Best Projects 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Crochet Hub Africa
Explain your project in details:
Crochet Hub Africa is a project that was started to recycle cheap locally available raw materials to create new shoes. We use yarn to refurbish old shoes into desirable styles as per the customers demands. We are capable of making numerous designs out of a single old pair of sole, for all age groups, sizes and both sexes. We obtain our soles from used shoes whose soles are still in good shape. Such shoes can be as lowly priced as less than $1.00. The upper worn out part is carefully gotten rid of and the sole washed spotlessly clean. Then using a crochet hook, a new upper part is sewn. The new handmade shoes are not only customizable but cheap as well. For these shoes, a pair only needs a ball of yarn worth $1.00. Eventually, the shoe pairs are sold at a price ranging between $6.00 and $60. Sometimes, we deliberately go for new pairs of soles from shoe industries at a higher price so as to meet customers demands. This means we could still make our own brand of new shoes. Our favorite customers are kids; one, they do not wear out their shoes, they outgrow them. Most of children's used shoes have newer soles despite the worn out top. Secondly, yarn is warmer; all kids need warmth. We did our sales exclusively online for some time before we acquired a small shop . We are located strategically in a rural set up where there is cheap labor. However, after our surveys we have realized that our market is largely based in towns; so we ship our shoes nationwide in Kenya at a small fee. We have plans to open a shop in Nairobi city.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Crochet Hub Africa is rerouting the shoes business back to towns from villages through recycling . Our crochet shoes are as new and as quality as the materials that are put together to make them. Through research, we have identified the best yarn for this in terms of aesthetics, durability and thickness. This is how we have hooked the city people on our crochet hooks. What has been impeding us from taking steps ahead was the fact that after being accepted in the KCB Lions Den early 2018, we were not allowed to go public till the show aired. Also, the business mogul that partnered with us encouraged that we did research on our own brands before we could use the $5000 worth of funds. The women in the rural set up will benefit from this project big time in two ways: those that do not afford quality shoes can buy our own cheaply; others can train to make the shoes and start their own businesses. We have already trained women in some parts of the country. We intent to offer employment to 300 women in 2020 after launching our brands. We shall invest in our website especially for training and marketing. We are lucky to have been selected to attend the 2019 East Africa YALI network training in entreprenuership. This training, alongside with what we have mastered on this campus, will help us in decision making with regard to the funds especially in marketing and equipment.
Sustainability and future plans
We were finalists in the Kenyan entrepreneurship program KCB Lions Den where we won $5000 to establish our business. Once we receive the amount, we shall use it for purchasing raw materials in bulk as well as marketing. Our research to come up with our own brand has been costly. From our own savings, we have spent over $5000. This is what has been preventing us from mass production compelling us to take only one or two orders a week as we use the clients in survey. For each of these lucky clients, we have asked questions on joinery, durability, fluffing, comfort, style and closure type so as to know how to improve the product for the next client especially concerning the yarn type and as at now, our shoes are perfect and ready for the market soon after patenting. We have learnt how to best fix the toe part, the heel and the closures as well as accessorize. We are already making sales but being new, the business is not yet generating revenue. We are as well sourcing for funds from government Youth Funds and NGO grants. We have identified and made contact with specific gift shops, online stores, supermarkets and fashion houses to stock our products once we start mass production.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
I am a 30 year old lady, mother of one and a graduate teacher by profession. I come from a family of eight; four girls four boys. Both of my parents are teachers too. My mother is a veteran crochet artist aside from her teaching career. In the small rural area I work, you have to travel to a nearby town, about 200 KM away to buy nice baby stuff for your child. Working for the government, I can afford a few nice stuffs for my kid, but the problem is, they are not readily available! What of the women without jobs in the rural areas? Where would they find nice baby shoes for instance? That is how I began improvising crochet shoes on soles. I go to school during day time and join my sister cum partner in research in the evenings. Every sale we make helps us buy more raw materials locally and occasionally from the capital. My successes have come as a result of hard work patience and smart thinking. My failures have been as a result of limited funding. We have good taste. We are talented and versatile. We believe every loophole can be sealed, everything in bad shape can be redone or improved through innovation.