The Ababa : A design journey with a cause


When we began work on the Ababa, our initial goal was to design a shoe that needed as little shoe making as possible. Normal shoes have more than 50 components and rely on multiple processes which need different machines and often years of shoemaking know how. Good design is simple design, and this was a perfect opportunity to put that to the test.


The starting point for the Ababa’s design was ‘what could we do without, whilst making a shoe that looks and feels better than any shoe we have ever made’. We got the sole to do most of the job - the stitch down construction means there is much less glue, and the cup and heel rocker design give shape and structure while eliminating lots of unnecessary components. It’s all built on the latest ‘super natural’ last shape that we have been working on for over 2 years, our widest, most barefoot design. The upper is a simple slip available in canvas or Wild Hide leather, and the resulting shoe has all the makings of being a future ‘footshaped’ icon.




As a member of the Soul of Africa range, the sale of each pair assures a contribution to sustaining the Soul of Africa goal of creating opportunities for employment by responsibly growing shoe industries on the African continent, returning profits from their international sale to socially beneficial local projects. Over the past year, we’ve been collaborating with Soul of Africa on one of the most exciting Vivobarefoot projects to date: building a brand new shoe production line in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that will become the sole home of our Ababa shoe production.


The Ababa’s story doesn’t stop here. Since 2003, The Soul of Africa Trust has been using profits from shoe sales to support truly inspirational projects – with a reach of over 17,000 children and their families. These projects span from the care of kids in need and providing access to education to developing adult skill sets and opportunities for employment. 


Lady B is a Brave Hearts Guardian and has received support in setting up her own business selling vegetables

The Brave Hearts Foundation

Based in Addis Ababa, Brave Hearts help to assure care and education for vulnerable children, spanning from infancy to higher education. The foundation trains and supports women as guardians to the children, as well as running employment workshops and providing micro-finance schemes to help them start their own businesses.





Girls are supported through education and their passion for running is nurtured with Girls Gotta Run

Girls Gotta Run

Girls Gotta Run has cultivated several successful projects that empower Ethiopian women runners and their communities. In each of their projects, female athletes have been reaching their educational, athletic and individual goals – notably through their two scholarship programmes based in Bekoji and Sodo.






Meaning ‘Living Through Hope’, Philangethemba is based in South Africa and focuses on income generation for adults, education for children and helping to establish supportive family environments and communities. They provide an array of workshops for adults that span from child development to employment skills, and regular support of schools in order to improve facilities and create nourishing learning environments.




We’ll be sharing updates on the Ababa’s journey as the project continues to establish deepening roots and its far-reaching impact is further established.

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