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Thabani’s story

The start of Inkanyiso School Shoes


“I grew up in rural KwaZulu Natal, in a village outside of KwaDukuza. I pride myself in knowing I am a product of my village, where you are taught the principles of Ubuntu, to share with those who are less privileged.

However, when I was younger, I did not yet know this lesson. Although not wealthy, my single mother was able to afford the things I needed to receive a good education. My friend Thabani, like many others, was from a family who could not.

Thabani was very intelligent and had a bright future. We were sure he would become a successful engineer. But he also did not own a pair of school shoes. He was teased and bullied and made fun of for this. And I was one of those who teased him.

Soon Thabani stopped coming to school until eventually he dropped out of school altogether. Years later, I was shocked to see him again outside a spaza shop. He was working as a sugar cane cutter with no formal education and no hope for the future.

For years I felt guilty for the role I played in Thabani’s life. Where I failed him, I would not fail another South African child. And so I started Inkanyiso School Shoes.

Since we began in 2016, together with our Partners for Prosperity, we have manufactured and gifted school shoes to over 6 800 children.

Inkanyiso School Shoes are more than just shoes. They represent pride, dignity and hope for the future.”

  • Nkanyiso Mngoma, Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Inkanyiso School Shoes