Boosting Youth Employment a sandal at a time

The ever increasing youth unemployment has been a crucial issue world over. The coastal town of Malindi has not been an exception. Youths of between ages of 16-25 have been known to hang around public places, liquor dens and along the beach trying to talk tourists into giving them money for “showing them a good time” or act as a guide on their stay in the area. There has been a belief that the tourists will literally pick them up from squalor and automatically change their lives. One man, Bakari Rashid Hamisi saw through this delibitating dependency and established Kiwi Shoemakers in 2010. A shoemaker himself, he needed people to assist him in making sandals that are a big hit in the coastal area with the influx of tourists. He gathered interested young men from the area who apprenticed with him. Now, the group has about 100 shoemakers in busy seasons. They hand-make a variety of men, women and children’s sandals. The sandals are made from locally sourced high quality leather, flat flexible, non-slip rubber sole and decorated with colorful beads. The materials are cut, sewn and stitched by hand. The intricate beadwork is of authentic African designs handcrafted with care. Additional decorations are of shells sustainably hand-collected along the ocean shore. Initially, marketing and sale of Kiwi Shoemakers’ sandals were by word of mouth by locals and tourists. This sustained employment for hundreds of youth in Malindi, transforming their lives and keeping them away from crime. With dwindling tourism, coupled with the competition, sales have plummeted over the years. Crafts With Meaning has collaborated with Kiwi Shoe Makers to promote sustainable social and economic development by providing access to market information and comply with buyers’ requirements. Crafts With Meaning advise and/provide quality raw materials used in making the sandals, advise on the design style in trend, fair working practices, creative innovations, value addition, quality management and presentation and handle logistics to ensure timely delivery of the products to the buyers. Sales through the Crafts With Meaning platform, will enable Kiwi Shoe Makers, employ more youth in Malindi to meet quality and demand as well as improve their living standards and standing in society contributing towards the SDG 8: promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

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