Buy Kenya Build Kenya: Kenya gets it’s own running shoes

A powerhouse in world athletics, Kenya’s towering presence on track is undisputed.

At the just concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kenya ranked 3rd in the Athletics table and 19th overall having won 10 medals; 4 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze.

Despite the good performance, a piece of Kenyan entrepreneurial spirit was missing as the athletes adorned foreign brands clearly visible on track and on the podium. Enda Sportswear wants to change that.

With quality and durable running shoes out of reach for many budding athletes due to their price tags, Enda Sports, a locally owned company is on course to remove the hurdle by producing affordable and durable running shoes designed for the Kenyan terrain.

“In the past we have been relying on shoes imported in the country, but now we have the capacity to make these high performance quality shoes locally and people are appreciating these Kenyan made products,” said Cyprian Kiswili, Enda Sportswear Lead Designer.

Enda Sportswear Lead Designer Cyprian Kiswili inspecting workers assembling shoe parts at Umoja Rubber (EPZ) Company in Kilifi County. PHOTO | Haniel Mengistu

Based in Kilifi County, Enda Sportswear was founded by Navalayo Asembo in 2016 its aim is to enhance African athletics performance by making running shoes easily accessible to local athletes at affordable rates while cutting imports which are often substandard.

According to Kiswili the factory currently hires between 50-100 employees in their production line at any given time.

In partnership with Umoja Rubber Products Limited, a team of 42 employees are able to produce between 150 to 300 pairs of shoes per day for Enda whose brand name translates to “go” in Kiswahili.

Industrial shoe tailor joining shoe canvas at Umoja Rubber (EPZ) company in Kilifi County. PHOTO | Haniel Mengistu

The name also also acts as a global branding and global marketing strategy for the running shoes.

The firm has established a team of world-class shoe designers, developers, and Kenyan athletes who together, are able to create high quality performance running shoes that capture the skills and experience of local athletes.

“The leather and canvas are sourced in Thika and the hope is future versions of this shoe will see 100 percent locally sourced and manufactured from Kenya to the world. A feat that is very achievable in the coming years,” said Kisili.

Currently the biggest market for the brand is in the United States but there have been concerted efforts through the Tusker Mwanzo shoe production to target the Kenyan market where there is growing demand for quality locally manufactured products as part of the ‘Buy Kenya Build Kenya’ initiative.

The firm currently has collaboration with local brewer, Kenya Breweries Limited for production of the Tusker Mwanzo shoe, the first high performance running shoe of its kind which is expected to be launched by end August.

Finished Tusker sports shoes ready for packaging. PHOTO | Haniel Mengistu

“The planned release date for the shoes will be at the end of August 2021 where all Kenyans will get the opportunity to purchase these fine pieces of footwear in their local outlets,” added Kiswili.

About 90% of most of the orders come from the United States showing growth in the brand’s popularity in the country.

80% of Enda’s clients are based in the US, 8% in Europe and 12% in Kenya.

  

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