With a population of over one billion people, footwear is one of the fast and emerging business opportunities in Africa. Everybody needs shoes. We don’t just buy them to protect our feet; shoes are a popular way to express our style and fashion sense. It’s not just the size of Africa’s market that’s attractive to the footwear industry. Africa is also richly endowed with the raw materials, impressive talent, and affordable labor that gives it the edge to build a multi-billion dollar footwear industry.

1. Sole Rebels (Ethiopia)

SoleRebels is arguably the most popular and fastest-growing African footwear brand in the world! It sells its ‘eco-friendly’ brand of footwear in more than 50 countries; including the USA, Canada, Japan and Switzerland. Bethlehem Alemu started SoleRebels in 2004 with less than $10,000 in capital she raised from family members.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder of SoleRebels © SoleRebels Footwear

Today, Solerebels has more than 100 employees and nearly 200 local raw material suppliers and has opened several standalone retail outlets in North America, Europe, and Asia. Despite its very humble beginnings, SoleRebels now makes up to $1 million in sales every year, and according to Bethlehem’s projections and expansion plans, the company could be making up to $10 million in sales by 2016.

2. ENZI (Kenya & Ethiopia)

ENZI is a promising footwear brand from Africa that focuses on a specific niche in the global footwear market – luxury leather shoes for men. ENZI uses high quality, ethically-raised and environmentally-sustainable Ethiopian leather to create footwear. The Company works with partner manufacturing companies in Ethiopia and Kenya to create stylish and “dressy-casual” shoes by using high quality materials and designs.

ENZI’s brands itself as a company that is “out to break the pessimistic view about Africa as well produce shoes of the best quality in Africa, for the world market.” In line with its mission, ENZI creates sustainable jobs in the local Kenyan and Ethiopian communities it works with, and contributes immensely to the growth of the African continent while producing quality shoes for trendy men across the world.

3. Buqisi-Ruux (Kenya & Uganda)

Buqisi-Ruux is an interesting new startup in Africa’s footwear industry that is certainly turning heads. The brand features 4+ inch platform heels in locally-made Ankara print designs that celebrates powerful African women and represents the diversity, vibrancy and boldness that lies within the African continent.

The name Buqisi-Ruux literally means “Queen of the Village”. ‘Buqisi’ comes from an ancient Egyptian word which means ‘Queen’ and Ruux is short for ‘Rukungiri’, a village in Western Uganda, where Nuba and her cousins come from. The Buqisi-Ruux brand is inspired by African women and the continent’s art. The brand is proud of its African roots and this is boldly reflected in all their collections.

4. T.T. Dalk (Nigeria)

T.T DALK is a Nigerian-based fashion brand that is redefining the African footwear industry. It makes simple, trendy, and elegant footwear for both men and women that appeal to a wide range of consumer tastes. This brand is revolutionizing the local footwear business in Nigeria and has been featured on several international fashion shows and runways. He primarily sells his shoes on online stores and a few boutique retail outlets in Nigeria’s major cities.

Temilade Osinfade is the founder and Creative Director at T.T Dalk. During his days at the university, he would draw out footwear designs on paper for local shoe craftsmen to make for him. His shoes and slippers caught the attention of other students and that’s how the T.T Dalk footwear business was born.

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