Shoes and Shoe 4 Africa

Shoes were a large part of Shoe4Africa, but not the main part… It was a step forward (a shoe as a symbol) out of poverty, a way of transposing you from here to a there.  We had many projects going on and shoes were one of them.  Addressing hookworm through giving shoes was a major project as seen here in our drive for Shoes to give out in Kibera.  We gave out 12,000 pairs and had 5,000 women gather at Kibera Primary School – probably the largest ever gathering of women-only in one place in Kenya’s history!  Certainly the largest women’s-only running race ever.  Here is our (best) trailer for collecting the shoes in 2007


The event itself was crazy, and can be seen here…

However now we are drifting… in 2016 we read that the East African Governments had met and were united that they wished to stop the import of secondhand clothes by 2019 to give the local tailors a chance to succeed in a highly competitive market.  With thousands of tons of s/hand clothes coming in many tailors had left the trade.

To stop what is a today a huge market they began by raising the taxes – we used to pay $1 or $2 for each pair of shoes we imported, which we felt was reasonable (typically we held events giving out 1,000 pairs) but when this number leapt to $10 per shoe in 2016 we took the hint.

Right now there is a dire need of quality second hand running shoes for the massive amount of people wishing to be runners in Kenya and no factory in Kenya making shoes.

One company is currently trying,making the shoes in the far east and assembling the final product in Kenya, another company is looking to start a fitness shoe – but truth be told the nike, adidas, asics, new balances won’t be replaced.  Sadly (Running) Shoes are included in the secondhand clothes docket!

Regardless, we are dramatically scaling back as we want to be as supportive as possible to the Kenyan Government and be compliant with their wishes – thus we will no longer import containers (mass) amounts of running shoes.

Read more The Economist  The BBC

Update Oct 2017.  The taxes now stand at $11 per imported pair of s/hand shoes.  No resolution with the government has been upheld due to the large amount of monies drifting through the secondhand clothes market.  For Shoe4Africa, again, we do not want to interfere in East African trade.  (update).