Shoes are perhaps among the most in-demand products in Kenya. This is because an average Kenyan buys shoes at least once a year. As a part of clothing, shoes are basic needs and hence will always be in demand. Let’s look at the factors to consider when starting a shoe business in Kenya.

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This need has created a chain of opportunity in the country cutting across various value chains. Some of these include shoe manufacturers, retailers, and repairers. This article will focus on the retailers as this is where the majority of shoe traders belong.

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Ready market- As a basic need, shoes will always have a market in the country irrespective of the location of the business. Hence, this makes it succeed in this business as long as you run the business professionally.

Low startup capital – You can get into this business even with little capital. This is because some of the shoes such as second-hand ones are not expensive making it easier to stock. Low startup capital makes it possible for almost everyone to get into this business.

The costs of shoe business permits are also low making getting into the business affordable.

No special skills requirement-Selling shoes doesn’t need any special skills to become successful other than the basic entrepreneurship traits. This also makes it possible for almost everyone to get into the business.

Factors to Consider when Starting a Shoe Business in Kenya

There are various factors you need to consider when starting a shoe business in Kenya. These are key in making the business successful if well planned. They include;

1.  Target market

The target market is the segment of customers that you intend to sell your shoes to. This can be divided into different categories such as gender, social status, or specialty.

As a small-scale retailer, you should focus on one segment of the market to maximize your products. There is a clear different type of shoes for both men and women. Hence, you need to identify the one that suits you best. This will also help define other market elements such as marketing and pricing.

On social status, you should consider whether to sell low-end or high-end shoes. This is defined both by price and quality. If you are targeting the low-end shoe market, consider selling second-hand shoes and those that are non-designers.

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This factor will also help in identifying the location of the business. For low-end shoes, it is ideal to locate the business in local markets and busy streets. However, if you are dealing in high-end shoes, focus on targeting high-income areas for location and areas such as shopping malls.

Speciality shoes target a specific segment of the market or profession. These shoes are designed to fit certain roles based on the task. An example of this is the security guards’ shoes or factory workers’ shoes. However, this category is more capital intensive to start with as these shoes sell at a premium.

2.  Business Location

The location of a business could determine your success or failure as a business person. Hence, you need to ensure the business is located in an area that customers can access easily. Other elements to consider when choosing a business location include factors such as rent costs and security.

The rent/lease of your business premises should be affordable and sustainable. This helps reduce the business costs in return for boosting the income.  The area should also be secure to avoid losses through theft. Some of the measure you can take to enforce this is getting an insurance cover and ensuring there are adequate physical security features.

If you are targeting to sell low-end shoes, the ideal location should be in areas with a mass reach such as local markets and busy streets. However, if you plan to sell high-end or luxury shoes, target an ideal location such as high-end malls and high-income neighborhoods.

Selling high-end shoes in a local market will not make sense as the majority in such a setting can’t afford them. Hence, focus to place the business where the market is.

3.  Suppliers

Suppliers are an integral part of the success of this business. A good supplier is affordable and reliable. As a retailer, you will need to get your shoe stock from a supplier occasionally.

Hence, target to get a supplier that will always meet your needs. A supplier should also have a variety and latest shoes on the market. This is because shoe trend changes very fast and the only way to remain competitive is to keep up with these changes.

On the financial end, get a supplier that accepts flexible payments such as delivering stock on credit. Such a supplier is key when you are facing cashflow challenges and you still need stock.

Hence, target to build a long-term relationship with your suppliers. Ask them to offer you good discounts because you are buying in bulk. Such a measure will result in increased earning due to reduced buying costs.

4.  Capital

Capital is what determines the size and location where to start the business. Small capital can only get you a small business in an affordable location. If the capital levels are high, it allows for starting a bigger business in a more expensive area.

Hence, you should ensure your capital is adequate to get the business started. However, this business allows you to start small and get bigger over time. This is because you can get in with as little as 10,000 shillings.

There are various sources of capital that you can explore to start the business. Some of these include savings and getting a loan from a financial institution such as a bank or a Sacco. Learn more on Factors to Consider Before Taking a Loan in Kenya.

If you are using a loan to get capital for the business, ensure to negotiate the interest rates to minimize the financial costs.

5.  Regulations

There are various regulations that you need to comply with when starting and running this business. This makes it a key factor to consider when starting a shoe business in Kenya. Some of these include getting the various permits and licenses necessary to ensure the business is legal.

A key example is the business permit. A requirement all businesses operating in Kenya should have. Below is the Process of How to Apply For a Single Business Permit in Nairobi.

Other key regulations include Registering Your Business and complying with the labor laws if the business has employees. Some of these include making statutory payments such as NHIF insurance payments.

Failure to adhere to the set regulations could result in prosecution or business closure by the authorities. For further clarifications, you can engage the local county offices.


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