Theo Baloyi keynotes at the Top Empowerment Summit – Africa’s 2.0 Entrepreneur Icon

Theo Baloyi keynotes at the Top Empowerment Summit – Africa’s 2.0 Entrepreneur Icon

Written by Staff Writer




It’s that time of the year again and the Top Empowerment Virtual Summit is just around the corner – 14th & 15th July. And guess who will be joining the event for an insightful Fireside Chat? None other than the award-winning Founder of Bathu Shoes, Mr. Theo Baloyi! 

As a key entrepreneurial icon in Africa, and the 2020 Top Empowerment ‘Top Young Achiever’ of the Year winner, Theo will be giving a truly inspirational talk on building a proudly South African brand, reigniting hope and creating sustainable jobs. His journey as a young entrepreneur, the challenges and successes he has come across, makes for a much-needed dose of motivation during these tough times. 

Join Theo at this year’s Top Empowerment Summit


A Sneaker-rific Story of Success 

While living with his uncle in Alexandra, Theo completed a BCom Accounting degree and went on to work in South Africa for two years and then the Middle East. It was during his time in the Middle East that the 30 year-old accountant-turned entrepreneur saw a gap in the sneaker market. He noticed that on a global level there was something missing – an African sneaker brand portraying an authentically honest African story.

After months of researching and conceptualising, Bathu was born in 2015, launching 100 pairs of Mesh Edition sneakers to the residents of Alexandra, Soweto, Thembisa and Midrand. In 2016, after releasing another 400 pairs, the Bathu website crashed a mere four hours after the announcement of the release. To say the brand took off would be an understatement.

Despite the success of Bathu, it has not been an easy journey to the top. The success of his business encompassed a lot of risk, hard work and unwavering commitment. According to Theo, his biggest achievement has been risking all his savings and investing in his business, while quitting a tax-free salary in Dubai and relocating back to South Africa. Bathu currently employs 51 people and has four retail stores, all of which happened in a space of four years

“Our sole aim is to build a proudly African sneaker brand, reignite hope and create sustainable jobs. I’m of the opinion that we are on a journey to contribute immensely in the South African economy and help create more jobs. We penetrated an industry that has been dominated by international footwear brands for years, and we have managed to create a brand that is pro-African with a world-class look and feel.”

When it comes to money, Theo is of the belief that attaching oneself to money is detrimental for both business and mentality. He notes that it was his father, who passed away in 2014, who taught him not to become attached to money. This is one of the core principles Theo uses to run his business. “He used to tell me never to have an emotional relationship with money because if I lose R10, I will lament that loss. But if I have an intellectual relationship with money, I will think about how I will make my next R20. And that’s how I run my business to this day,” he explains.


Walking The Journey 

In terms of where Theo sees the company heading, he says that he would like to see Bathu having a good footprint in SADC and East Africa and having 130 employees. “We also want to optimise our value chain and end-to-end operations function,” says Theo.

After hard work, dedication and entrepreneurial finesse, Bathu shoes is now one of Africa’s most-admired sneaker brands, boasting 15 flagship stores across South Africa, and growing a turnover 73% in 2020. He has also had the pleasure of collaborating with famous celebrities, such as Somizi Mhlongo, Lerato Kgyaganyo and Khanyi Mbau – which has helped solidify the Bathu footprint. 

“The brand focuses on walking your journey. Working with artists and the talent comes from their journey and their passion points,” says Theo.


To read more about Theo’s incredible journey, check out the Impumelelo Top Empowerment 20th Edition publication here


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