Gabriel Phinda, a Batswana entrepreneur born in Botswana and currently lives in the United Kingdom has taken the footwear industry by storm with his sneaker brand X-manhunt.
Gabriel was born in Gaborone the capital of Botswana and later migrated to the neighbouring country South Africa, where he studied at the North-West University. He was a university lecturer before he became an entrepreneur. In 2021, inspired by his upbringing, he launched his own footwear brand, X-manhunt. The brand was launched in England and has since expanded to his home country Botswana and South Africa including other African countries and as well as the United States of America.
Speaking of what inspired him to establish his own footwear brand, Gabriel reminisced about his past growing up as a kid who had to walk miles to go to school: “What inspired me to start my own footwear brand is the fact that during our time growing up we used to walk to school for long distances on barefoot in winter and I have always dreamt of one day owning my own shoes so that I can help the needy and help those who can’t afford a shoe have access to affordable sneakers,” he told The African Dream
Gabriel also says he was inspired by the richest black musician in the world, Kanye West and BK Proctor a fellow countryman in the footwear industry.
Gabriel says they designed about four different models of X-manhunt and a pair of X-manhunt would cost you 35-70 British Pounds; that’s almost 50% cheaper than a pair of Nike sneakers on average.
X-manhunt or Axe Manhunt, the name of his sneaker brand and apparel was inspired by the lifestyle in London, according to Gabriel. He says, “The name X-ManHunt was inspired by the London lifestyle as a story that is shared by most residents in London who are always on the run for existence and X-manhunt basically means if you don’t catch up with the speed of the hustles in the street the axe will chop you off existence.”
As the global sneaker market is projected to reach and said to be valued at approximately £56 and is predicted to grow up to £85 billion by 2026, Gabriel is set to explore deep into this global opportunity by penetrating the global sneaker market. The Batswana entrepreneur says in the next five years he sees his brand competing with leading global sneaker brands and also creating more jobs for many Africans back home. He added that “we plan to open chain stores in and around Africa and the whole world at large.”
Of course! There are challenges faced by African entrepreneurs like Gabriel. The challenges are endless but for Gabriel, the lack of support from fellow Africans is one of his toughest challenges as many Africans prefer foreign brands like Nike. Another major challenge, according to Gabriel is the stiff competition his brand faces with leading brands. Even though the support back home is not encouraging, Gabriel says his brand receives more support from Western countries than African countries. But he is not letting this get into him, he says. “We cope by keeping on the fire burning, never giving up on the dream and keeping inspiring the youth and the masses at large,” he told The African Dream
I wrapped up my interview with Gabriel by asking him what is his message to young people in Africa, he said: “My message to the youths and young entrepreneurs in Africa is to always believe in their dreams and go for them, never give up and always have hope because at the end of the day, if you put in the effort and focus on what you want to achieve, the results will surely follow.”