Founder and owner of Bathu, Theo Baloyi is seen at his sneaker brand warehouse in Midrand, johannesburg. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency(ANA).
Founder and owner of Bathu, Theo Baloyi is seen at his sneaker brand warehouse in Midrand, johannesburg. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency(ANA).

Sneaker brand Bathu aims to empower and employ young people

By Mpho Motaung Time of article published Jan 17, 2020

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Theo Baloyi, the owner of local sneaker brand Bathu, has shifted gears and aims to empower and employ 100 young people at his new factory in Tshwane.

Bathu sneakers have grown in heaps and bounds since their inception two years ago.

Baloyi, 29, plans to open seven stores, in addition to the five stores that are currently operational.

The new factory in Centurion will be a 3700m² building which will enable him to receive more stock and employ more people.

He intends to be more innovative and competitive by creating a sneaker playroom where people will be able to come and customise their own sneakers.

Baloyi, who was in the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list last year, confessed that his parents could not afford to pay for his accommodation at the University of Johannesburg in 2009, and he had to move in with his uncle and hustle to make ends meet.

“When I moved to Johannesburg in 2009, I did not have a place to stay, I was forced to live with my uncle in Alexandra because my parents didn’t have enough money to fund my student accommodation fees. I used to knock door to door in Alexandra selling perfume just so I could eat and sustain myself,” he said.

At the time, the Hammans- kraal-born entrepreneur was studying towards an accounting degree.

After he earned his Honours degree in accounting sciences, he got a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers audit firm in Joburg, where he worked for five years. It was during this time that he got a chance to relocate to Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

“When I was working in Dubai I would always remember my hometown and how people are struggling to make ends meet. That’s what made me want to come back and focus on Bathu, because I knew that it would ensure employment for some of my community members.

“I am a huge sneakerhead, I used to buy limited edition sneakers in Dubai and bring them back to South Africa. My friends were impressed by my collection, which is where I got the idea to create my own sneaker brand,” he said.

He then quit his job and headed back to South Africa to focus on Bathu, which was already operational.

He currently employs over 60 people.

Bathu started in Alexandra, it later expanded into different branches around the country and continent.

He said his journey was not easy as he kept getting rejected by factories as he tried to build a reputable brand.

“I worked on the concept for 18 months, doing research and development, speaking to factories and being declined 15 times. It was not an easy journey but I was persistent. I believe that we are successful because people identify with our story,” he said.

Baloyi said the future looked bright.

“I will change lives by creating employment and telling my story,” he said.

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