Entrepreneurs Tap Kenya’s Legacy In Athletics To Build Running Shoes Company

Entrepreneurs Tap Kenya’s Legacy In Athletics To Build Running Shoes Company

For decades Kenya has been hailed as one of the world’s athletics powerhouse where record-breaking long-distant runners  have emerged from.

The East African nation of about 45 million has dominated world’s major long distance races since the 1980s, winning over 50 Olympic medals, something that has made scientists research to understand why so many winning athletes come from the African nation, Signal reported.

It’s this legacy that two entrepreneur, Kenyan-born Navalayo Osembo and American Weldon Kennedy, are seeking to tap in creating a specialty running shoe company called Enda ( meaning “Go” in Kiswahili).

“(We want) to create a way through which Kenya can economically benefit from the running industry, given its reputation on distance running,” Osembo, who hails from the Rift Valley town of Eldoret that has produced some of the world beating athletes told Signal.

Enda raised $75,000 in startup capital on Kickstarter ahead of its production launch on September last year.

Osembo and KennedyThe company’s shoes are light-weight trainers with a low heels-to-toe-drop and are particularly targeting runners in the U.S. , a group that typically spends between $100 and $125 on specialty running shoes, according to Enda’s research.

The shoes are priced at about $100 a pair and also target 40 other African countries.

Osembo and Kennedy worked with global running shoe designers and elite runners to develop the design of the shoe.

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The pair collaborated with the product design firm Birdhaus, which has worked with Under Armour and Reebok, in its creation and have been testing their prototype with runners in Kenya’s highlands, including the racers Justin Lagat and Joan Cherop, Fast Company reported.

Most parts of their shoes will be imported from a factory in Dongguan, China, operated by the US-based footwear manufacturer Jones & Vining, and assembled in Kenya. The idea is to ultimately produce the entire shoe in Kenya.

Image: signalng.com
Image: signalng.com

Enda is also run as a social enterprise and will allocate a portion of their profit to assisting with basic sanitation, clean water, access to adequate healthcare and quality education, Destiny Man reported.

“Working with experts, we’ll identify a handful of most effective projects that could use some extra support every six months. Anyone who buys a pair of Enda shoes and registers their purchase will get one vote to help us determine which projects will receive money from the pool,” Enda said in its Kickstarter bio.

“Through this, we will link Enda runners across the globe to local communities in Kenya and vice versa, and encourage sympathy, creativity and innovation.”