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Business / Economics

Theo Baloyi: From Humble Beginnings to CEO of Bathu Shoes, Inspiring Africa

todayJuly 8, 2024 15

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 Theo Baloyi, the dynamic CEO of Bathu Shoes, recently visited Namibia, sharing his inspiring journey and vision for his company and the African continent. Baloyi’s story is one of perseverance, vision, and a deep commitment to creating opportunities and igniting hope.

A Journey of Opportunity and Vision

“I am the first employee of Bathu,” Baloyi began, highlighting his recent promotion to Group CEO. Born in the impoverished Alexander Township in South Africa, Baloyi’s journey is a testament to the power of seizing opportunities. After earning a 100% bursary from Tomorrow Trust, he pursued a career in accounting, working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) both in South Africa and the UAE.

Despite his corporate success, Baloyi was deeply moved by the struggles of his community. He recalled, “Oftentimes when I went back home, I would see the reality flashing before my eyes. The reality was that a lot of people are unemployed, predominantly the youth and the people that I grew up with.”

Birth of Bathu Shoes

In 2015, driven by a desire to make a tangible difference, Baloyi left his job at PwC and invested his savings into what would become Bathu Shoes. “I asked myself, am I going to be a guy who’s going to come back home and bring about a solution to my community?” he said. Baloyi’s mission was clear: to build a shoe brand that Africans can proudly affiliate with, while also creating sustainable jobs and reigniting hope across the continent.

Challenges and Triumphs

Baloyi’s vision was not merely a business venture but a social mission. He spent 18 months researching the global footwear industry and identified a significant gap: Africa lacked a homegrown footwear brand that could stand alongside global giants. “We as Africans buy and consume so many sneakers. Yet, I couldn’t find one footwear brand from our continent that could be benchmarked with the top global brands,” he noted.

With this insight, Bathu Shoes was born. The name “Bathu” is a colloquial term for shoes in South Africa, resonating across diverse communities. Baloyi’s determination paid off as the brand grew from selling sneakers from the boot of his car to becoming a significant player in the African footwear industry.

Impact and Recognition

Today, Bathu Shoes is not just a brand; it’s a movement. Employing over 400 people, the company has been recognized for its significant impact. Baloyi proudly shared that Bathu was awarded “Job Creator of the Year” and named the “Most Admired African Brand” in 2023 and 2024. “Our vision to reignite hope and create sustainable jobs is not just a PR statement. We live it,” Baloyi emphasized.

A Vision for the Future

Baloyi’s commitment to African excellence extends beyond his company. He challenges Africans to build their own products, services, and value chains. “What are we as Africans going to do to start building our own? We are always at the receiving end. When is Africa going to wake up and build their own products and services, ecosystems, value chains, be innovative, and export that to the rest of the world?”

Baloyi’s story is a powerful reminder of the potential that lies within the continent. His vision for Bathu Shoes is not just about footwear but about creating a legacy of opportunity, innovation, and pride for all Africans.

For more inspiring stories and updates on African entrepreneurs making a difference, visit our website.


Written by: Leonard Witbeen

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