt | Keep things simple.

Barbara-Mallinson_P2Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I do a bit of reading and attend conferences when I can, but for me, there’s no greater source of inspiration than Mother Nature… Spending time in open spaces calms my mind, body and soul enormously – I feel I can achieve anything when I’ve taken just a little bit of time out to appreciate this glorious world around us.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | There are so many things I want to achieve work wise, it’d be impossible to list them all… on a personal level, I dream of travelling the world. I want to see and experience different cultures and different environments – there’d be so many amazing lessons in doing that.

The Meaning Of Life | I love this old saying which goes… “There are 2 great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why”. I think that discovering our own individual purpose – whether it’s to raise a family, change the world or whatever – that is the essence and meaning of life.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing

Barbara-Mallinson_P1Advice On Building Wealth | If your primary goal is to get rich, you’ve already failed. Instead, you’ve got to want to add value – pursue an opportunity with passion, be willing to learn from your mistakes and never give up. Over time, the wealth part will come to you.


The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I think we’re going through one of the most exciting times in African history – so much change is taking place across the continent because of technology. So, to one day look back and say that I played just a small role in driving that change, will be more than enough of a “legacy” for me.

Obami Awards

  • Top 10 Most Innovative Technology in the World (Netexplo, UNESCO and partners)
  • Top 20 Most Inspirational Companies in the World (Business Insider)
  • Top 14 Startup in Africa (Forbes)
  • Top 12 Hottest startup in Africa (Business Insider)
  • Top 10 African Startup Driving Valuable Innovation (TechRepublic)
  • Top 40 Startup in Africa (Demo Africa)
  • Top 15 African Tech startup to Watch (CNN)
  • Top 21 African Innovation (French Government)
  • Also recognised by BBC, The Times, Mail & Guardiian, City Press, etc

Mallinson Awards

  • Top 10 Female Tech Founders in Africa (Forbes)
  • Top 5 Female Tech Entrepreneurs (Mweb)
  • Top 200 Young People to Take to Lunch (Mail & Guardian)
  • Top 10 Women in Business in Cape Town (CITI)
  • Top 20 African Innovator (Google)
  • One of Africa’s Marissa Meyers (CNN)
  • Also recognised by Financial Mail, Finweek, Entrepreneur Magazine, etc

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