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Shoemaker leaves a footprint

Written by Galoome Shopane
Funding from the National Youth Development Agency has helped a Bloemfontein woman become a successful business owner.

When Angela Mkhabela started repairing shoes, she never dreamt that she would one day be a successful businesswoman.

Mkhabela officially registered Goodhope Shoe Repairs and General 12 years ago. “I knew that I wanted to make it big, but I never thought it would be this great,” she said.

“But now that I am here, I want to take the business further and make it grow bigger,” she added.

Mkhabela works with all sorts of leather, from cow, goat, crocodile, ostrich and lizard hides, to create accessory wonders, such as shoes, belts, bags and wallets, and has recently ventured into jackets. Goodhope is one of the very few 100 per cent women black-owned companies in the country that manufactures leather goods from scratch.

Mkhabela said one of the challenges she has to deal with is the fact that people are surprised that “a woman is the one behind the desk waiting to fix their shoes”.

Nonetheless, she said her company and her products are getting positive feedback from customers. “People love our products and support us; it is really overwhelming.”

Most of Mkhabela’s customers come through referrals, a sign that Goodhope’s work is really appreciated by its clients.

Mkhabela’s venture has been so successful that she has opened a shop in the city centre of Bloemfontein in the Free State province, and aims to grow the business even further by adding four or five branches throughout South Africa.

She recently returned from a trip to China where she learnt about shoe manufacturing techniques, alongside other South Africans in the shoe manufacturing industry.

This entrepreneur said her secret to success is having a passion and love for what she does. “Being loyal to my customers and going all out for their needs” have helped establish the reputation that Goodhope enjoys, she added.

A much-needed boost       

Mkhabela received R50 000 in funding from the National Youth Development Agency in 2015, which helped her buy machinery.

“The funding was really helpful because it assisted me to increase production and afforded me the opportunity to hire staff to help me out because I used to work on my own,” she said.

While Goodhope currently has one part-time and two permanent employees, Mkhabela hopes to provide more employment going forward. “I want to see the business grow bigger and stronger, to the point where we manufacture about 5 000 pairs of shoes a month, from a big factory with a minimum of 300 staff members,” said Mkhabela.