Kenyan footwear design house Pine Kazi turns fruits waste into shoes, bags prize from AfDB

KENYA – Pine Kazi, a women-led Kenyan shoe design house converting pineapple leaf and recycled rubber into fashionable footwear, has been named as the winner of the Fashionomics Africa initiative.

Fashionomics Africa is an initiative of the African Development Bank in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, the Parsons School of Design and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, aimed to increase Africa’s participation in the global textile and fashion industry value chains – with an emphasis on women and youth.

Being its inaugural contest, its aim was to honour African fashion brands working to change how fashion is produced, bought, used and recycled, to encourage more sustainable consumer behaviour.

Pine Kazi has bagged the US$2,000 competition cash prize which they will utilize in research and development of natural dyes, acquisition of professional stylists and the establishment of a centralized production system.

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The brand, co-founded by Olivia Okinyi, Angela Musyoka and Mike Langa, uses pineapple textile for the upper part of the shoe, while the inside is lined with organic cotton. The sole is made from sisal plant fiber, fitted with recycled tyre underneath.

They are 100% handmade to reduce carbon footprint and can last three years, highlights AfDB.

“Pine Kazi is greatly humbled to be the winners of the first Fashionomics Africa contest in Africa. This is indeed an honour to the Kenyan people and the African continent at large,” said Okinyi.

Musyoka added, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage and the patience to pursue them.”

“What we learned from this Fashionomics Africa contest, in this month celebrating women around the world, is that many women entrepreneurs are advocating for sustainable production and consumption, and we commend their efforts.”

Amel Hamza, Division Manager at the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department

Other than the cash price, the business will have the opportunity to showcase its creation in online events, share insights on key sustainability challenges facing the industry and receive a certificate.

Also, they will have access to media opportunities and receive mentoring and networking opportunities from competition collaborators.

A panel of four judges representing the competition partners reviewed 110 entries from 24 African countries and selected three finalists.

Pine Kazi; CiiE Luxuries, an eco-friendly accessories business based in Abuja, Nigeria; and clothing brand Labake Lagos.

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“We were pleasantly surprised by all the applications received for the first edition of our Fashionomics Africa competition.

“It was very difficult to make a choice, but the finalists stood out with their innovative, durable and contemporary designs,” said Emanuela Gregorio, coordinator of the Fashionomics Africa initiative at the African Development Bank.

Of the applications, 65% were submitted by women and the businesses were predominantly micro-enterprises (54%), solo entrepreneurs (35%) and small businesses (12%).

“What we learned from this Fashionomics Africa contest, in this month celebrating women around the world, is that many women entrepreneurs are advocating for sustainable production and consumption, and we commend their efforts,” said Amel Hamza, Division Manager at the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department.

Other than the judges’ assessment, an online public vote by 986 participants determined the winner: Pine Kazi got 400 votes, 318 votes went to CiiE Luxuries, and 268 to Labake Lagos.

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