South Africa has no shortage of successful entrepreneurs who have successfully taken their innovations to the shelves. 

Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented, these local businesses have not only managed to survive but are proof that great innovation and tenacity can arise out of difficult times.

Here are 5 of some of South Africa’s most successful retail entrepreneurs you need to keep an eye on.

Theo Baloyi, Bathu Shoes

Bathu Shoes is South Africa’s first black-owned sneaker brand. The brand has grown to an online store and 16 retail stores and over 300 employees.

The founder and owner of the business are Theo Baloyi who is currently one of South Africa’s most popular entrepreneurs. He has shared that he set out to build a sneaker brand that “Africans can proudly affiliate with”.

The colorful sneakers, with a distinct design, are popular among fashion lovers. Unsurprisingly, Bathu Shoes was recently ranked number 10 of the Top 100 in Brand Africa’s Most Admired African brands.

Portia M Skin Solutions, Portia M Skin Solutions

The Portia M Skin Solutions brand was created by local entrepreneur Portia Mngomezulu.

The brand, which was inspired by Mnogomezulu’s scarring during pregnancy, now includes a skincare range made up of 12 products for both men and women, and a baby range of five products. The business employs 27 full-time staff.

In 2018 Mngomezulu was awarded Pick n Pay’s 2018 Small Supplier of the Year award for her business’ exceptional growth performance and job creation.

The annual award recognizes and rewards the company’s top-performing small suppliers in the country across various categories.

SwiitchBeauty by Rabia Ghoor

Rabia Ghoor launched her beauty brand SwiitchBeauty as a teenager. Today it’s one of the biggest proudly African women-led beauty brands and is well on its way to becoming a make-up and skin-care empire. SwiitchBeauty is a Pretoria-based make-up brand targeted at South Africa’s millennials and Gen Zs. It aims to fill the gap in the local market for affordable luxury make-up with prices ranging from R80 to R450.

Her products are manufactured overseas and marketed to appeal to the young beauty target market.

Sihle Magubane, Sihle’s Brew

Sihle Magubane is the owner of Sihle’s Brew – the first South African black-owned coffee brand. The business has catapulted into success after launching seven products on Pick n Pay shelves last year. Sihle’s Brew now employs 23 people and has been able to hire nine more people since his products went on the shelf at Pick n Pay.

Magubane now also produces coffee for Pick n Pay’s ground coffee which is available in over 500 stores.

Magubane started out as a barista. After getting his International Barista Skill Certificate he launched his own coffee brand, Sihle’s Brew Roasting Coffee, which included a range of coffee beans sourced from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Native Decor, Vusani Ravele

Native Decor manufactures African-inspired homeware, home accessories, and gifts. The products, made from sustainable timber, are visually pleasing, innovative, and functional.

This company was founded by Vusani Ravele who started the business as a part-time hobby. Some of the products they make are magazine holders, coffee pod holders, lighting, mirrors, and wall art, all in a minimalist and urban style.

This month we’re celebrating different heritages across nations and their flavors of entrepreneurship! For more entrepreneurship news, visit SME Articles.