Youngster changes mobile game

The first cellphone model created by Lebogang Mokubela.
The first cellphone model created by Lebogang Mokubela.

One would assume an innovative person like Lebogang Mokubela has always asserted himself in the world of entrepreneurship.

However, if there was ever something he used to dread, it was school entrepreneurship events. As a self-titled disruptor in the business field, Mokubela left matric knowing fully well that university was not his destiny.

Trudging through daddy issues and a difficult upbringing by his grandparents, coerced him to pursue business.

Mokubela found a solution through starting an events business in 2009, a year after matriculating.

While Mokubela considers his greatest invention to be his daughter, Larona, it is his mobile phone that has had many a head turning on social media.

LIBRA was born from Mokubela's need to find a solution to an existing problem in an open market.

"My epiphany came when I realised how many multinational smartphone brands are operational in SA as compared to local brands. This was a problem to me. Yes, multinationals create employment but hurt the economy by taking cash outside the country," Mokubela said.

He said the name resonated with him because of the zodiac sign which is marked by natural leadership, charm and balance.

"Also, the ratio of multinational brands versus local brands operating in SA is very disproportional, hence the need to strike a balance."

Seeking to create premium phones at entry-level prices, LIBRA is Mokubela's attempt at creating opportunities and a product for all consumers to afford.

LIBRA offers a 128GB storage space, 4GB RAM, 10MP rear and 8MP front cameras and a dual-sim functionality. The phone is currently available online for R2,999.

Mokubela said he was "still waiting for approval" for licensing from the Independent Communications Authority of SA, having "applied for it about a-week-and-a-half ago".

To reach a fair price point, Mokubela has had to manufacture the cellphone outside of the country. He seeks to create an employment opportunity by launching a manufacturing factory in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, by 2030.

Mokubela is set on creating five more models for the brand and exporting them to even bigger markets in countries like Nigeria on the continent.

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