Lucky Moabi lives up to his name. He started at the bottom of a mine and is now an entrepreneur making money above ground.
Like thousands other school graduates in the platinum rich North West province in South Africa, Lucky Moabi had no other prospects but to join the procession of the unskilled labor on the road to the mines.
Moabi matriculated at Nkobong High School in Kraalhoek village, North West, and sought employment at the Swartklip mine, just a few kilometers from his home. Within two years at the mine, he was promoted from general worker to maintenance planner – a job he wasn’t qualified for.
“It’s not about the qualifications as such but it’s about the character that you have, what you’re giving to the company. You have to take ownership, even if you’re a cleaner… and do whatever you do with pride. Those efforts can never go unnoticed and you’ll be moved from one step to another,” he says.
In 2009, Moabi’s hunger for more saw him studying strategic supply chain management at the University of South Africa (Unisa). He burned the candle at both ends as he supplemented his mine salary with a small business selling computers.
In 2012, after completing his course at Unisa, Moabi took another short business course. At the age of 34, he quit his job to start the company, Moabi Lwazi.
“I told my boss that I’m resigning and I’m going into business. I didn’t have a registered company, I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I was going into business. How? I didn’t care,” says Moabi.
He started providing and repairing pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders for the mines and other government parastatals, such as Eskom and Transnet.
To grow his company, Moabi approached Dragons’ Den, a reality television show where contestants pitch their business ideas to secure investment from venture capitalists. Moabi offered 40% of his company in exchange for R500,000 ($35,000).
Getting that investment was a cinch compared to what he met when he went back to the mines looking for business.
Just like any other entrepreneur, Moabi came across many lows but his lowest was when he was out of business for two years, despite investing R850,000 ($60,000) from his life savings into machinery. The mines told him they were not going to support him unless he had that machinery.
“Two years passed and not even a single order was placed from them,” says Moabi.
That part of the journey caused sleepless nights for him. Although he came from the mining environment, Moabi struggled to open doors at the mines.
Moabi believes in learning until you stop breathing. Those hardships are what drives him and led to him changing the way he operates. Today, he is in the process of setting up operations in Botswana.
He is also passionate about helping others. He’s involved in the Innovative Minds program, which get successful members of the community to mentor high school children.
Despite being run by someone without a background in business, Moabi Lwazi has been alive for five years. This is the definition of persistence and consistency.
Moabi also recently started a record label, RAMM. There is no business reason behind this, he says, just his love and passion for music.
Moabi’s motto ‘nobody is born an entrepreneur’ is evident from his own journey. Money and qualifications shouldn’t be hindrances to success; having ideas that work is what makes an entrepreneur prosperous. – Written by Nomsa Legodi