Kenya has a reputation for nurturing some of the best runners in the world. David Rudisha. Eliud Kipchoge. Dennis Kimetto. The list goes on and on, so it seems only appropriate that the African nation is finally reaping the economic rewards of its country’s athletic prowess.
Enda, the first-ever running shoe assembled entirely in Kenya, made its official debut Stateside earlier this week. Demand is already high for the brand-new sneaker, which was inspired by and developed with professional Kenyan runners in mind.
Right now, we just make a single shoe called the Iten,” said Weldon Kennedy, a former social-change campaigner who teamed up with Kenyan lawyer Navalayo Osembo-Ombati to launch Enda after a chance encounter in 2016. “It’s a lightweight trainer that comes in three colors—red, green and black—because those are the colors of the Kenyan flag.”
Although Kennedy, a longtime marathoner, is the first to admit that the Iten isn’t for everyone, he also says the debut shoe is, in large part, a love letter to Kenya. “It really speaks to the Kenyan running style,” he said. “There’s a natural, smooth, lightweight motion that’s perfect for weekdays when you want to knock out a 5K or 7K run.”
The genesis of the company’s name means “Go!” in Swahili. “If you’re at a race in Kenya watching two sprinters at the finish line, people will be yelling, ‘Enda, enda!” Kennedy said. “And that’s exactly what Kennedy and Company plan to do as orders continue to roll in for their socially conscious running shoes.
“First and foremost, there isn’t an industry of this nature in Kenya so we’re focused on developing there,” Kennedy said. “We’re training workers. We’re on Skype with our designer. If you look around the world, exporting has been shown to be the best way to alleviate poverty. So we’re loud and proud about our shoes being put together there.” – Source: Runners World