Africans must embrace local products and services

Africans must embrace local products and services

South African businessman and founder of Bathu Shoes Theo Baloyi has said for a very long time, Africans have been consuming brands that are not from the continent. 

It is about time that narrative changes.

The entrepreneur, who launched his shoe (sneaker) brand in 2015, said changing the habit of consuming products from elsewhere and making products consumable is going to take some time. 

This is where Baloyi’s brand not only considers the current consumer, but looks at the long-term picture.

“The biggest mistake brands make is they only look at the current consumer. But we looked at one future consumer, and asked ourselves who the consumers are 10 years from now,” said the 35-year-old entrepreneur.

Baloyi was the guest speaker at the fourth edition of the Business Summit, hosted at the Roman Catholic Hall this past weekend. 

Addressing prospective and existing Namibian businesspeople, he explained that along with his team, they decided to take corporate proceeds and plow them into worthy social investments.

“As Africans, we consume so many sneakers right now. Ask yourself, what is that brand, and where does it come from? I bought a lot of sneakers too. They say if you can consume something in abundance, why not contribute to the value chain and own it because you can? So, I conducted 18 months of research, and did just that,” he recalled.

He indicated: “Our first target was those going to primary school. They don’t know what life is. They only got to the first grade because their parents told them to. Ten years later, that child or learner has the potential to be the Trevor Noah of tomorrow or the Barack Obama, and it wouldn’t be a shocker when brands start teaming up with the big names because the brand has been investing a long time, and it’s not a matter of now”.

An accountant by profession, Baloyi hinted that business owners should be careful with their lifestyles, and save as much as they can to properly inject funds into their ventures.

At the same event, founder of the summit Martin Nankela said the purpose of the conference is to create a networking platform for those in the industry to exchange ideas and, where possible, to collaborate.

“We want to have conversations around scaling, and the importance of what entrepreneurship can do for the economy. We don’t want side-hustles, but to see people improve themselves through entrepreneurship,” he said.

He added that for the past four editions, summit organisers have noticed notable progress in businesses and operational aptitude. “We have encouraged a few people to start their businesses, and those who kept their businesses small, we have motivated them to scale. There is encouragement to continue with this, and provide information they require to make their business more profitable,” said Nankela.