From retail salesman to entrepreneur

Milton Berle said, “If opportunities don’t knock, build a door.” That’s what Peter Motselela, the founder of Pido’s Tekkie Wash in Chiawelo, did after he lost his job in 2017. 

Stats SA reveal that the township economy provides livelihoods, employment, and income for approximately 2.5 million workers. South African unemployment, particularly in the township, is pushing young people to start businesses in the informal sector as a way to alleviate poverty. 

Peter, a young man from Chiawelo, after losing his job working for a retail giant, decided to start Pido’s Tekkie (sneakers) Wash as a way to earn an income. As a salesman, part of my job was to wash tekkies or polish shoes that were on display at the retail store. 

Working in a retail environment where you work long hours for little pay, no lunch hour break, you just eat and go back to work—an environment where you can lose your job anytime, where you deal with customers who break your self-esteem, where depression is just at your doorstep—that’s where Peter found his purpose; he was shaped and prepared for his entrepreneurial journey. 

Mostelela’s journey to entrepreneurship wasn’t an easy one; it was filled with challenges that would make the prospect of giving up attractive. When he started his journey, he had a challenge accessing the market. He would wash three pairs per week, and sometimes six in the month. At the current moment, he washes 10 pairs per week and roughly 40 pairs per month. Peter cites “that one of his biggest challenges was fighting with customers because they weren’t happy with how I washed their tekkies.” He further says that his customers were patient with me, and that allowed me to fix my mistakes and innovate how I washed their tekkies.” 

Pater says, “In 2022, that’s where I saw a breakthrough because I believed this business could uplift me to where I want to be.” 

Mr. Mostelela’s vision is to have a tekkie (sneakers) wash shop at the airport and also wash tekkies at Bathu and Drip stores for customers. 

Shoe polish initiative 

It all started when Pater took his kids to school. He then observed that most kids, particularly on a Monday, had their shoes not polished and other shoes torn. Pater said, “Through these kids, you’ll notice the socio-economic challenges, and that inspired me to start the initiative to polish shoes and make a difference in these kids’ lives.” 

Mr. Matselela further says, “As a community, we’ve identified some kids who needed new school shoes, and we were able to buy them.” 

“I know the feeling of going to school with a shoe that has a whole,” says Peter. 

The initial idea was to take this project to schools and polish shoes on the school premises that didn’t materialise the way it was planned. 

Peter asks big brands like Bathu and Drip to be part of this initiative and help empower school kids, and community members can also be part of this. 

The initiative to polish school shoes for free has been running for a year, and shoes are polished every Saturday. Pater says, “Don’t give up on your dreams.”

One Reply to “From retail salesman to entrepreneur”


I know pido for his great work ethics, He loves and respects his craft … Over the years of knowing him, i reference as a never giving up Champ no matter what his challenges are .

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