African sneaker brands are showing some fancy footwork

By our News Team | 2023

Can they get a foot in the door and take market share from the big global sneaker names? African brands think they can.

Today, sneakers are all the rage as young Africans seek to show off their global street cred while, increasingly, also supporting home-grown creative brands. This is fuelling the rise of African sneaker brands, many of which have an eye for international expansion. 


This ‘take-Africa-to-the-world’ business model is typical of many of the continent’s shoe brands, both the new kids on the block and more established businesses such as Sole Rebels, a hand-crafted Ethiopian brand, or dynamic South African offerings such as Bathu, Drip Footwear, Kicks Sportswear and Vaya Footwear.

African Success Stories

Cameroonian ICE Sneakers designer Ayissi Williams (sitting) shows off his design with friends. Photo credit: ICE Sneakers

Discussing Kicks’ move into the UK market, founder Sammy Mhaule told ‘CNN Business’: “It’s a no brainer … to align ourselves as an online platform in the UK while, at the same time, having a footprint in a [physical] store that will allow consumers to walk in and touch and feel our products.” 


Similarly, ICE Sneakers, the brainchild of Cameroonian Ayissi Williams, was created with the local and global market in mind, Williams told ‘Strategic Marketing for Africa’ in an interview.


“We obviously want to establish our brand in Africa first, but we also don’t want to limit it just to the African continent. We believe our brand can be successful in Africa and also be successful abroad. Our sneakers are comfortable, unique and durable enough to be liked by any audience.”


Registered in 2021, ICE only became operational in 2022, explains Williams, whose love of sneakers inspired him to create his own brand.


“After dropping out of university in 2016, I started learning about sneaker design by myself and the idea became a reality and operational in 2022,” he says, noting that he takes his inspiration from international brands like Nike, Adidas, Puma and New Balance. 


The difference, of course, is the unique design inspiration he draws from Cameroon, and specifically his home city of Buea.


As the first local sneaker brand in the country, Williams says the response from his fellow Cameroonians has been positive, supportive and encouraging. He has been careful to appeal to as broad a market as possible, being mindful to design products that appeal to all generations in his homeland, while also being aware of how this might translate on the world stage. 

You can read more about the evolution of African sneaker brands in the latest issue (Issue 3 2023) of Strategic Marketing for Africa, the magazine of the African Marketing Confederation. Read or download the digital edition here.

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    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
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    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
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