"I think we can have a say in this market here in South Africa" - Dumisani Masilela

Meet Rafime sportswear brand owner Dumisani Masilela

Rafime (Pty) Ltd is a South African sports and footwear company founded on the fourth of March 2022 by Dumisani Masilela.

It is a company born in the township with the aim of becoming a dominant sports and footwear brand not only in South Africa but across the globe.

The company designs, manufactures, markets and sell its own branded sports, active and footwear.


Q: First of all, can you please tell us about yourself and how your entrepreneurship journey started?

A: My name is Dumisani Masilela. I am from a small rural town called Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga. That is where I was born and raised, I attended primary and secondary schooling there. I went on to do post matric studies at the University of Cape Town between 2008 and 2013 where I studied Film and Media Productions. And further did a post graduate diploma in marketing at the same institution.

I wasn’t really a person who was into entrepreneurship at first, but my first year of varsity introduced me to a number of people who hailed from entrepreneurial background or had family members who were into business. I was inspired from then to explore this path, so I did. On my belt, I have a lot of failed businesses, some didn’t even got off the ground. The first company I registered was in 2008. The company didn’t even get off the ground because of failure to raise capital, and also studies as well did not really give me room to attend to the needs of the company. So I ended up abandoning it. The second company I registered was in 2011 in my final year of undergrad. This time I wanted something that was not capital intensive. So I launched an online platform for connecting students and companies where companies will recruit final year students, and also list the bursaries and internships, The site was free for students and companies.

The aim here was to generate revenue through advertising. I ran the company for the whole of 2012 but I wasn’t making money from it. It required a lot technical skills of which I had little off, mostly what I knew was what I have learned from YouTube tutorials. So my skill set of operating a website was limited. Later in 2012, I decided to go back to school to do post grad. I applied to UCT and was accepted to do a Post grad diploma in marketing. So the whole 2013 I was in varsity. Even though I had previous failures in business, I still wanted to try new ventures going forward. After my post grad studies, I was offered an internship by the Department Of Education, which I took. The internship was for the period of 12 months. During that 12 months, I explored a number of businesses. I remember one of them was to supply packaged meals for the Government Feeding Scheme Programme. Between 2014 and 2015 there were a lot of cases of food poisoning in government schools feeding scheme programme. I remember a number of learners in Limpopo and part of Gauteng died because of this. This was because of fighting for tenders in supplying the feeding scheme programme.

So I wrote a 30 page proposal to the Department of Education. I proposed supplying the feeding scheme programme with precooked packaged meals instead of having food prepared in school premises because that is where most of problems of food poisoning started from. So my idea was to set up a centralised “food factory” where we will prepare meals and package them. Just like what they do in the army. In a centralised place, you can have proper health and safety standards because its a controlled environment. The proposal was shot down immediately. So I didn’t bother to follow it up because I meant to disrupt an already established supply chain in Governement and I was ambitious, but I was just trying my luck.

So between 2016 and 2020 I did a lot of odd contract jobs, from selling insurance to selling pharmaceutical products, on the side I was also upskilling myself with coding. Currently, I work for a government department of which I can’t name. That’s how I am funding Rafime. Ultimately, the goal is to get the company to a level where it can sustain itself. Our growth strategy is very aggressive and we aim to rapidly grow the brand in the area of the market where most of the sports brand giants are not paying attention to.

Q: What inspired the Rafime brand?

A: Everyday when I drive home from work I always see young boys in oversized bibs doing drills on a not so adequate football ground. Seeing their commitment everyday stirred up something in me. At a back of my mind
I asked myself the question on why big sport brands are not investing in our rural town and townships. But then again them being absent is an opportunity for a local brand to enter the space. To go into areas where big brands will not necessarily touch and from there establish a base. Also Rafime aims to become a platform for supporting talent at grassroot level and hopefully open doors for talent to thrive. Rafime is inspired by young talent in our townships. I believe as a brand we going to unearth talent that will one day shine on global stage. We want that talent to proudly wear Rafime on the heart.

Q: What made you focus on sports and footwear?

A: The sports apparel and footwear market is currently dominated by a handful of players globally, same players are absolutely dominating the South African market. The biggest of them all are the two, one from USA and one from Germany, I’m sure you know which brands are those. I think we can have a say in this market here in South Africa. We might not have the resources that they have at the moment but I believe me we have the one thing that they don’t have and it’s something that can’t be bought. I won’t reveal it here:) but allow time to pass and you will see what I am talking about.

Q: What has been the most interesting observation about the business of sports and footwear so far?

A: My journey in the sports apparel and footwear business is still pretty new. I’m less than two months into it. I think I can give you a better answer in 12 month’s time. For now, I’m still learning and observing and pursuing so
I will come back to you on this one.

Q: What are you hoping to achieve with your brand in the industry?

A: If I can have every kid that kicks a ball or swing bat wear Rafime. If I can get every adult that’s active to wear Rafime. If I can have football clubs, from grassroot to professional to wear a Rafime designed kit. Then I will say I made a mark in the industry. We are about 6 to 7 weeks old, we are already taking on aggressive steps to make this happen. Hopefully in the next six months or so we can have something to show for all the efforts we putting in.

Q: Tell me about accessibility, how do people get hold of your brand?

A: Currently we only sell online. The brand is still new and at this current stage we are really gathering data on different aspect of the market we are serving. The data will help guide the direction on whether to have hybrid model where we sell online and offline.

Q: Tell me about the pricing, how much does it cost and what’s the target market?

A: The products are priced from R350 to R610. We are currently working on introducing a new range that will be in a different price category. Our products are targeted mainly at lower to higher middle class, men and women between the ages of 18 and 50.

Q: What keeps you motivated?

A: Being alive is a big motivator for me. I take a each day as blessing. So I maximise and try to improve from what I was yesterday. There are a lot of things that can keep you down and mess up your day, especially when you are running a startup. A lot depends on you showing up. A lot of things do go wrong each day. I try to keep a positive mindset and approach each day as it comes. I realise that problems are part of journey that I have chosen. Each day as it begins are prepare myself for any challenge that might come during the course of the day.

Click https://www.rafime.com/ for more on the brand.

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