Roemello Shembe is a young South African entrepreneur and change leader who has risen from a hostile environment by taking a stand against gangs, with the production of inspiring clothing brands; AntiGang and OMW.
The 21-year-old South African entrepreneur is working hard to beat the odds and build a business in one of Johannesburg’s most challenging townships.
Recent looting and rioting has highlighted some of the major social issues facing South Africa. The Growing Champions member, Roemello Shembe is looking to change the beliefs around crime and gangs with his newly launched clothing line, AntiGang.
Having made it to an age that many young boys from his community don’t get to make it to or either reach it having committed crimes and serving jail time, Shembe now faces these head-on wearing clothing items that reject these cycles.
He explained, “When I set up an AntiGang Clothing Line and Takkie Wash in my hometown (Eldorado Park) which is full of criminal and gang activity, many said I would be hurt. The gang leaders laughed at me.”
He added that this didn’t discourage him but rather motivated him to continue because he could feel that this philosophy threatens the gang culture in that community.
According to the young founder of the clothing brand, he seeks to bring everyone together who doesn’t believe in or support any gang-related violence. Shembe’s very own experiences and the stories of those he grow up around inspired him to start the AntiGang label.
“I want to break the cycle of fear through my brand and the knowledge that you can’t fight fire with fire. Using my love for fashion and passion to be a change leader I gathered strength and started this brand. I hope to honour all those positive young men and women that grew up around me and motivated me.”
He hopes that this will be a message to the youths living through violence, abuse and poverty that they can be the change the community desperately needs.
Shembe added, “I have had no capital to start my brand. I basically started the takkie wash where clients bring their takkies and get it cleaned for only R30 a pair. I worked day and night scrubbing shoes to be able to afford the material to make and sell my clothes.”
With Youth Day fast approaching, he hopes his clothing line will help change the mindsets of the youth when it comes to gangs and gang culture.
“Having grown up in Eldorado Park I’ve seen that many youths believe that being in a gang is something cool and powerful. What the community hides from them is the truth about the consequences. Crime leads you up dead or in prison. It chains you up, you are always having to sleep with one eye open.”
If interested in seeing more of the AntiGang clothing line, check them out on Facebook @ANTI_GANG and Instagram @anti_gang2020.