“I’ve always been a curious kid, fascinated by technology, but I was born in a community that didn’t have the resources to nurture that desire to learn more,” says Ntsako Mgiba. “So when my parents decided to move to Johannesburg and enrolled my brothers and I in Model C schools, I was afforded the opportunity to explore those curiosities.”
The 23-year-old is the co-founder and CEO of Jonga, a security system for low-income areas. Following a personal encounter with burglary, Mgiba fused his training in mechatronic engineering and interest in entrepreneurship to “restore dignity, security and peace of mind to communities that are often seen as perpetrators of violence in South Africa”.
“I believe my career as a social entrepreneur has a direct impact on society. At Jonga we develop low cost, community-based home monitoring solutions for low income communities. We’re targeting them specifically because for far too long affordability has been a major barrier for them accessing security so they’re a largely underserved market. Through providing our product I hope that communities will become empowered to come together and form neighbourhood watches that protect themselves,” he says.
Currently pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science at UCT as a Mandela Rhodes scholar, Mgiba clinched the first prize in numerous entrepreneurship challenges on- and off-campus. The Jonga team were winners in the 2017 edition of the Santam Safety Ideas competition and Mgiba recently shared this innovative South African product on the Web Summit stage in Lisbon, Portugal.
Mgiba’s successes are, he says, driven by his passion for people. “I would always be drawn towards leadership positions and take every opportunity that I could find that allowed me to interact with other people. I wanted to always find a way to bring those two passions together. Through running a social enterprise that uses technology to empower communities I’ve managed to find that balance,” he says.
“What also drives me into action is knowing that there are people who are completely vulnerable to crime and that there is nothing they can do about it because current security solutions are too expensive. I believe this to be a great injustice as everyone has a right to safety and security.” — Carl Collison