Young entrepreneur dazzles in shoe washing business
The hard Covid-19 times have turned out good for an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering graduate who has put his career on hold to focus on a shoe washing business.
Staying in Gaborone where he studied his craft at Flying Mission Academy, Modiri Batlhalefeng, routinely passed by a small business which later became his inspiration to start Boomerang Shoe Wash in Maun where he was born and raised.
According to the 23-year-old, he was inspired by one Mmoloki Zilawe, who runs a similar business in Gaborone West, and whom he used to see washing shoes on a daily basis on his way to school.
“There was a guy in G-West where I used to stay. I saw him running the shoe wash business and I realised that I had never seen any such business back home in Maun,” he revealed.
Determined to adopt the idea, Batlhalefeng approached the potential mentor and explained how he wanted to develop the idea and eventually start operating in Maun.
“I bench-marked from him. After completing my studies, I worked with him for two-and-a-half months. I learnt how to wash shoes, what chemicals are used and generally customer relations” he explained.
Upon finishing his mentorship, Batlhalefeng whose intention was to make the shoe wash his side business, started job hunting. When he could not find anything, he diverted his attention to opening Boomerang Shoe Wash.
“We graduated in the tough Covid-19 times. So even securing a professional internship was very difficult as most companies had shut down. Some had laid off some of their employees. I tried looking for a job but we were told to wait until the Covid situation has abated and that was when I opened the shoe wash business,” added Batlhalefeng.
Boomerang Shoe Wash was officially registered in September 2020 and has been running ever since.
According to Batlhalefeng, he partnered with two other friends, with one customising shoes while the other takes care of the repairs. He has hired two more people, a receptionist and another one responsible for transportation.
“I started operating by Markus Filling Station. A year later I have opened another branch still in Maun in front of Lewis furniture’s. The people of Maun have been very supportive of me and my business is doing well” Batlhalefeng beamed.
To start up the enterprise, Batlhalefeng used the money from his two months internship as well as assistance from his family to buy the chemicals, brushes and to erect a structure he started operating in. His only challenge, he says, has been the unpredictable weather which has occasionally inconvenienced him with rains when the shoes require sunny weather to dry out.
“I used to have another challenge of buying the washing chemicals all the way from Gaborone, but I have since found a supplier here in Maun” said Batlhalefeng, who can be contacted on his Boomerang Shoe Wash Facebook page.