Businessman and tech enthusiast Lubabalo Nojiwa is undoubtedly an innovative individual with a journey that is nothing short of interesting and inspirational.
Raised in Soweto by a single mother who was a nurse, the entrepreneur’s years of youth contributed immensely to the kind of man he is today.
“My mom resided at a nurses home for some time and they wouldn’t allow nurses to have their kids at nurses homes. So she would leave us with relatives and friends until she got herself a place of her own. There was a lot of moving around,” said Nojiwa.
During this time, he learnt important life skills which include adaptation and dealing with different people and situations.
“If you’re moving around all the time, you develop the strength to deal with a new environment every time. I think that has helped me in my life as I’m able to adapt to each and every situation and opportunity,” he said.
Importantly, one of the most significant things he learnt during his upbringing is entrepreneurship. Through witnessing various businesses around him, he grew to be business-minded and naturally began to possess a burning passion for all things entrepreneurship.
His mother, whom he speaks of quite fondly, was one of the first people who modeled entrepreneurship for him. Although she was a nurse, she would also have small businesses on the side in order to supplement her income.
“She would sell things like cold drinks and ice cream. So I kind of picked that up from her,” he explained.
Nojiwa also added that a great influence on his entrepreneurship journey came from the different families he stayed with as most of them ran businesses.
“There would either be a spaza shop or transport business where they transported kids or church members. So I was always around enterprising spaces,” added the businessman.
Since then, Nojiwa has founded and developed various businesses including a company called AJobsFind – a search engine for job seekers. In 2021, he developed the Fula Mobile App which is his latest brainchild. It is a delivery app which enables motorists to access fuel at their fingertips. As is often the case at the start of something great and worthwhile, developing Fula did not come without any labour pains.
“The reception was really great but there’s still a lot of growth. The challenge with a business like Fula is that it’s tech meets fuel meets people. Most people are not used to an idea like that.
Like I tell a lot of people, Fula is literally a lifetime project. In 10 or 20 years, that’s when I’m looking at Fula to be enjoyed. We’re building onto it as we go along,” he explained.
Although the world of tech can be fascinating and fulfilling, it can also be challenging to navigate as a businessperson. Thus, Nojiwa recommends supplementary income for all entrepreneurs looking to enter the space and thrive in it.
“Tech is challenging. You have to work at bringing people along with you for the journey and obviously that’s when your dream gets realized. So while you do that, you need to have other businesses or other supplementary income that assists you in taking your ideas forward.
In a country like South Africa where financing for young black businesses is almost non-existent, you need to build a buffer for your idea or business to grow until it hits a certain level”.
He further emphasized the importance of perseverance, especially in the midst of various challenges that may arise.
“The idea is to keep going and not give up even when you may get thrown a lot of curveballs’ ‘.
Looking back on his journey in business thus far, Nojiwa defines it as an interesting and greatly fulfilling one. For him, the successes, challenges, mistakes and lessons have all been a necessary part of his path.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a businessman. I just never knew how tough it would be. It never really gets easier. It’s tougher as you grow.
You just become equipped with the tools and experience from previous businesses so you are able to handle whatever challenges come with the next”.
Moreover, being a successful entrepreneur in his own right, Nojiwa has come to view success not so much as a destination but rather the fun-filled amalgamation of all the steps and moments on his journey.
“I want to have fun doing what I do so I enjoy the small wins. I enjoy every step, both good and bad. To me, success is having to experience it all and being able to say I enjoyed it.
It’s every step. All of it! At the end of the day, you’re going to look back and tell all those stories,” he said.
When he is not coming up with innovative ideas or attending business meetings, the entrepreneur and tech lover can be found spending quality time with his children, lifting some weights or simply enjoying the great outdoors.
“I’m a gym freak. I love being in the gym! It’s one place that relaxes me and I get to think about a lot of things while I’m training.
Also, I’m a biker. I own a couple of bikes so I get onto a bike and just ride. And obviously that also gives me time to think and to relax by myself. I really love the outdoors!”
What’s more, the businessman is deeply passionate about actively empowering and mentoring young men, all while playing his part in contributing towards the desired change in our society.
“Once a year, I take a bunch of boys camping. I spent 4 days with them teaching them how to be better men and how to navigate life as teenagers. The initiative started about three years ago and it’s growing every year,” he said.
The camp is also an opportunity for the youngsters to develop crucial skills as they engage in various character-building activities while also cooking for themselves and washing their own clothes.
As he continues to innovate, inspire and empower, Nojiwa is kept going not only by the sparkle in his children’s eyes but also by the idea of mortality. Hence, he values time, lives life to the fullest and strives to make an impact no matter how small.
“Mortality is a crazy thing. When you’re young and in your 20’s, you literally think you’re going to live forever. No, it’s the trick that the mind plays on you.
You’ve gotta be able to wake up and do what you’ve got to do. Get it done and live your dream now. Don’t procrastinate. You’re not going to live forever. Get it do