On April 16, the Trade Hub visited two footwear manufacturing companies in Durban, South Africa that have been invited to attend Source Africa 2015, the major textiles, apparel, and footwear trade show event occurring June 9-11 in Cape Town. The visit was escorted by the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council and offered the opportunity to assess the factories and their capacities. Neither factory is currently exporting under AGOA, but both are interested in the export market and hope to pursue business leads at Source Africa.
Nikita Brand footwear has over 130 employees and the capacity to manufacture 7,000-10,000 pairs of shoes per day, ranging from children’s and school shoes to fashion footwear and men’s shoes. Thus far Nikita has not tapped into the international export market but has an upcoming order from the UK to launch that side of the business.
Labourde Shoes was founded 25 years ago and has between 350 and 400 employees. The company is just beginning its involvement in the exporting business and is interested in the regional Africa market. Labourde has also established a school to teach local youth about the shoe industry, with 44 students from less-advantaged communities learning life skills, computer skills, and technical skills such as how to cut leather while being paid a weekly salary. Graduates leave the school well equipped to find other opportunities: one graduate will be pursuing a career in shoe design while another has received a six-month internship with a footwear company in China.