Job Creation – Molefi Nkwete
Entrepreneur, Mafia Soul owner
What started as a small business selling clothes and shoes from a bus rank to raise pocket money has grown into a big brand that is known for dressing celebrities like Steez, Zeus, Apollo Diablo, Eureka and Speedy.
Molefi Nkwete’s brand started off with him ordering sneakers and jeans from the USA back in the late 90s and selling them from the boot of his car.
The proud owner of five Urban Soul clothing stores, as well as franchise rights, Nkwete’s brand has become a household name with six stores in Botswana and one in Johannesburg.
He started his business at the tender age of 19, using funds from his monthly allowance while studying for a diploma in electronic engineering at the University of Botswana.
The determined young entrepreneur found a niche in the market — he realised there was a shortage of genuine American clothing brands in the market. He contacted a Zimbabwean friend based in New York, and asked him to send some popular US brands.
Nkwete’s friend became his supplier, and he began selling clothes from the bus rank as well as to his schoolmates.
His clientele grew rapidly and his stock sold fast. Soon Nkwete had made enough money to buy a car, and started selling from the boot of his car.
Urban Soul can best be described as a hip-hop home brand that celebrates Botswana’s urban youth culture.
Nkwete is particularly proud of the brand Rep Gabz, inspired by an American label, which has become the casual brand of choice for many local celebrities.
A role model who inspires youth to follow their dreams, Nkwete has also become a sought after guest speaker. Addressing graduates of Botho University in 2015, Nkwete encouraged the students to develop fresh business ideas and to persevere no matter what obstacles they encounter.
However, he is quick to point out that building a business has been an uphill struggle, and there were times when he would lose money as quickly as he had made it. He says although he lost a lot of money, he never focused on the loss, but rather on learning from his mistakes.
The courageous entrepreneur has great plans for the future and contemplates growing his business into the rest of the southern African sub-region. Nkwete says the SADC region has a great deal of wealth, and presents immense potential for a company like Urban Soul.