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Meet Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro, a self-taught cobbler

Meet Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro, a self-taught cobbler
A local shoemaker from the small  village of Ga-Nchabeleng in Limpopo,  Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro, 33, is  aiming to make his mark on an  international platform. 
Lekgoro, the founder and director  of Tlotlego Handcrafts is a self-taught  cobbler who manufactures genuine  leather shoes, leather belts, earrings,  and wooden leather bags. 
Tlotlego Handcrafts was established in 2016 for the purpose of alleviating poverty through job creation and skills development.

“Shoes are a necessity. Everyone needs shoes and I realised that in South Africa, there are a few people who make formal shoes. I saw the gap in the market and seized the opportunity,” said Lekgoro.
Formal shoes by  Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro. Picture: Supplied

“I also realised that starting a  shoe-making business would have  a positive impact on job creation as  unemployment is still a major issue  in our country, especially among  the youth.”  He caters to both men and women  but still experiences challenges when  it comes to manufacturing women’s  shoes.
Tlotlego Handcrafts also makes handbags. Picture: Supplied

“Due to the challenges faced,  we’re only making shoes for men but  our primary goal is to cater to both.  What’s hindering us from making  ladies’ shoes is that we don’t have all  the necessary equipment. However,  we do make unisex sandals, belts,  handbags and wallets,” he explained.

His ultimate goal is to take his  craft to big retailers.

“The challenge that we have is  that we need machinery and then  we’ll be able to make at least 10 pairs  a day since there’s only two of us  working on the brand,” said  Lekgoro.  From humble beginnings, Lekgoro  has gone on to showcase his craft  at different exhibitions that include  Sanlam, Sarcda Trade Exhibitions, as  well as Decorex.
“I have exhibited at Decorex twice  already and it was such an amazing  experience because I met other  cobblers from Italy who inspired me  a lot. I learnt a lot from them because  seeing how good their craft is also  motivated me to up my game and  work harder,” added Lekgoro.
Stylish sandals by Tlotlego Handcrafts. Picture: Supplied

Speaking of Italy, the talented  Lekgoro has been granted an  opportunity to study for a year at one  of the leading shoemaking schools in  Milano called Arsutoria but he needs  financial assistance to pay fees.
Lekgoro  also wants to open a warehouse  where he’ll employ young people  and produce shoes, including school  shoes.

“Our long-term goal is to  expand to a manufacturing factory  which will be fractioned into two  main enterprises. One enterprise  will be mainly for hand-crafted  shoes, the other one will deal with  manufacturing of school shoes using  industrial machinery.

“Our aim is to manufacture  affordable quality school shoes that  will fit and match the pockets of all  individuals regardless of their class,”  he said.