When a close relative of Nkosi Maseko’s failed to secure a place at university, this entrepreneur from KwaZulu Natal realised that the lack of infrastructure at under resourced schools could keep children back from achieving their goals. More than 80% of public schools in South Africa are not equipped with science laboratories and this was just the incentive Maseko needed to invent MobiLab, mobile laboratory that can change the fortunes of science learners in future.
After extensive research into mobile laboratories, including talking to science subject advisors, Maseko built a prototype of what his MobiLab would look like. Throughout the process he relied on his savings and his wife’s salary to fund the project, after leaving secure employment at a commercial bank to pursue his dream.
After five years of effort, Maseko realised that he needed a champion to take the product forward and pursued none other than Pres Jacob Zuma to back his product. His persistence paid off and after demonstrating his product to the president, he was able to take it to the next level.
In 2015 Maseko was one of 20 finalists in the Transnet Moving Ideas Competition that focuses on the youth, women, the disabled and black SMMEs. The SABS Design Institute was instrumental in selecting the first group of 50 candidates, both individuals and SMMEs, who were put through a design-based programme to enhance their business ideas and to grow their existing businesses. From this initial group, 20 winners were selected to go through the complete design support programme. Maseko was one of these.
MobiLab is currently used in several schools and this good news story serves as an inspiration to other entrepreneurs to believe in their inventions and to do everything in their power to take them to market.