A stint in Dubai as a high-flying accountant wasn’t enough for Theo Baloyi, founder and CEO of footwear brand Bathu. He knew that SA needed a new, authentic retail brand that could be positioned globally

How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey? I started drawing sketches and sent them to factories. I was turned down 13 times because they didn’t believe my idea could work.

What excites you about business? The impact it can make on society and the knowledge that I’m creating jobs and contributing to the GDP of the country. We started from a room in Alexandra and now employ about 51 people.

What inspired you to start a shoe business? I love sneakers and wear them almost every day. I was travelling back and forth to the Middle East and one day, when I was stuck at the airport in Dubai, I struck up a conversation with a guy at the duty-free store. He told me he ran his own retail store. I asked him about his brand and realised that it related to his native country, France. So I asked myself how we’re telling our own stories as Africans – which led me to think of creating something original for us.

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