Revival Of Production In The Footwear Industry In Kenya The Case Of Kariokor In Nairobi
Okello, Easter Elizabeth
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In the context of Kenya’s long-term vision to become an industrialized middle-income country by 2030, its leather and leather products sector, especially the footwear industry offers an important opportunity for industrialization. Having been hard hit due to the structural adjustment programmes in the 1980s, most production units for the informal footwear were on the verge of collapse due to the liberalization of markets and imports of cheap shoes from China and other foreign countries. However, the informal footwear industries at Kariokor seemed to have survived the challenges and are still in footwear production business. Even though production of footwear in the informal industry has increased over the years, it still seems to have an unmet potential whose cause is not clearly highlighted in existing literature. It is against this background that this study provides an understanding of how revival of production of footwear in the informal industry at Kariokor, has taken place over the years and establishes how it has survived amidst the shoe influx phenomenon in Kenya. This process of revival has been assessed through the changes in machinery use, design development, product quality and access to market. This study used a descriptive survey design to show case how the footwear industry has undergone changes in the past five years. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect primary data from the respondents using survey questionnaires and key informant interview guides. A qualitative approach of content analysis was suitable for the study since it allowed data collection from the key informants regarding the process of revival. The quantitative approach, through a descriptive analysis was used to show the rate of production of the footwear in relation to the variables mentioned. The key informants were obtained using a purposive sampling technique because they had specific information needed for the study regarding the footwear industry revival process, while the rest of the respondents were obtained through a simple random sampling technique. The study has shown that even though the producers lack industrial machines, the hand tools that they use still serve the purpose of production. It was also found that all the producers mainly rely on the local markets to distribute their shoes. It was however observed that despite the increased production of shoes, the shoe deficit in Kenya still stands at 24 million pairs and that the industry has a potential to fill it. Another issue emerging from the study is that the training in footwear production is mainly through apprenticeship; a process that ensures continuity in production through transfer of skills from one generation to another. In reference to the above information, the study also established that the footwear industry’s growth in Kenya is bestowed on the small enterprises, which often work in with minimal support from the government and other key stakeholders. It was also established that there has been an effort by the government of Kenya to train the footwear producers through the workshops organized by the Kenya Leather Development Council (KLDC). In order to improve production in the footwear industry, the study made two main recommendations. Firstly, that there should be more sensitization of the producers on the existing footwear training programmes. Secondly, that the players in the industry should be encouraged to embrace appropriate industrial machinery in footwear production processes.
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