Malatsi says, “Being able to participate in this esteemed event was such an honour. It was phenomenal to share our country’s unique creativity, energy and vibrancy. The Branson Centre’s support and practical advice, has given me the confidence to succeed and create jobs for many people.”
Hailing from Soweto, Malatsi says his success as an up-and-coming fashion designer wasn’t an over-night success story.
“Like many young South Africans, when I finished my studies I couldn’t find a job. So I started my own business instead. However, finding support to help me launch my fashion label wasn’t easy so I approached the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and received many networking opportunities to promote my business.”
That was in 2006. Today, Malatsi employs 18 people, has a store in Maponya Mall, Soweto and exports apparel to a fashion store in Regent Street, Cambridge, UK where he was ‘discovered’ by the London Fashion Week team after they saw his work at a local event.
“A core function of the Branson Centre is to facilitate opportunities for our alumni to network and gain skills from mentors in their industry, be they local or international” explains Tracey Webster, CEO of the Branson Centre, South Africa. “As such, our UK team jumped on board to help Lesego prepare for London Fashion Week.”
Webster goes on to say that entrepreneurship is about creating sustainable employment for others by working with them to maximise opportunities. “For example, we connected Lesego with two other Branson Centre entrepreneurs Freda Sebolai; Eclectic Collaborations and Folake Adejuyigbe; Lord's Hats & Accessories, who designed the collection’s accessories, jewellery and hats.”
Another player in Malatsi’s entrepreneurial success is Nina Quiros. An American entrepreneur who is part of the Virgin Unite global community of entrepreneurs, Nina came to South Africa in November 2010 and spent three months with Lesego at the Branson Centre.
Today she is regularly involved in connecting him with new business opportunities.
“In a country where unemployment is rampant and youth have little hope for their futures, we believe stimulating entrepreneurship is critical to boosting employment and fostering long-term economic growth. Lesego is testament to this vision and we are so proud of how far he has come as a South African fashion designer and entrepreneur,” Webster concludes.