Theo Baloyi: From PwC Accountant to Founder of Bathu Shoes and Avenue Exchange

Theo Baloyi, born and bred in Pretoria, transitioned from a successful career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to becoming an influential entrepreneur. With a professional background in accounting, Theo spent five years at PwC, working in asset management, strategy, and financial management. His tenure included two years in South Africa and three years in the Middle East, specifically in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. This international experience provided him with a robust foundation in financial management and strategic planning.

In April 2015, Theo Baloyi launched Bathu Shoes from a small room in Alexandra township, using savings accumulated over his five-year career at PwC. His primary objective was to tell a proudly South African story through uniquely designed shoes. Theo identified a gap in the market for a shoe brand that would narrate authentic African stories. Prior to launching, he spent 18 months on research and development, quality control, and proof of concept for Bathu Shoes, ensuring the product met high standards of quality and authenticity.

The word “Bathu” is a South African slang term commonly used in townships to refer to any type of shoe. Derived from TsotsiTaal, an unofficial language blending Afrikaans and African languages, “Bathu” has historical roots in areas like Sophiatown, Sharpeville, and Soweto. Today, it remains widely used in South African townships.

Bathu Shoes are locally manufactured in Durban, with some components sourced from Lesotho and the East. Theo’s vision for Bathu Shoes extends beyond South Africa, aiming for a presence in Europe and South America. He aspires to have Bathu recognized globally as a leading African shoe brand, sharing its unique story with the world.

Despite the success of Bathu Shoes, Theo Baloyi revisited his roots in the fragrance business by launching Avenue Exchange. Located on Sandton City’s prestigious Diamond Walk, Avenue Exchange marks Theo’s return to his initial venture of selling fragrances in Alexandra township while studying for his accounting degree. The fragrance business was originally paused to focus on Bathu Shoes, but Theo’s passion for sharing the experience of a cosmetic boutique persisted.

Avenue Exchange aims to fill a market gap by offering reasonably priced, opulent, and high-quality products. Theo named the business “Avenue Exchange” to symbolize the exchange of energy with every sale, inspired by the avenues of Alexandra township. Currently, Avenue Exchange has stores in Pretoria, Sandton, and Venda, Limpopo.