Tech entrepreneur takes the classroom to the student

With Lightbulb Education’s mobile app pupils can access content, complete assessments and have live chats with teachers at the click of a button and in the comfort of their home.

By Khanyisa Tyelela

Never before has being “online” been more important. Shopping, exercising, meetings – even family dinners have had to embrace the digital domain. But businesses like Lightbulb Education have been embracing the digital world for some time now.

Allan Mushabe was born and raised in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape and he is the founder of Lightbulb Education. Mushabe holds a MSC electrical engineering degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and previously worked at Telkom South Africa as a technical product developer. After that, he worked as a technical sales executive at Altech Technology Solutions.

Lightbulb Education is a mobile application that provides learning management system services to schools, institutions and organisations. It was born out of the desire to give access to educational tools and resources to students across South Africa.

“I saw a need for online education as the next evolution of education and training. Because I worked in telecommunications, I understood the foundation and infrastructure requirements and realised that the next steps were to build services that run on that infrastructure with education being one of them,” says Mushabe.

One of the biggest challenges that South African public schools face is access to technology and resources.

The platform is easy to use and both students and tutors can connect via the internet from a mobile device or computer. The students are able to view content, complete assessments, and have live chats with tutors and lecturers.

“My main goal is to create solutions that impact the future. I strive to provide students across the country with access to quality resources, educators and support,” says Mushabe.

It’s business as usual for some businesses in South Africa amid the nationwide lockdown, and luckily Lightbulb Education has been ‘booked and busy’!

His corporate clients are doubling up on his platform as they are now moving everything online – induction, internal training and training policies. You name it – it’s going online.  

“Ironically, now during the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate clients we had presented to without success have been contacting us to use our services,” says Mushabe.

“Usually the users on our platform sit around 30%, but now it’s grown to 120%.”

However, with positives will also come challenges and the Lightbulb team have come across their own set of challenges due to the increase in clients.

“The one thing we never prepared for was the large influx of usage and the Rand vs Dollar because our servers are situated abroad. But we’re trying to balance it out and see what’s possible,” says Mushabe.

When I asked Allan what keeps him going, he didn’t even hesitate with his answer: “Knowing that I built something from an idea I had, made it work, and actually got people to pay me to use it. But most of all when students who use(d) my platform see the impact in their results and learnt from it,” says Mushabe.

One of these proud moments was witnessing Khea Du Preez, a long-time and diligent student at Lightbulb, excel in the programme.

“The number one memorable moment for me was witnessing Khea’s growth from averaging at 60% to 90% at the end of her grade 11,” says Mushabe.

Mushabe was chosen out of thousands of applicants to join the FNB Social Entrepreneurship Impact Lab. The FNB Social Entrepreneurship Impact Lab is a development programme that aims to support the growth of social entrepreneurs who are tackling pressing social, environmental, and economic issues in South Africa.

The 18-month programme provides business support solutions that will assist entrepreneurs to significantly change their growth trajectory and achieve the full potential impact of their social enterprise.

 “Through the FNB Social Entrepreneurship Impact Lab I have found different methodologies to market and gained access to new markets.”

True to his social entrepreneurship drive, Mushabe also prides himself in being environmentally friendly.

“Our biggest impact is that we reduce the cost and logistics of training and learning. We make training and learning more accessible and available to users. from anywhere. EdTech reduces the overall carbon footprint. There is no need to print notes, tests, worksheets and textbooks,” says Mushabe.

Lockdown and COVID_19 have not slowed Lightbulb Education down and there have been new prospects and developments on the horizon for the business.

“We managed to secure a client from a North American competitor by providing better technology and better support services to them. We hope to start expanding our services to clients in the rest of Africa and making cloud-based learning a reality for learners, educators, schools, and other organisations,” says Mushabe.  

Mushabe’s ultimate goal is to become a leading EdTech provider on the African continent and advices other entrepreneurs to never stop chasing their dreams.

“Don’t give up and never take failure too seriously, learn from it and improve on it the next time around. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of patience and you must push through and keep at it.” says Mushabe.

South Africa is full of potential and opportunity and entrepreneurs like Allan Mushabe are the shimmers of hope and light that we all need.

For more information visit Lightbulb Education’s website or email

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