Giving Jiggers the Boot
Our entrepreneurship scheme has been created in partnership with The Nasio Trust, a charity based in Abindgon, Oxfordshire. The Trust has been doing extraordinary work in a community in Western Kenya, where the founder has her roots. Our project aims to tackle the growing issue of jiggers, a small parasite that mainly attacks people’s feet, laying eggs under the skin, and ultimately creating dangerous infections. Due to this problem, children and adults become reduced in their mobility, and hindered in their capacity to go to school or to work. If untreated, this can lead to loss of toenails and in extreme cases, loss of limbs or even death. 4% of Kenya’s population is infected and 25% of the population is at risk, with increased risk amongst children and the disabled. In endemic areas – such as Kakamega County where the Nasio Trust is based – up to 15 to 40% of the population is infected. Additionally, as little treatment is available, there are many instances in which people have tried to treat the infection using safety pins or needles. This practice puts them at high risk of contracting HIV, prevalent at high rates in the area.
As jiggers attack mainly the feet, wearing closed shoes provides a very simple preventative to jigger flea infestation by reducing exposure to the sand in which they are found. However, many families are unable to afford shoes, particularly for their children whose feet are growing. In other parts of the country, organisations have implemented programs to give out free shoes, but the impact is mitigated by low rates of people wearing them. Our project with the Nasio Trust takes a fresh angle at the issue by setting up a social enterprise. Local cobblers and sewers, who have already expressed interest in participating in the project, will take on the manufacture of shoes to be sold to the local community, at an affordable price. The local enterprise will be completed with an educational campaign on the benefits of the shoes, and on the need to wear them every day.
How will the price be reduced, you ask? We have two solutions! First, the shoes are made mainly of sustainable materials – recycled tires for the soles, and recycled denim and canvas for the top part. These materials are easily accessible at reasonable prices on the Nairobi markets, making an individual shoe cost only £2.28 including labour. Secondly, the original business will then be expanded with a parallel enterprise: the manufacture of different, up-market shoes to be sold in Nairobi and other shops. These shoes will be marketed to urban middle classes as well as to tourists, in order to subsidize the wages and materials for the original shoes.
We are now in the initial stages of the project, identifying the full costs and benefits to achieve a rapid break-even for the business. Our team is working diligently on market research to create a viable business plan, with the help of fashion schools from Nairobi to create a prototype up-market shoe. We are also working to construct a locally appropriate educational campaign.
Spring 2019 Ideation of marketing campaign for Nairobi shoes and local educational campaign Business plan finalised
Autumn 2018 Market research for the original shoe Groundwork for the creation of a local team