Football (soccer) manufacturer Alive and Kicking Kenya (A + K) uses the power of sports to create employment and change lives. They inscribe inspirational messages on their hand stitched footballs to spread positive vibes in their community and in those who buy their footballs. They have strong demand for their product, but until they met the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub), they didn’t have access to high-quality leather to be able to meet the demand.
“The Hub’s support has been very significant to A + K. We are now able to increase our production while at the same time reduce our production cost. There is more demand for our leather products hence better employment opportunities for Kenyans,” said Richard Gituro, the Sales Manager at A+K.
The Hub provides technical support to companies who are looking to improve and expand their production to reach the export market. The Hub introduced A+K to the largest producer of high-quality leather in Kenya, Alpharama Limited. The Hub and Alpharama are partnering to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (like A + K) purchase quality leather in quantities smaller than what most tanneries allow. Access to high-quality leather from Alpharama has been a game changer for A + K. They are now able to access high-quality leather at affordable prices to make more footballs, which in turn has driven the need for more employment.
Juliet Auma, a former shopkeeper, says employment as a football stitcher at A+K has transformed her life. She is now able to afford transport, food, and school fees for her children. Her colleague Edward Orwaro, an employee since 2006, has the same sentiments. He says he has a passion for stitching footballs and is always happy to train students on short-term contracts. He is happy to be an employee with A &K, which offers him greater job stability than his previous work in the "Jua kali (informal, odd jobs) sector".
A+K employs 62 permanent employees, 14 short-term employees and has trained over 200 stitchers. Many of these trainees have been able to start their own businesses and create more employment opportunities for others. A + K produced over 42,000 footballs in 2015 and exported 10% of their production; they hope to produce even more in 2016!