Entrepreneur in the making

SPEAKING at the opening of the Pan Africa Mall in Alexandra recently, President Jacob Zuma said there was a need for the economic development of townships.

SPEAKING at the opening of the Pan Africa Mall in Alexandra recently, President Jacob Zuma said there was a need for the economic development of townships.

Zuma went on to pay tribute to black business pioneers such as Richard Maponya, who has developed the multi-million rand Maponya Mall in Soweto.

And there are young people who are walking in the footsteps of giants like Maponya. One of them is 27-year-old Mangi Mbitshana - a designer who runs a young designer emporium in Mofolo central, Soweto, called Thesis.

Instead of being based in one of the busy malls, Mbitshana runs his business from one of those quintessential township corner-shops.

"We started by reassembling second-hand clothing and fought our way up. Our clothes represent the youth culture and music of Soweto.

"The name Thesis was thought up to break the line between school fashion and street fashion," said Mbitshana

"We also stock some items by Black Coffee, Jozimental and Keti among others.

"We don't see other brands as competition. Instead we welcome the opportunity to work together."

On approaching the corner shop one is greeted by a bright, orange setting - the walls adorned with graffiti.

The interior doesn't disappoint the eye either, mainly because of the array of denims, check prints and assortment of earings, bags and canvas shoes.

Thesis is not only a fashion outlet. It is also a rendezvous for young creative minds from the sprawling township.

Every first Sunday of the month they congregate at the venue to listen to poetry and music, and to engage on issues such as youth empowerment and job creation.

Just like any other entrepreneur Mbitshana is looking forward to the visitors who will attend both the Fifa Confederations Cup games and next year's World Cup.

"We are looking forward to the crowds that these events will bring to our shores, and we are hopeful that they will bring business for us.

"Most importantly, we are also looking forward to some cultural exchange with them.

"Soccer is a game of the youth and we hope that youth from other countries will come in numbers so that we can engage with them and share ideas on issues that affect the youth globally," said Mbitshana.

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