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How to thrive in the shoe business

By Ian Dennis | January 22nd 2020
By Ian Dennis | January 22nd 2020

After completing university, Faith Kithome had a hard time securing employment. This frustration led her to consider entrepreneurship as a way of meeting her needs.  

She identified an opportunity in the shoe business in Nairobi’s Kahawa Wendani thanks to the large population of university students who would form her main clientele.

When It came to choosing her target market, she decided to focus on women’s shoes, as they were not only affordable for her, but also a little research showed that women bought more shoes than men. Months into the business, she realised that most of her sales were from online inquiries and required her to deliver the shoes to town.

Whenever she had to deliver shoes to town she had to close her shop thus losing out on potential sales. This led to the decision to relocate her business to the city centre where she felt, she could interact with most of her clients.

Her sales improved with the move, and she now wishes to expand her business. Thus, I linked her up with Hellen Wangui, the founder of Helwas Men’s collection to share with her nuggets of wisdom with regards to the shoe business.

1. Start with the capital in hand

Hellen started the shoe business with only Sh7,000 capital. She highlights that capital is not an obstacle with regards to pursuing a business idea.

Start with what you have in hand. Initially she sourced the shoes from Kamukunji, but as the business grew and her capital base grew, thanks to ploughing back profits into the business, she now imports her stock.

2.  Have a vision to motivate you

An entrepreneur can only be motivated by the vision at hand. It is therefore vital regardless of how small you start that you hold a vision to scale the business to greater heights.

This can be through having a particular company that is succeeding in the business as your measure.

3. Start and grow your business lean

Statistics indicate that small businesses fail within the first three to five years. In order to avoid being part of these statistics, you have to wisely use the resources within your sights.

In the shoe business it is vital that one stocks only those shoes that do move fast in order to ensure that one does not end up with dead stock which is expensive for the business in the long run.

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