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Enda and Bathu: the African culture packaged in running shoes

Have you heard about Enda and Bathu?

Two young African homegrown sneaker brands that tell an authentic African narrative and export the African culture in a very meaningful way.

Enda is Kenyan and Bathu, South African. Both brands claim to be the first African brand of sneakers because both were born almost at the same time. Bathu was launched in 2015, with its first collection, the Mesh, which is today already iconic, and Enda was born in 2016 after a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Enda focuses on high performance. Kenyans are known to be exceptional long-distance runners, they were lacking of a high-performance homegrown running shoe brand. The gap is now filled. Regarding the South African brand Bathu, it is more of a lifestyle sneaker brand, inspired by the streets of Alexandra and Soweto where the first 100 pairs were sold. This street spirit is reflected in one of the brand’s mottos: “Be your own hero”, revealing who you are while staying true to who you are…

Both Bathu and Enda are packed with cultural references of their country. Bathu means shoes in Kasi slang, and the coloured stripes on the sole remind of the South African flag. Enda also uses the colors of the Kenyan flag (red, green and black) on the shoelaces, the brand logo represents the traditional Kenyan hunting tool that is also on the country’s coat of arms and Enda shoes are stuffed with genuine Kenyan newspapers…

In addition to being climate neutral, both brands are manufactured locally, supporting local communities and creating sustainable jobs. At Enda, 2% of the revenues are given back to community projects.

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Why is it inspiring?

Both brands portray an authentic African story through product cues: logo, colors, laces, soles, etc. and through different communication media: social networks, website, etc.

Both are meaningful brands with a true social impact: for Enda, the word “Harambee”, meaning in Swahili “Let’s pull together”, is written on each shoe sole as a mantra of togetherness and sense of community, which are the founding values of the brand. As for Bathu, it collaborates with other famous South African brands which target the South African youth, like Castle Lite from ABInBev.

Both brands enhance a sense of pride: the pride to be African. This feeling instilled by the brands is a powerful marketing tool. It is highly spreadable and positively impacts sales nationally and overseas. Enda is now exported in the USA, bringing this sense of African pride into America. As for Bathu, the brand aims to “reignite hope” in people’s mind as it is said in its brand purposes.

Take-outs for brands

Make products that are packed with cultural references of your country. Think the “Made in France” movement which has become a powerful marketing proposition.

Develop products that have a visible social impact. The “give back” is very common in Africa, make it spread in other parts of the world.

In addition to be a meaningful and socially impactful brand, try to be a brand that brings a sense of happiness and pride. Enda and Bathu are fulfilling this role in a beautiful way.