The words “Kenya” and “marathon” are synonymous on the international stage in the same way that soccer is often attached to Brazil.
So when business partners Navalayo Osembo-Ombati and Weldon Kennedy decided to create Kenya’s first world-class running shoe, Enda, the general reaction was to ask why it had taken this long.
“It’s the type of feedback we’ve been getting because when you really think about it, you have to wonder why hasn’t this been done before,” New York-based Osembo-Ombati tells ESSENCE.com
And based on the enthusiasm surrounding their $75,000 Kickstarter campaign—a goal they reached in just eight days last week—people want the shoes. As of the press time, more than 800 have donated over $101,000 in just over two weeks. The campaign ends on June 29. The first batch of shoes will be out in November.
For Osembo-Ombati the success is also personal. Born near Eldoret, Kenya, the home of many of the country’s top runners, she has seen the financial impact a world-class running career has on a community.
But not everyone gets to make it to the world running stage. So when she came up with the idea to create a sports academy targeted towards poor children that could put an emphasis on both education and sports, she quickly realized that she needed a product to sustain the school. From that need, Enda –which means “Go!” in Swahili — was born.
“We wondered what could raise money and have a social impact?” she says.
It was also about getting a piece of the pie in a multi-billion dollar running shoe industry that often uses Kenya’s image to sell the product, with only so much coming back into the country.
“And that’s what we’re targeting,” she says. “Let’s get a piece of the pie. Let’s benefit. Let’s bring it home.”
You can support the Enda kickstarter campaign and order your own pair here.
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