Iten a town at 2,400 meters above sea level, in the Rift Valley, Kenya. Running lovers know that the headquarters of the running university, where the great highland marathoners, such as Dennis Kimetto, Eliud Kipchoge or Brigid Kosgei, were trained. Iten is also the name chosen for the first shoe made by Enda Running, a brand that produces footwear for champions and for all amateurs rigorously made in Kenya. A challenge that is not only economic, but also and above all social and cultural.
The project took shape in 2016 thanks to a Kenyan female lawyer, Navalayo Osembo, and an American manager specialized in international cooperation and a running lover, Weldon Kennedy. In recent years Kenya has been almost colonized from a sporting point of view – explains Navalayo Osembo, CEO of Enda -. Great coaches come here every year to look for young running talents, international brands sponsor the best Kenyan marathoners, but there is no running economy in the country. We told ourselves it was time to create it.
Enda, the pride of shoes made in Kenya
The first winning choice. A crowfunding campaign on Kickstarter is launched which also works thanks to the support of Hollywood stars, such as Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o (Oscar for 12 years a slave), or Winston Duke, the Black Panther villain. So Enda (which in Swahili means Go!) Starts running. After the Iten (designed for high performance athletes), there are the Lapatets, suitable for those who travel with more human rhythms, and again the Koobi Fora, designed for the trail. Enda’s is a beautiful story of redemption that was born in Kenya but which also concerns Italy, the first nation in Europe to believe in shoes that are born in the cradle of running. Thanks also to Marco Rocca, who twenty years ago brought the American Brooks to our country, and today dived enthusiastically into this new adventure. As long as the Dpcm allowed me, I traveled far and wide across Italy to talk to shopkeepers and professionals – explains Rocca -. The Enda are shoes for those who love to run and for those who want to feel part of a bigger project. A project in which the concepts of sustainability and solidarity literally have their feet on the ground.
The Enda are products proudly made in Kenya, in the workmanship and in the style. Assembled in Nairobi, they use traditional fabrics on the tongue and heel, and the red and green colors on the eyelets of the laces recall those of the national flag. On the sole reproduced the map of the Great Rift Valley, the inscription Harambee (All together) the national motto. And the models for the spring-summer 2021 season (in Italy from March) will be presented in three different colors, inspired by the traditional clothing of the Samburu and Masai populations. The biggest challenge for us is being able to have the entire supply chain here in Kenya – adds Osembo -. We still have to bring the materials here for production, and this places limits in terms of numbers compared to the big brands that do everything in the Far East. Furthermore, the global pandemic has further slowed down our projects in the past year. The stop to major sporting events has forced us to revise many of our plans. But our vocation is that of marathon runners and therefore we hope to arrive victorious at our goals.
The social and environmental impact
Enda is the only running shoe brand in the world to have obtained the international B Corp certification, due to the high social impact of the project. Both in terms of jobs, direct or related, but also for the support to local communities through the Enda Community Foundation (part of the purchase price in fact supports educational activities in Kenya). In addition, the reduction of the environmental impact that makes Enda, with the Climate Neutral certification, the first zero-impact running shoes. But the greatest merit remains that of having shown that Kenya is not just a land of unsurpassed champions.
January 28, 2021 (change January 28, 2021 | 10:25)
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