Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro is the founder of Tlotlego Handcrafts based in Burgersfort, Limpopo. He is a self-taught shoe cobbler who manufactures genuine leather shoes, leather belts and wooden leather bags. We learn about his career, business and challenges along the way.
Please kindly tell us who is Ike Lekgoro?
I am a 33-year-old from Ga-Nchabeleng village in Limpopo. I am a typical rural boy and I started mending shoes from a young age for people in my village. This is a God given talent.
Tell us about your educational journey.
My schooling journey started at Tseke Primary and I matriculated at Mokhulwane Secondary School. I have several business training certificates from Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA) and National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Please kindly tell us about your transitions from school/work into business.
I was unable to further my studies after my matriculation because of lack of funds. I was unemployed for many years this became my motivation to take my shoe cobbling hobby and craft seriously. My passion and desire to break the chain of unemployment led to establishment of Tlotlego Handcrafts in 2016.
What motivated you to start your own business?
My passion for creative arts drove me to start my own brand. I thought of a niche and something that will be beneficial for me but mostly the community at large. I embarked on the idea of Handcrafts. I started selling handcrafted neck pieces, earrings, sandals and handbags on the streets.
What are the challenges you encountered when establishing your business?
My biggest challenge when I started was selling on the streets. People do not take hawkers seriously and the market is not readily available for crafts in the villages. I did not have resources like machinery and funds to procure materials used in my craft.
How did you overcome the challenges thus far?
I had a desire to turn my life around and to escape the poverty I saw every day. My focus was to start a proper business and no amount of rejection could stop me. I told myself that I am young and it is up to me to move forward or give up and be poor for the rest of my life. I eventually got a breakthrough in 2017 when the Municipality gave me an industrial machinery. I got an opportunity to exhibit my products at Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA) exhibition events in 2017 and 2018. I also received industrial machinery from National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in 2019 and I got motivated to take my business to greater heights.
What makes Tlotlego Handcraft unique from other companies?
Tlotlego Handcraft as a brand is unique because it brings new perspective in the shoe manufacturing industry. We aim to manufacture affordable quality school shoes that will fit and match the pockets of individuals regardless of their class. The brand represents a traditional luxury man’s footwear, belts and wallets, which advance and maintain the essence of credible natural art of handcrafting.
What are your business aspirations?
We at Tlotlego Handcraft aspire to be a leading brand in Limpopo and expand our presence into the rest of South Africa and beyond.
Tell us about your achievements thus far?
In 2018, I was invited on Thobela Fm’s Boswa le Bokamoso show to inspire young people. The recognition and support I received from Sekhukhune Municipality, LEDA and NYDA are my greatest achievements thus far.
What advice would you give to young people?
Every path has it’s on potholes and challenges therefore self-motivation, determination, hard work, focus and consistency is key to success.
How can our readers find you and your business on social media?
We are Tlotlego Handcraft on all social media platforms and can also visit our website www.tlotlegohandcraft.co.za or my Tweeter handle: @ikeLekgoro.