Since launching her model and line ‘Slippers by Kene’ in 2011, MA Style Entrepreneurship and Innovation alumna Kene Rapu has turn into the primary footwear model in Nigeria, champion of locally-sourced supplies and investor again into her residence nation. We discuss to her after being named in Forbes Africa’s 30 Below 30.
The younger entrepreneur has seen her enterprise go from energy to energy since its launch, Kene was additionally chosen by the Tony Elumelu Basis as one in all 1,000 African entrepreneurs whose thought might change Africa in 2016. The next yr she was listed as one in all 100 Most Influential Girls in Nigeria by Main Girls Africa.
As an rising market, Nigeria continues to be a notoriously troublesome place to seek out your ft as a enterprise, particularly being a girl, Kene explains. We discover out extra about her model, the challenges of working a enterprise and launching a manufacturing unit in Nigeria.
Hello Kene, are you able to inform us somewhat bit about your background and the way you bought into style entrepreneurship?
The graduation of my journey as a style entrepreneur in 2011 was unplanned. It was not an energetic determination however fairly fairly providential. At age 21, as a tall woman consistently in quest of comfy, fashionable footwear, shifting again residence after 9 years overseas, I realised that there was a serious hole within the Nigerian market, and thus determined to grab the chance. I’ve a Masters Diploma in Style Entrepreneurship from the London School of Style, UK and an LLB legislation diploma from the College of Bristol, UK.
Are you able to inform us about ‘Kene Rapu’ and the way the model was born… Did you see a niche out there for one thing new in Nigeria?
Kene Rapu is the No1. Nigerian footwear model, championing native manufacturing. We produce sturdy, comfy and classy footwear, proudly made in Nigeria. I put on a UK 8, and I’m 6ft tall. Typically, Nigerian ladies and men are taller and have bigger ft than the common westerner. Normally its probably the most unattractive footwear that’s discovered on the bigger sized shoe racks in shops. An issue plenty of buyers take care of. ‘Kene Rapu’ was born out of a must fill a niche for sturdy, stylish and cozy footwear, produced in a variety of sizes with particular consideration for people with bigger sized ft. Seven years later, we’ve got grown from a enterprise which started at residence on my eating desk to a manufacturing unit which employs individuals, trains cobblers, exports globally and promotes the native business.
Congratulations on making it onto Forbes 30 underneath 30, you additionally boast about being listed as one of many 100 Most Influential Girls in Nigeria and being chosen by Tony Elumelu Basis. How does it really feel being one of the vital celebrated younger feminine entrepreneurs of Nigeria?
Thanks. The journey to date makes me extra excited for the street forward. I’m keen about what I do, and It’s humbling and inspiring to know that one thing I began 7 years in the past, as a clueless contemporary graduate, has morphed right into a enterprise that’s recognised globally.
You latterly stated working a enterprise is tough work, much more so in Nigeria. What obstacles have you ever skilled and the way have you ever overcome them?
Though a nation of huge alternative, Nigeria stays a troublesome place to do enterprise. As an rising economic system, we face points that many enterprise house owners in additional developed economies might not. The percentages are in opposition to us, with extra companies anticipated to fail within the harsh local weather than to succeed. Lack of satisfactory energy provide is a serious problem, not solely does it decelerate productiveness, working mills may be very costly. Manufacturing has previously been a problem, from consistency to lack of fabric availability, to insufficient manpower. Regardless of the percentages, we newly launched our personal manufacturing unit final yr. This enables larger room for high quality management and extra environment friendly manufacturing.
You’re a giant advocate of selling progress inside Nigeria. What would you want to attain with ‘Kene Rapu’?
At a time limit Nigeria’s manufacturing sector was rising, nevertheless, the expansion was stalled with the provision of cheaper import substitutes. Extra not too long ago with the prohibitive alternate price of the Naira/Greenback, Nigerians are extra keen on shopping for native. We purpose to indicate that our merchandise are at par in high quality, with worldwide competitors, if not higher. We make investments nice ability and a focus to element in our manufacturing and we’re excited to be a footwear model placing Nigeria on the worldwide map.
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