The fastest runners in the world are coming from? Right – from Kenya. Running legends like Mary Keitany and David Elisha or Eliod Kipchoge, with just over two hours current world record holder on the marathon distance. They all ran their best times with shoes from major international brands. Running shoes ‘Made in Kenya’? So far, none.
So far. Because now there are also fast shoes from the land of the fastest runners: ‘Enda’ is the name of the running shoe brand of the start-up of the same name. ‘Enda’ means ‘run!’ In the local Kiswahili language. The reputation with which fans cheer on their athletes, especially in the last meters. The company is based in the Rift Valley, the training center of the Kenyan professional running scene. Because at Enda, runners develop for runners. “The athletes are the experts, they know best what is important in a good running shoe, so we work with local runners to develop our shoes,” says Enda founder Navalayo Osembo-Ombati.
Two models for men and women have been on the market so far, the ‘Iten’ for quick short runs, the ‘Lapatet’ for relaxed long runs, and soon there will also be shoe types for cross-country runs and competitions in the range. Osembo-Ombati thinks nothing of that, as usual in the industry. “What really matters is consistent training.” The focus is on the performance of the shoes; Enda’s trademark are particularly durable soles.
All elements of the design are Kenya-inspired. The logo looks like the tip of a spear, the country’s traditional hunting weapon. Red and green shoelace eyelets represent the colors of the Kenyan flag. Kitenge, a typical material in East Africa, is processed in the heel, the upper part has the typical Kikoi pattern. And on the midsole is the word ‘Harambee’ – ‘Let’s all pull together.’ Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, set up a social self-help movement under the motto that still plays a major role in the lives of Kenyans today. Also for Enda boss Osembo-Ombati.
The 33-year-old auditor herself comes from the Rift Valley, and for a long time she thought about how the high value of running could be used to improve living conditions. In Kenya, running is part of national identity. At the same time, running is often the only chance for young people to escape poverty.
Turning passion into an economic factor: Enda founders Navalayo Osembo-Ombati (left) and Weldon Kennedy.
Enda was founded with the aim of giving Kenyan athletic greatness to runners everywhere and promoting economic development in Kenya.
We bring the Lapatet running shoe onto the market in the colors green / white and red / white.
When Osembo-Ombati met the American Weldon Kennedy, an expert on social campaigns who has lived in Kenya for years, they thought: How can the country benefit economically from the success of its runners? This is how the idea of producing the first running shoe brand ‘Made in Kenya’ was born. In 2016, Osembo-Ombati and Kennedy founded their company Enda, they got the necessary capital from their families and friends. Finding large donors, however, was difficult. Kenyan investors believe in real estate and the country’s booming tech startup scene, but not in consumer goods startups. International investors and venture capitalists, on the other hand, were not convinced of the business model. Osembo-Ombati and Kennedy kept hearing why sports shoes are produced in Africa. Why not have it manufactured like the big global sports brands in China and Vietnam?
The Enda founders raised $ 140,000 via crowdfunding, which they used to develop and produce their first model. The runners in the Rift Valley trained with the prototype, gave their feedback after each run, and the Enda team implemented the runners’ wishes and suggestions directly. The skeptics were convinced that running shoes “Made in Kenya” came onto the market in Kenya; five local investors gave a total of 350,000 US dollars. Enda’s manufacturing facility is a former sandal factory that was idle for years. “Only with more jobs can people’s living conditions improve,” says Osembo-Ombati, “a country can only develop with a strong production sector.”
Enda is still getting the individual components of the shoes from China, because they are not produced in Kenya. Not yet. “Our goal is to be able to manufacture everything ourselves very soon in order to offer 100 percent ‘Made in Kenya’,” says Kennedy. More production, more jobs, more investment – Kenya needs companies like Enda. Manufacturing companies currently generate only a tenth of the gross domestic product and only provide eleven percent of all jobs. The government wants to push the sector, but the hurdles for founders are high, and above all there is a lack of capital. Osembo-Ombati and Kennedy plan to use part of their profits to support other startups. “Enda is a social enterprise,” says Osembo-Ombati. “The people in Kenya should benefit from everything we do.”