5 innovators who want to make your life easier

Nigerian cartoonist and YouTube star. Yagazie Emezi, on a TSTMKRS app experience at Zaina Lodge in Ghana's Mole National Park.

(CNN)According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, "great innovators and great companies see the space that others don't."

But we'd also add that innovators demonstrate an awe-inspiring level of perseverance and commitment to their ideas, overcoming many obstacles to bring us their new methods and products.
The annual gathering of the African Leadership Network is a great place to spot them. This year, in early November, 350 heads of business, social enterprises and entrepreneurs met in Marrakech under the theme "Exploring the Boundaries of Possibilities in Africa."
    Here are five individuals -- managing organizations of various sizes -- who caught our eye at ALN2015.

    Munyaradzi Gwatidzo, AstroMobile

    Astro Mobile founder, Munyaradzi Gwatidzo
    Munyaradzi Gwatidzo's story proves that it's not how you begin that counts but how you finish.
    As an orphan growing up in one of Zimbabwe's poorest suburbs, Gwatidzo was very interested in electronics and would collect broken and discarded phones out of the litter. With three siblings to care for, Gwatidzo taught himself to repair phones. At 19 he sold his first one -- a Nokia 3310.
    After buying, repairing and selling mobile phones in neighboring Zambia for a few years, Gwatidzo then seized the opportunity in 2011 to build his own brand, Astro Mobile.
    An Astro Mobile retail space
    Today Astro is a large ecommerce company and a mobile and electronic solutions provider with branches in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania South Africa.
    Astro is now setting up a manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe, a move Gwatidzo believes will set the company apart from its competition: "Other African tech players in the market just import goods from the East and sell them on the market without necessarily adding any value or addressing the day to day challenges that African people face," he told CNN.
    "Astro now provides employment to over 2,000 people and has created various downstream employment opportunities in companies that offer support services. These include packaging manufacturers, food supply companies, and construction companies among others."

    Cherae Robinson, Tastemakers Africa

    Tastemakers Africa founder, Cherae Robinson
    Tastemakers Africa (TSTMKRS) is a mobile app and content platform aiming to revolutionize the African travel and leisure space.
    Through the app, travelers and curious locals in Marrakech, Lagos, Accra, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nairobi can book curated experiences -- from a pop-up dinner with a local chef to a street photography workshop.
    TSTMKRS is innovative because it addresses the part of the travel puzzle often left unanswered by travel companies: what to do in-country once you've booked your holiday. It avoids a cookie-cutter approach to recommendations by relying on the knowledge of a network of local creatives and influencers across the continent.
    Johannesburg -based photographer and branding expert Lebo Lukewarm on a Tastemakers Africa hosted experience at Nomad Marrakech
    Its founder, New York-native Cherae Robinson, has always been passionate about Africa and through her personal adventures spotted an opportunity. "I had been traveling to the continent since 2008," she says, "and after bringing 80 Millennials to West Africa in 2012, I realized that there was a huge market for people that wanted to go beyond a Safari and have a contemporary African experience."
    As well as trying to change the narrative about Africa and be an early adopter of technology, Robinson's vision is to help build an entire industry: "We want to end the 'skip the people' approach to travel in Africa, create more income for people at every rung of the ladder, and create a quality assurance system for travelers looking to go deeper in their explorations and have a good time."

    Richard Bbaale, BanaPads

    Banapads founder, Richard Bbale
    BanaPads is not yet available to the mass market in Africa but its inception story alone is pretty inspiring.
    Watching his older sister miss school for a week every month because their guardians could not afford sanitary towels, sowed a seed for a business Richard Bbaale would later start.
    In 2011, with a degree in science and engineering, knowledge of local materials and the size of the need, Bbaale designed and made a biodegradable pad from the stem of the banana trees that grow in his native Uganda. The criteria for a successful product? Comfort, a simple means of production and a low retail price.
    Between 2012 and 2014 the resulting effort, BanaPads, had been tested in Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.