A range of consciously crafted shoes, with the aim of empowering their makers and giving back to local communities. The Soul of Africa project is on a mission to introduce social and environmental sustainability to the shoe industry, starting in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s bustling capital city is the inspiration for our latest SOA design, The Ababa slip-on, and the home of a brand-new production line, launched in collaboration with Pittards’ Tannery at the beginning of 2017. It currently employs 8 freshly trained cobblers, with a further 22 set to join the team in time for AW17 and grow as the new range of shoes continues to gather momentum.
Currently in early stages of development, the production line is quickly establishing itself and is on track to be completing the entire shoe in the foreseeable future – from forming the last to finishing the last stitches. The new employees are learning the art of shoe making from the ground (or foot!) upwards, rapidly developing the skills of a diverse trade.
The Soul of Africa Charitable Trust, founded by Lancelot Clark (former MD of Clarks shoes and father to Vivo MD, Galahad), has been passionately working to create opportunities for employment in shoe-making on the African continent since 2003. The Trust then gathers profits from international sales and returns them to inspirational local projects.
Soul of Africa has developed a long-standing relationship with Brave Hearts Ethiopia (BHE), a truly inspirational NGO based in Addis Ababa, not far from the factory. Brave Hearts Ethiopia support their local community in two keys ways: providing support & education for young people in need, and helping women to find empowerment through employment.
From infancy right through to adolescence, the dedicated Brave Hearts team help to make sure that young people receive all the care & guidance they need to become happy, inspired young adults. They help train and support guardians for those who have lost their parents, and make sure that every child receives an education. Some of the young adults under BHE’s support are hoping to begin training at the new production line in the near future, whilst others are embarking on university and apprenticeships for other trades.
Brave Hearts Ethiopia also supports women, both mothers and guardians, to find reliable employment that gives the freedom to care for their families. Through the success of micro-finance projects, these women are able to start small businesses that generate a steady income – an initiative that’s seen huge success. By providing guidance on business & finance management alongside funding, BHE has helped many women find long-term independence and empowerment.
We’re proud to be able to begin introducing you to who made your shoes, and to share the impact that sustainable fashion can have on the lives of individuals. By purchasing the Ababa shoe, you can lend your support to the project and help it continue to grow and flourish.