Humble beginnings for app developer

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As a schoolboy in Sheshego, Kholofelo Moyaba used his love of art and poetry to make some extra money. He made greeting cards and birthday cards on request and on special occasions, like Valentine’s Day or Mothers’ Day. He would make them in bulk and sell them for 50c each. He wasn’t aware of it then, but these were the beginnings of a future shaped for creative and entrepreneurial thinking.

Today Kholofelo is still doing creative things. With a degree in engineering focused on computers, it is no wonder that he was involved in the development of the GoMetro Android app that was launched in 2013. This app allows users to better plan their commute by giving them up-to-date train times and announcements. It has been downloaded more than a thousand times and has also won first place at Vodacom’s AppStar competition for South Africa.

Looking back Kholofelo realises that he would never have guessed that one day he would be involved in entrepreneurship. In fact, the idea of ‘entrepreneurship’ wasn’t even on his mind when he applied for a Foundation Fellowship back in 2009. He was merely exploring another avenue for funding his tertiary studies. Little did he know that in addition to getting funding, he was about to embark on a life-altering journey; one that would lead him to self-discovery, self-empowerment and living a life devoted to serving others.

Following his application, Kholofelo was invited for an interview with the Fellowship Selection Team. He recalls leaving that interview feeling confused – why so many penetrating questions? He was still thinking in terms of a straightforward bursary application.  When he met other candidates at the selection camp, however, things clicked into place. They were a diverse group of energetic, sophisticated and intelligent young people that were all about embracing enterprise and impacting Southern Africa. He was in awe of them and at the same time painfully aware of his own inadequacies.

A year into the Fellowship and his studies he acknowledged that his self-confidence was lacking and that it was the result of endlessly comparing himself with other Candidate Fellows. He didn’t know as much as they knew and couldn’t speak the way they did – using big words. At one point he even asked a Foundation staff member whether there had been a mistake, because he didn’t belong here. Rachel’s simple but powerful response had him in tears. He remembers her saying, “Instead of comparing yourself with others, focus on nurturing the potential we saw in you.”

Like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the next, Kholofelo first had to experience the extreme of overconfidence before balancing out. He started thinking of himself as awesome to such an extent that when he wrote a test badly he would still expect to pass because “Kholofelo always passes” or so he would tell himself. That mantra didn’t last too long and when the reality of a failed Maths test hit home, his ego was cut to size. Reflecting again on Rachel’s words he realised that having potential didn’t mean he was special. It required, instead, that he work hard to discover and develop that potential.

There was one more realisation that Kholofelo had to make on this inner journey of his. He needed to see that by keeping his ideas to himself he was paying a disservice to the world. Beyond having ideas and writing them down, he needed to do something with those ideas. He needed to develop them in service to the world.

Kholofelo’s journey is so characteristic of the Spirit of Significance, a Foundation Pillar defined as a weight of personality that comes from living a life of passion and integrity. It is a recognition that personal satisfaction comes from empowering oneself in order to serve others. The Foundation is very proud of Kholofelo’s commitment to his self-development and looks forward to seeing many more of his creative ideas in service to the world.

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