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Inspiring Conversations with Nohémie Mawaka of Aluuka and Lubembo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nohémie Mawaka.

Hi Nohémie, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Native to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), immigrated Canada at eight years old, youngest of four and raised by the world most funny, crazy and supportive parents a girl could ever asked for. Being born in a third-world country, yet growing up in Canada, gives you a dichotomous view of the world that pushes you to take advantage of every opportunity presented to you in the Western world and use innovation to support my ‘people’ back in Congo. I pursued my studies in Health but have always been extremely entrepreneurial in my desire to take risks, and think outside of the world’s bubble, and disrupt systems that help developing countries like the one I was born in.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The entrepreneurial journey is never smooth, one day you’re on top of the world, the next day you’re at the very bottom. However, given the support of my friends and family and my strong faith, I am always able to get back up and strive for the end goal. The greatest struggle with any enterprise, especially mine that have the potential for scale, is the starting capital, followed by getting users by-in, and then the day-to-day administrative stuff like legal and employees.

As you know, we’re big fans of Aluuka and Lubembo. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
I have many businesses that I am getting off the ground (lol). For now, I’ll share my top two:

Aluuka.com – Allowing western immigrants (diaspora) to pay for their loved ones medications in Congo directly to the pharmacy, cutting out the dependency of the middle wo/man.

Lubembo.co – we import organic Congolese honey from the Kikwit region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and sell it in the western market by starting with the California region. The honey is harvested by women, we buy the honey directly from them to bypass fair trade cost and overhead and advocate for an equitable buying price.

My brand has always been around using innovative resources to uplift the developing world within the realm of women’s health by starting with my native country of Congo. I have a strong focus on healthcare, recently diversifying into agriculture as it is the second-largest commodity in the DRC, and there’s a shortage of organic foods available in the west.

I would say that I’m very proud to always stick to my true mission: empower women in the Congo (DRC) through innovation and entrepreneurship. I want anyone who reads about me or read my IG page (@nohemie.co) to know that I wasn’t the girl who got straight A’s. Rather, I’m the girl who always sees gaps in this world and chooses to see opportunities through innovation and by being resourceful to solve these problems.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
By definition, entrepreneur means risk taker. I love risks. If I’m not failing fast enough, I’m not innovating, and I’m out of the game. The biggest risk I ever took was living in the East of Congo, Bukavu, which historically speaking has had its fair share of wars and high rates of rape given the presence of local gorillas. As a single female in my mid-20s, probably not the safest thing to do. But I had to do it. I won a $100K grant to pilot Stats Congo, my first startup which aimed to digitized medical records for hospitals in Bukavu serving women. Doing this, succeeding and failing, made me fearless moving forward. The best thing that could happen if you start a business you raise funds, raise awareness, and who knows you become a millionaire. Worst thing that could happen no one cares to buy or invest in your product/service, you shut your doors, and hopefully don’t loose all of your money, and you’ve just validated the idea that: no one wants this product/service, let me move onto the next thing.

Taking risks is synonym for lessons learned. You’ll fall, but get back up and learn. It won’t kill you.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
https://www.instagram.com/therealfabler/

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