MEET THEO BALOYI: FOUNDER AND CEO OF BATHU SHOES COMPANY

He is an accountant-turned-businessman who has built a thriving sneaker venture that sells the shoes online and already has multiple physical stores across South Africa. In 2009, Theo relocated to Johannesburg to stay with his uncle in Alexandra while studying towards his BCom Accounting degree. Amid all the challenges, Theo had a goal to walk his journey and make it work, so he continued his studies and eventually graduated as an accountant. As a qualified Accountant, Theo has presented an opportunity to work at one of the top accounting and advisory firms in the world. Based in South Africa for 2 years, and later seconded to the Middle East for 3 years, it was during this period that this business idea rang into his mind. In his travels he noticed that there was something missing – an African Sneaker brand, portraying an authentic African story. So he got to work. In 2015, after months of conceptualizing, feasibility studies and being rejected by 13 different factories, the Mesh Edition Sneaker was born. Once in production, and having dealt with the rigorous 18-month processes of design, production, quality assurance, and financing related to the Mesh Edition, Theo founded the business – Bathu – meaning shoes in Kasi slang – and launched 100 pairs of Mesh Edition to the people of Alexandra, Soweto, Midrand, and Thembisa. The launch went incredibly well and the first 100 pairs of Mesh Edition were sold out quickly. Then in 2016 Bathu released 400 pairs of Mesh Edition which created pandemonium. So big was the release, that the Bathu website crashed 4 hours after the announcement and customers were clambering over each other to get their hands on a pair. In 2017, Bathu sealed its first corporate collaboration with an incubation hub in Johannesburg which led to the release of a further 1000 pairs of Mesh Edition sneakers. In that same year, Bathu launched it’s first limited edition Mesh Edition Sneakers in White, which sold out in days.

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