Businessman is a ‘shoe-in’

2016-04-12 06:00
Maseru Mountain Leather works owner Paul Makhakhe and  staff member Zenzele Mkhumbuzi with the shoes they make. Photo: nosipho mkhize

Maseru Mountain Leather works owner Paul Makhakhe and staff member Zenzele Mkhumbuzi with the shoes they make. Photo: nosipho mkhize

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BEING unable to finish school did not stop Paul Makhakhe (50) from following his passion of being a shoemaker.

Born and bred in Lesotho in a village called Maseru was difficult for him because his father was the bread winner and had eight mouths, including his mother, to feed.

“I left school in Standard 1. I was the oldest child in my class. It wasn’t a choice of whether I would continue with school because my father could no longer pay for my school fees.”

After dropping out of school in 1982 he started looking for part-time work at the Maseru market.

“I was fortunate to find a job repairing shoes. I worked there until 1985. Then my employer told me she feels that I am underpaid judging by the way I work so she suggested I find my own stall and start my own shoe-repair business.

“In 1987 I met a guy from Mozambique who worked under a Portuguese shoe company called Salvador. He was generous because after work he trained me in making shoes from scratch, for free, and even trained me in his spare time.”

Makhakhe imported leather and other materials from Durban, however he saw that it was expensive and he did not make a lot of money in Lesotho so he moved to Durban.

“I moved to Durban to John Ross House. At that time my business was called Paul’s Shoes and everything was going smooth until some of the people I worked with misused the money made from the business and I lost a lot of money.

It was the most difficult time of my life because I had to close my business and I was forced to go back to Lesotho with the little money I had.”

He said he had to gain strength and be positive regardless of the downfall land and in 2011 decided to get back on his feet.

“I came back to South Africa in 2011, telling myself it was not the end of the world. I have a family to feed and they depend on me as the man of the house.

“I managed to get a job at Shoe Africa. Then in no time I started another company called Maseru Mountain Leather Works in New Germany where I live with my wife and children.

“Even though we have challenges, I am positive because I love what I do. As a result I am planning on training people in shoe-making in order for the business and skill to keep growing.

“I have faith and a passion in what I do and I would not trade it for anything. I always tell people to never give up on what they love, because one day things will fall into place.”

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