How To Start A Footwear Making Business In Africa

Africa is a fertile ground for the footwear business – start making shoes!

Footwear is an essential part of clothing and modern humans are never completely dressed without it. For thousands of years, we have always found a way to protect our feet from harm, injury and dirt, and even to support our walking. No wonder that today the global trade in all kinds of footwear – slippers, sandals, shoes, boots, etc. — is worth billions of dollars every year.

In Africa, some interesting startups are already shaking up the footwear industry on the continent and globally.
SoleRebels is an eco-friendly footwear brand that is handcrafted by local artisans in Ethiopia. Started by Bethlehem Alemu in 2004, this amazing business recycles used tires and handmade fabrics to produce stylish footwear that it sells in over 50 countries, including the USA, Canada, Japan and Switzerland.

Heel The World (HTW) in Ghana is another interesting footwear brand that is blazing a new trail in Africa. In 2012, Fred Deegbe abandoned his banking job to focus on his shoemaking business idea which was inspired after a luxury shopping experience in London. His company makes high-end, bespoke and luxury shoes that are entirely made by hand. He hopes to grow his Made in Ghana‘ luxury brand across the continent and compete against the biggest footwear brands.

TT Dalk by Temilade Osinfade, a young and promising entrepreneur, is another interesting homegrown footwear brand that is causing a stir in Nigeria. Featured during the 2013 African Fashion Week in London, TT Dalk makes delicately handcrafted, simple but stylish footwear and accessories for men and women. With stores in Lagos, Nigeria‘s most populated city, this promising brand is surely on the way up.

Africa has a strong potential to dominate the international footwear market. After all, the continent is one of the major producers of leather, a common raw material for making footwear. In addition to raw materials, shoe-making skills and talents are also abundant. Across the continent, local craftspeople are coming up with a wide range of unique and creative designs using locally available materials. Above all, the continent has a huge and fertile home-grown market to exploit, in addition to foreign markets.

And we received a great business tip from the Kenyan Leather Development Corporation: Footwear accessories such as soles are largely imported from China! There is a great business opportunity for you right there: Manufacture soles and other shoe accessories and related products – the demand in the industry will be huge and you can easily trade across African borders!

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