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HomebusinessNavalayo Osembo: Kenyan Entrepreneur Behind Africa’s First Running Shoe Company

Navalayo Osembo: Kenyan Entrepreneur Behind Africa’s First Running Shoe Company

Navalayo Osembo is the co-founder and CEO of Enda Athletic, Inc, an African running shoe brand that is inspired by the world’s greatest runners in Kenya.

The company was established in 2015 after she met Weldon Kennedy over interest in minimizing opportunities in Kenya’s athletic space.

The company creates men’s and women’s running footwear and apparel made in Kenya, for sale under its branded name, on both online retail and wholesale to running and athletic retailers.

Here is her story as told by WoK.

Navalayo developed an interest in sports at a young age having grown up in a military camp in Eldoret, UasinGishu County.

She grew up to become one of the most multifaceted professionals, working in East Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The global experience saw her establish a tennis sports academy in Bungoma, providing budding athletes with professional training.

Navalayo’s next venture was establishing Enda Athletic Limited in partnership with Weldon Kennedy following their meeting in 2015.

While setting up the company, Navalayo and her partners set out on a fact-finding mission to determine what a perfect running shoe should look like.

“We spent the first two years of the business working on the prototypes and getting suitable manufacturers to make the products locally,” she said.

Eventually, their campaign yielded results and they went on to design different running shoes with the help of the athletes.

“We aim to produce these shoes as ethically as possible in Kenya and sell them around the world. Through Kenyan production, global sales, and persistent storytelling, Enda Athletic provides a means through which runners globally can connect to Kenyan running greatness,” Navalayo said.

Navalayo Osembo
Enda Athletic Limited staffer at work PHOTO/Fuzu

In an interview with Lionesses of Africa, Navalayo also spoke on her inspiration behind the company, “I’d say Enda is a series of many events that kind of just led into one point

‘I’ve always been interested in sports and once upon a time I started a sports academy in Bungoma that was focusing on helping kids who have really great talent in sports but without the economic background to support their talents.”

Initially, Navalayo was running the company as a side-hustle.

“I had fear leaving a full time job in legal and accounting, to jump into the murky waters of entrepreneurship. I was working outside the country so it was quite a big move to make,” he said.

Navalayo has also overseen the establishment of Enda Community Foundation which is empowering communities and changing lives.

To make it work, two percent of proceeds from the sale of each pair of shoe is channelled towards supporting community projects.

“So far, we have supported a community-based organization in Nairobi’s Korogocho slums that teaches life skills through sports, an NGO in Nandi County that buys livestock for disadvantaged women to help them earn a livelihood, and most recently, an organization in Kenya’s coast that empowers girls through sports We have also given direct cash grants to athletes. I am excited about the future because we have the capacity to create an impact for so many more people,” Navalayo said.

Navalayo hopes Enda will be one of the top three running shoe brands globally.