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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ghana's Fred Deegbe - From Banking to Making Luxury Shoes

Meet Fred Deegbe, a young entrepreneur who had no prior knowledge of shoe-making,  but today owns a high-end shoe-making company based in Accra, Ghana. Fred once visited a friend who laughed him to scorn because he wore one of those kinds of shoes that look like they are mocking the wearer; in a bid to restore his dignity, he went in search of a better pair of shoes. A few steps down the street, he spots this beautiful pair of shoes;

“As I admired them in the window of the store, a shoe-shine boy walked by. I raced outside to ask him if he could make a pair like these. He said it was impossible. I was stunned. I asked if he could make a shoe not a spaceship! This encounter with the shoe-shine boy prompted the journey which I am on right now”. He teamed up with a friend and started Heel The World (HTW), a high-end shoemaking company based in Accra, Ghana.

In 2012, Deegbe quit his banking job to dedicate himself fully to his new ambitious venture.
"We started buying machines and brought them over to the house," says the young entrepreneur, who launched the company from his parents' garage. "We had no intentions of starting the factory in the house, but one thing led to another and we just had to start." When I began, many people laughed at me for making Ghanaian shoes. A year later I am on my way to the World Economic Forum in Ethiopia because of my Ghanaian shoes.


Inside the HTW workshop, underneath fashion images hanging from its bright yellow walls, workers are busy cutting pieces of leather and gluing soles at their work stations.The materials are imported from places like the United States and Italy but all shoes are crafted by hand here."They want their friends to ask them, 'Where did you buy that?' and they say, 'no, we made it; we made it in a garage, in Accra, with our own hands,'" says Deegbe.

HTW, which currently has 5 full-time employees, under 30 and relies heavily on social media for marketing. Yet, one problem for some potential customers is the cost which range from between $200 to $400. "That's an uphill challenge that we still face," says Deegbe. "It's because most of this stuff is imported," he explains.

His Heel the World’ brand also makes wrist beads (empowerment beads as they are called), which is fast selling, within and outside the country. “Our mantra is that hard work is rewarded, and that’s what our beads represent. The black stones represent struggle, and the one gold bead represents what we all work for – the reward. We hope that it can serve as a reminder, in times when people are overwhelmed and feel disheartened, that there’s a reason we do what we do.”



Source - CNN, konnectafrica

1 comment:

  1. " When I began, many people laughed at me for making Ghanaian shoes. A year later I am on my way to the World Economic Forum in Ethiopia because of my Ghanaian shoes.

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