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No more dirty sneakers, says’s founder Charles Mudima
Author: Faculty of Science (Wiida Fourie-Basson)
Published: 16/11/2021

​Are you still walking around with dirty sneakers? Then you probably have not yet heard of, the brainchild of Stellenbosch University (SU) student Charles Mudima.

With a vision of cleaning up to 1000 students' sneakers per year by 2022, and expanding the business to aother South African universities by 2025, Charles will be representing SU at the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity Finals in Johannesburg this Thursday 18 November 2021. He had to compete against 150 regional finalists from all public universities in South Africa for a seat at the finals.

The Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme is hosted by the Department of Higher Education and Training in collaboration with Universities South Africa. The purpose of the competition is to identify the top student entrepreneurs at each university, showcase their businesses and invite investment. The competition is supported by the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and the SAB Foundation.

Charles, a second year student majoring in Computer Science and Geographical Information Technology, says he started the business earlier this year when noticing so many students walking around with dirty sneakers. After engaging with some of the students and some additional market research, he identified a gap in the market for a sneaker cleaning service at SU: “Learning from YouTube hacks on how to clean sneakers, we have to date cleaned over 165 pairs of sneakers and have served more than 100 students. Next year we plan to service 1 000 students, including sports teams, and ultimately to expand the business to five other South African universities," he says.

Currently employs four co-workers: Zina Nazer, a second year BA in Humanities student, Lunga Momoza, a third year BA in Social Dynamics student, Esihle Vellem, an Engineering graduate, and Vuyani Ndlovu, a final year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student. This involves collecting the dirty sneakers from their owners, currently by bicycle, washing it and then retuning the clean shoes to their owners, as well as managing the business' social media accounts and finances.

“It takes faith, hard work and courage to believe in a simple idea such as cleaning sneakers," he admits. “But for anyone who dreams of owning a business: you have to start small, work hard, and believe in the craziest ideas you might have."Apart from studying and growing the business, Charles also collaborated with Goodforthesole, a Cape Town-based non-government organisation in a shoe collection drive : “Last month we asked the student community to donate previously worn shoes. We collected them, washed them and then donated them to the Local Surf Lounge Academy in Muizenberg. As the business continues to grow, we want to give back to the community ," he adds.

Charles grew up in Zimbabwe and migrated with his family to South Africa in 2009 when in grade 3, but preferred to complete his secondary studies at Marist Brothers Nyanga High School in the Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe. At this Catholic-run school, established in 1962, he says he experienced significant growth in his studies, entrepreneurial skills and a rich spiritual life with an appreciation for the simple things in life.

Between his academic studies, serving on Dagbreek's house committee and managing,  he has more than enough on his plate. Yet he will always make time to help others.

Looking towards the future, this young man with his sparkling white sneakers hopes to pursue a career in aviation: “I love mathematics, but I also have a passion for aviation. With my studies, I have come to experience that mathematics can be applied in various fields and industries. This made me realise that most problems can be quantified and solved from a mathematical perspective. With I use mathematics for spatial analysis and creating financial projection models. Maybe I can do the same in aviation," he concludes.

Photo credit: Stefan Els