Kleopas Malima, the co-founder of Clean Kicks Namibia, says government and the corporate world should create more funding schemes with reasonable and adequate time frames for entrepreneurs to repay loans.
Clean Kicks Namibia is a shoe care business that primarily focuses on the cleaning, colour restoration and fixing or repairing of casual, sports and formal shoes made from canvas, suede, nubuck, nylon and leather. The 26-year-old Malima told Youth Corner in terms of financing, the economic environment is not conducive for the survival of small businesses, and urged government to look into it.
“It comes with small things like tendering processes, procurement acts
and taxation. Institutions like the Development Bank of Namibia require small and medium enterprises to comply with these same set of processes that apply to large organisations, and it is not possible,” he expressed.
“Most entrepreneurs that I know, like myself, are not seeking handouts or seeking banks to give us funding just for the sake of it. We need reasonable finance, reasonable time frame to repay the loans and proper interest structures.”
Malima said the image of entrepreneurs is vital and they are not
the so-called “money-hungry clowns” who are trying to earn cash. They know and understand what they are doing, and they are doing it for the betterment of society.
Established in January 2020, Clean Kicks Namibia is doing relatively well this year, compared to last year, according to Malima.
“This year is generally much better than 2020; we have seen an increase in the volume of shoes we get and in terms of the performance of the business. This is probably because the business was new last year and then Covid-19 hit,” he highlighted. The Windhoek-based company consists of five young Namibians – all below the age of 30 from different backgrounds and ethnicities, with responsibilities varying from repairing shoes to cleaning and colour restoration. The receptionist does the administration and customer-related work.
“The shoe cleaning idea came from a couple of discussions with my partner and I. Conversations took place
with friends and people at different settings like barbershops, with the notion that no one cleans shoes in Namibia, yet shoes are one of the most expensive clothing items or fashion items, and they need to be taken care of,” he explained.
Malima said they took the opportunity to the market, first starting in Windhoek and now branching out to other parts of the country – and with time, they aim to expand continentally. “Around August, we are opening a branch in Ongwediva – and then before the end of the year, we will open one at the coast. The mission, as we go along, is to have a large footprint in the country and beyond the borders. “We have a few investors in other African countries who have approached us on the possibility of expanding the brand and that’s the
aim – to resonate with people on the continent,” he detailed.
One of the biggest hurdles, he outlined, with running such a business, is the
cultural shift because it is a new concept of cleaning shoes and many people are still not aware of it. “It will take a while before people get used to the idea of taking their shoes for cleaning.”
Collaboration is key
“We need to promote and support entrepreneurs in all their endeavours. We have partnerships with Gweri Vintage brand and with local entertainers like KP Illest. We have been in discussions with Two Point
Delivery on a collaboration. For bigger companies to be on board, they should see how the small ones are working together as well.”
“The shift that people need to adjust
to and realise is they need to pay someone to have their shoes cleaned; it’s like a phenomenon to some and we are here to normalise that and make it a point that people need to take care of their shoes,” stated Malima.