The Aba shoe industry has not only created employment for thousands of unemployed youths, it has also attracted foreign investors who are readying to start large scale production in the city. The Ariaria international market located in Aba is the hub of shoe manufacturing in Nigeria and the West African region with traders from Chad, Ghana, Togo, the Niger Republic trooping to the market every week to buy shoes and other leather materials for resell in their countries.
The market has created thousands of employment for the young working population as Nigeria struggles to come out of recession. Unofficial records show the market contributes about 60 per cent of the state’s N2 billion ($10 million) monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
A notable mention is Chidinma Chukwuemeka who is the Co-founder of The Footwear Academy. Her husband and she started The Footwear Academy officially in August 2017. She thinks the decision of starting the shoe company had more to do with the influence of my husband because he liked it and he wanted to open up a shoe company and a training school for shoemaking. He had a big vision about it and she bought into that vision and today they have an academy
The vision of The Footwear Academy is to be the foremost footwear training and production institute in Africa, putting Nigeria on the roadmap of the footwear business by training and mentoring students who will dominate and be relevant to Africa when equipped with the right skill and technology. They believe that a skillful man with the right mentorship will excel and they offer their students exactly this at an affordable training price. They house experienced hands in footwear production, business consulting, and sales.
In spite of these promises of a booming shoe industry, some challenges still stare the shoemakers and their local industries in the face. Power outages are regular and random and this affects production. Also, in recent times, the cost of materials like leather, thread, and adhesive gums is relatively expensive depending on the quality. This has reduced the number of shoes produced daily. Credit loans are also not available for the shoemakers to access.