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. We ship our shoes nationwide in Kenya at a small fee.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
The traffic of shoes from urban centers to rural areas is high. Unfortunately, the shoes that will trickle down to the rural dwellers are sometimes rejects and the worst of grades of used shoes. We, rural dwellers only see brand shoes on TV. Crochet Hub Africa is rerouting the shoes business back to towns through recycling . We are taking advantage of the fact that most urban dwellers love unique stylish and often expensive footwear to furnish them with exactly that. 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. The women in the rural set up will benefit from this project big time in two ways: those that do not afford shoes quality shoes can buy our own cheaply while those that are long-sighted will make the shoes and sell because we offer training to empower local women. We have been training women in various parts of the country already but on demand. Once we begin mass production of our own brand of shoes, we intent to offer employment to as many as 300 women for the initial implementation. There is vast room for improvement on our product, because creativity is limitless. By so doing, we are promoting the local manufacturers industry and the Small and Medium Enterprises that Africa is struggling so hard empower. Our greatest achievement was when we featured on KCB LIONS DEN season three last year. We are yet to receive the funding upon being the finalists. This will help us expand especially in the areas of marketing and raw materials.
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 an informal 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 selling cautiously as we await to finalize the patenting; after which mass production will begin. We have identified and made contact with specific gift shops, online stores, supermarkets and fashion houses to stock our product.
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. We crochet till late. To keep our supply of resources steady, we sometimes crochet stuff that is not shoe related for clients. Every sale we make helps us buy more raw materials locally and occasionally from the capital. We run a small wool shop in the shopping center around. Though not yet affluent, it is still sustainable and helps us display our products. On demand, we train crochet work therein. 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.