June 2024 2nd edition

Ayashisa ama-tekkie for growing Sneaker Cleanic

Written by Neo Bodumela


In South Africa the word tekkie is generally used to describe sneakers, but Lesego Gumede’s Sneaker Cleanic business has ignited a flame of hope for a better future to his employees who wash sneakers on a daily basis.

Sneaker Cleanic is a shoe-cleaning business that started as a casual conversation between colleagues. 

“I realised that my [former] boss’s sneakers were clean when I was still working at a major clothing store. I questioned her about who cleaned them, and she told me that she paid someone R50 per pair to clean them. This made me decide to resign from my job and invest R2500 to launch Sneaker Cleanic,” he said.

What some may have considered a chore turned into a pot of gold for the 28-year-old who is determined to break new ground in the sneaker-cleaning business.

“All I saw was a hot business, ayashisa ama-tekkie,’’ he chuckled.

Shisa is an isiZulu word which loosely means something hot.

Gumede started the business in 2021 and now has two branches in Mabopane and Mamelodi, in Pretoria Gauteng. 

With its steady growth, the business has created seven jobs. 

It has also received assistance from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) in the form of marketing and product testing.

Gumede said to move the business forward, he decided to create his brand of sneaker cleaning products which are used at Sneaker Cleanic.

“Our Sneaker Cleanic journey is turning out better than I imagined. Two of our core values are customer service and quality work delivered on time.”

He added that his customers appreciated the Sneaker Cleanic staff who can clean shoes without damaging them.

“Another value that we have is accountability. Customers know that if mistakes occur on their shoes, we can certainly fix them.”

Despite the success of Gumede’s business, he too has been met with challenges along his journey.

“Some of our major challenges include financial assistance and mentoring. There is also a stigma associated with the sneaker-cleaning industry that it is not a sustainable business,” he said.

While complex challenges remain in this relatively new industry, Gumede’s dream remains simple.

“[My dream] is for the business to outlive me.”

Gumede is determined to succeed and create jobs for his community. 

Find more information on Sneaker Cleanic or to use their services:

  • Visit @Sneaker_Cleanic on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok 
  • Reach them via WhatsApp/phone on 068 299 5933 

Small business owners who are interested in receiving assistance from Seda should vist their local Seda office, contact 0860 103 703, logon to www.seda.org.za or send an email to info@seda.org.za

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