Read in magazine

Meet Nhlamu Ntabeni, the young and the restless. A social entrepreneur with a soul. His mission is not only to touch life, but also to transform living conditions in whatever way is necessary. Joe Makhafola sat down with the young and talented Nhlamu.

He is a University of Johannesburg alumni whose academics were in the space of public management, labour law, and property development and investment.

In the year 2015, he founded Moolow Group of Companies. The group of companies has a few subsidiaries; Prestige Security, Rubicon, Moolow Institute, and Moolow Construction. An innovative organisation that offers different specialties in construction, security services, training, business consultation, leadership development, and marketing.

Other than being an intellectual sharp-shooter, he has other traits of a sniper; he shoots for the stars and aims for the moon. Determined, patient, an unassuming man who remains humble and is convincingly influential, and preserves with a deep sense of commitment in whatever he lays his hands on and with gratitude. A family man and God-fearing, a powerful combination lethal to adversity.

As they say, “traveling forms a young man”. There is also another African proverb that says, “A young man who travels a lot is older than an old man who stays in the village”.

He has had the chance to reside in several South African cities and villages over the years, and his early exposure to travel has given him a wide perspective on the globe. As a result, considering his vast geographic reach, he must continue to be inventive in his roles as a corporate leader, a church leader, and an exceptional community leader.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” said Mark Twain. Nhlamu says traveling a lot while in high school somewhat brought a different view on life for him because he got accustomed to different cultures he was absorbing, like staying in India. “I managed to see life in a different light,” he says.

Nhlamu Ntabeni believes that what you deliver is what defines you. He is a strong believer in speaking life into yourself and doesn’t shy away from humble beginnings. He is a faithful husband to his beautiful wife, Lufuno Ntabeni, with whom he plans to share the rest of his life and dreams. Together, they remain grounded in the foundation of God, love, and family.

Food for thought

He serves on the board of Zero Hunger, which is an initiative that is affiliated with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Italy, which works with over 130 countries. It is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Food price is also another matter altogether. It’s a tricky business. Sustainability, while meeting the needs of present and future generations while ensuring profitability, environment, health, social, and economic equity.

“I joined the food and culture organisation under the Youth for Zero Hunger as a youth board member representing Africa to have a voice for African agricultural entrepreneurs and to have a voice on those platforms. Working with international people, no one cares about whether you are black or whether you come from an impoverished township. It’s all about what it is that you have to offer,” he says.

Conflict, economic shocks, climate extremes, and soaring fertiliser prices are combined to create a food crisis of unprecedented proportions. As many as 783 million people are facing chronic hunger. The scale of the current global hunger and malnutrition crisis is enormous. WFP estimates—from 78 of the countries where it works (and where data is available)—that more than 333 million people faced acute levels of food insecurity in 2023, and do not know where their next meal is coming from. This constitutes a staggering rise of almost 200 million people compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Nhlamulo has worked as a consultant in the engineering, mining, and technology sectors for both profit and non-profit enterprises. He has proven to be a capable leader in a number of organisations, including the Progressive Professionals Forum, the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals, and the University of Johannesburg Parliament. At the moment, his goal is to focus only on social issues impacting young people in business.

South Africa is a special country. Concepts such as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and preferential treatment hardly exist in a global competitive environment. You must bring something to the table, and it is best to smell the coffee very early in life and shy away from handouts. Life is a pyramid scheme. Those with special talents reside at the top, and Nhlamu seems to be on the money.

Leadership in action

Another heart-warming enterprise keeping him awake is the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

Through his Moolow Institute, which offers programmes for potential and existing entrepreneurs to capitalise on opportunities to start and grow sustainable businesses that form part of the mainstream economy accredited with Services Seta, Nhlamu is an ideal sort after strategic partner for his ex-offender rehabilitation programme involving communities, businesses, Institutions of Higher Learning, Non-Governmental Institution’s alliances with interested parties, and community service.

Similarly to the work of the Department of Correctional Services, one of its responsibilities is to facilitate employability in collaboration with the business sector, the intergovernmental sector, and community development structures. The Department assists parolees and probationers in securing employment by establishing partnerships with potential and relevant stakeholders.

“We focus on skills development solely designed for ex-offenders to help them be reintegrated into society. One thing that we have noticed through our studies is that once someone comes out of prison, there is some stigma attached to him or her that we have upon them, forgetting that these are the same people who got caught. Many of the citizens in the country have committed worse crimes, but they do not have the benefit of being processed by the justice system. We should never treat them differently; they are humans too. They have served their time. Our programmes are designed to empower them academically and help them to be self-sufficient outside of prison,” he said.

At the age of 29, life has not been without its punches. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He witnessed, on several occasions, gender-based violence from his step-grandfather, and that transformed him into the better man that he is today. Some would have continued the curse of woman abuse, as many men may have learned abusive behaviour growing up. His pillar of strength has always been his grandmother, his mother, and now his newlywed wife.

Nhlamu has overcome these adversities by being a motivational speaker who speaks at corporate events and churches and inspires those who need it the most. His talks are anchored in Bouncing Back.

“Our trajectory of success is inviable as we are surrounded by good support structures in the form of family, friends, and lifelong associates,” Nhlamu says.

In life, you will be pushed to the edge sooner or later. The urge to quit will kick in. But history will judge you on how you rose to the occasion, not how you fell.

“Until you have heard the taste of finishing, you will not respect yourself. Until you follow through, until something is done, come hell or high water. Tears of struggles and pain, and you go through it anyway, and you show up and you continue to fight no matter the circumstances,” said TD Jakes.

Joe Makhafola is the Marketing and Communications Executive and former spokesperson for the Minister of Communications.

By Editor