Kenyans are known for their running prowess. But how has all this success on the world stage benefited the rest of the people of Kenya? This is the question that Navalayo (Nava) Osembo-Ombati and Weldon Kennedy hope to answer with their Benefit Corporation founded last year. Through Enda (meaning “Go!”in Swahili), the duo hope to not only bring the first Kenyan made running shoe to market but to also bring sustainable income to the country in the process.
Eden took advantage of the advice, skills, and experience of great Kenyan athletes to create the lightweight (224 grams) Iten running shoes. As Kenyans tend to land mid-foot or on the balls of their feet as they run, the Iten uses a 4 mm drop to promote that form. In addition, the midsole was brought up to cup the heel so your foot really sits down into it. This helps the shoe move with your foot when you’re running on terrain that might have you hitting at a funny angle or rolling a bit.
A wider toe box lets your toes splay naturally to help absorb impact, while the full rubber outsole is super durable and gives you grip on both pavement and light trails in case you want to off-road a bit on your run.
Some cool design details include the word “Harambee” printed on the outsole–it’s the official motto of Kenya and in Swahili means “all pull together.” Twelve lines on the lateral side of the shoe represent the date, December 12th, when Kenya became a republic, while the heel of the Iten is designed to mimic the Great Rift Valley where most of Kenya’s running champions can be found. All the geometric patterns and motifs of the upper come from traditional Kenyan fabric and beaded patterns. And in case you were wondering, the logo represents a spear.
To start, the running shoes will be only assembled in Kenya, with parts coming from running shoe factories in China. The goal, however, is to eventually build the entire shoe from start to finish within Kenya. That will take time, of course.
The Enda Iten running shoes come in three different colors to match the Kenyan flag, and the company is taking pre-orders over on Kickstarter for $125 (at time of writing).