The word “entrepreneur” comes from the French word entreprendre, to undertake. And an undertaking it is. An entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks to do so.

With greater risk come greater rewards. Are you up for the challenge? These four entrepreneurs working in Africa were.  They overcame risks and challenges to find success.

(State Dept.)

People living in rural areas often have difficulty meeting with health care specialists. Arthur Zang developed a small medical tablet used by health care workers in rural Cameroon to transmit test results via mobile phone connections. This small tool allows specialists to help an increasingly wider swath of the population in Cameroon and in other developing nations.

(State Dept.)

South African entrepreneur Nkhensani Nkosi founded the women’s fashion company Stoned Cherrie. She’s been instrumental in creating Stoned Cherrie’s brand and signature look, which incorporates images from South Africa’s history. Nkosi sources locally woven fabrics and provides work opportunities to underprivileged women.

(State Dept.)

Biruk Girma Bedane and his wife managed a movie-rental shop. After the shop was burglarized, Bedane searched for a security system to protect the store. He couldn’t find one that suited him, so he developed his own. The system his new business sells triggers an alarm in the shop and sends a call or text to the owner’s phone when there is a disruption. He now manages eight salaried employees and hopes to grow his business further.

(State Dept.)

A first-generation Ghanaian-American, Rahama Wright built her shea butter company, Shea Yeleen, from the ground up.  She works with two women-owned cooperatives in Ghana and contributes to the livelihood of over 800 co-op employees. Her company’s mission is to empower and train these women, to educate U.S. consumers about free trade and natural beauty products, and to promote sustainable economic development in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Watch Rahama Wright talk about her experiences and share some tips with budding entrepreneurs around the world.

The annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit fosters entrepreneurship around the world. Follow this year’s summit, in Kenya July 25–26, with #GES2015Kenya at www.ges2015.org.