Enda is a special brand of running shoes assembled in Kenya, a country that has become famous for producing some of the world’s greatest distance runners. Started in Kenya four years ago, it is only now beginning to be sold in a few European stores, for the moment only in Italy and Spain.
The U.S., where Enda has its own sales team and DTC program, made up about 90 percent of Enda’s turnover last year, with the balance sold mainly in Africa and through its own international web store. After making its first appearance at ISPO Munich in January 2020, it enlisted an agent for the Italian market and a distributor for Spain.
The Italian market is covered since last September by Marco Rocca, who knows the running market well. He took care of Brooks Running’s distribution in Italy for 14 years until 2016, first as an agent and then as the brand’s country manager.
Rocca has collected orders for about 2,000 pairs of Enda shoes from 47 Italian specialty stores for the spring/summer 2021 season, but they are only being delivered now from a new distribution center in the Netherlands because of the supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19. Giorgio Garello, a former colleague of Rocca who has also worked for Asics, is now helping to push the sell-through by marketing the brand through the social media.
The Spanish distributor since March is Sport Different, a company founded in 2009 that also sells Polar Bottle, Ronhill running clothing and Hilly Socks. It plans to sell around 1,000 pairs from its inventories this year, having taking orders from 16 points of sale so far and hoping to add five or six others.
Enda’s collection for the current season consists of two models for road running and one model for trail running in the three colors of Kenya’s national flag and with specific lasts for men and women. The next one will be wider, and it will have a more African twist to it.
Enda is a name that means “go!” in Swahili. Its logo represents the head of a spear, similar to a symbol of liberty featured in Kenya’s flag. It stands for energy and forward movement.
Like with other brands, the components used in Enda’s shoes come from China, but they are assembled in Kenya at a factory in Mombasa. With a workforce of 45 employees, it made a total of about 7,000 pairs in 2020. Kennedy says the production is expected to double this year.
The brand was launched in 2017 with only one model sold through a crowdfunding campaign. The Kenyan government subsequently provided some funding to help take the project up to the next level.
Enda is run by Navalayo Osembo-Ombati, a Kenyan lawyer and accountant who graduated in London and also worked in other countries. She founded the brand together with Weldon Kennedy, a British-American entrepreneur who has also worked as a manager of change.com in Europe. Both of them live now in Kenya.
Enda has been certified as a climate-neutral company. A portion of the purchase price for each pair of shoes goes toward a foundation to finance local projects chosen by a committee of experts every six months, with input from the brand’s customers. The main goal is to create new jobs in a country where the unemployment rate stands at 17 percent.