Botswana’s shoe designer, 28 year-old Merapelo Manuhwa says that for a long time she has observed that when it comes to the fashion industry in the country, everyone flocks to clothes.
So she decided to give Botswana fashion a feel of something different, which is why she chose shoe making. She has always loved shoes, and her dream was to see someone manufacturing shoes in Botswana and this turned out to be her. “It has not been a long time since I introduced the shoe business in the country, I only started manufacturing in bulk early this year,” explains Manuhwa. Even though the business is new, the feedback has been impressive, so says Manuhwa, as people are always reaching out to her and sharing her work on facebook. She is based in Gaborone in Broadhurst. She designs and makes all kinds of shoes for both men and women as well as school shoes.
Manuhwa tells BG Style that hard work is essential in every road to success, and she also believes in perfection. She enrolled at the School of Shoe Making and Technology in Pretoria, South Africa where she learnt to manufacture shoes of different designs.
“I had to sponsor myself with P29 000 to enroll at the school after I was actually inspired by a friend in Harare, Zimbabwe, who also manufactures shoes. I like manufacturing goods and when the opportunity to go to a school of manufacturing shoes came, I grasped it because I knew that it was something that will not only benefit me but the country at large, in this era of shortage of jobs,” she explained. She emphasizes that as soon as she completed her course in November, she came back home and started practicing what she has learnt.
She is currently working with four employees, and welcomes any investor who wishes to help them to expand the project. “We are only five at the moment because the business is relatively new, and it is my belief that in the future we will employ more people,” she said. This energetic young lady is also the founder of ‘50 ways of making money in Botswana’ facebook page and she says that she believes in being hands on. This is why she also shares ideas with people through this platform. She believes that Batswana are talented but need such motivation to create jobs for themselves.
Manuhwa also tells BG Style that they wish to open a school of Arts and crafts in the future to extend this talent to anyone who wishes to join the industry or learn how to manufacture anything under arts and crafts. They also dream to supply their shoes in shops, as they make a variety of shoes, which provides an option to the consumers. “We make ladies sandals, closed shoes and men’s shoes too; women are very excited especially about their different types of sandals,” she said, adding that they have already started receiving orders from bulk buyers. “Some shops have also started approaching us for our profile and we are working around to submit to them,” she told BG Style.