Maple Leaf Shoe is the brain child of a group of youth based in Machakos town who came together to create a source of income through which they could earn while utilizing their unique set of skills and knowledge
Maple Leaf Shoes is the brain child of a group of youth based in Machakos town who came together to create a source of income through which they could earn while utilizing their unique set of skills and knowledge. As is custom to many businesses, they faced numerous challenges including marketing hurdles and getting adequate finance with which to buy materials. This group includes Alex Kiilu, Joseph Kilonzo, Brian Wambua, Lazarus Mutuku, Gregory Ndunda, Helkana Munyao, Alex Mweu, Jonathan Maweu and Christopher Mutua.
In May 2012, they heard about and registered for the ReachUp! program at the Red Cross center in Machakos and they say things are definitely looking up for them.
They joined the program to expand their knowledge in business, get motivation and obtain ICT information which would help in business improvement. "Machakos is a growing town, and every ones' focus is on fashion therefore as a group we came up with idea of establishing a fashion industry in town" says Christopher, "we however needed strategies on how to identify and reach our target customers and to ensure that their needs are met. This is where DOT came in."
During the sessions, DOT facilitators at the center, Robert Omondi and Julia Nyambura, assisted them in creating a facebook account where they market their products. The two also introduced them to the power of a mobile phone through which they take photos of their products and upload them on their facebook page and through which they keep track of comments
"We can now prepare cash flows for our business, prepare marketing materials and currently we are developing a business plan for fundraising from financial institutions," Joseph says
So far, they said, we have gained a lot especially from the empowerment modules that taught the importance of believing in one's skills and strengths. The business modules have also helped to improve their business especially while adding value to their products. Knowledge of internet use has been of great value to them as they are soon to open a website through which to market their products.
On Friday 6th June, a DOT Kenya team paid a courtesy visit to the group at their premises to monitor the impact of DOT on the business and they were impressed by the mileage that the business had achieved and the focus of the youths in making Maple leaf shoes a household name in Machakos.
"We have the urge to discover new things and actually bring it into reality by designing and making that particular shoe that a client requires. That's what drives us and keeps us going," says Christopher
Helkana, one of managers of the business says, "It's indeed an inspiration to see people's life change, ReachUp! Program has indeed opened our eyes and has helped us see life from a different perspective. It has taught me to dream of a better me."