With the whole world going green, Africa has not been left behind. In yet another achievement for young entrepreneurs in Africa, Pine Kazi, which converts pineapple leaves and recycled rubber into fashionable footwear, recently won an award for its eco-friendly efforts.
Pine Kazi was founded in 2019 in a bid to help reduce waste from pineapple production. It scooped the $2,000 Fashionomics Africa competition prize and will have an opportunity to showcase its creation in online events as well as share insights on key sustainability challenges in the industry.
The brand, co-founded by Olivia Okinyi, Angela Musyoka and Mike Langa, also gets access to media opportunities, mentoring and networking opportunities from competition collaborators.
In separate interviews Okinyi and Musyoka said they were greatly humbled to be the winners of the inaugural competition, a sign that all dreams come true if Africans have the courage and patience to pursue them. According to competition judges, Pine Kazi’s shoes are innovative and sustainable. The upper portion of the shoe is made from pineapple textile, while the inside is lined with organic cotton. The sole is made from sisal plant fibre and fitted with recycled tyres underneath.
Coordinator of the Fashionomics Africa initiative at the African Development Bank, Emanuela Gregorio, said it was a pleasant surprise to receive the applications for the first edition of the Fashionomics Africa competition. The stiff competition made life difficult for the panel, but the winners stood out with their innovative, durable and contemporary designs.
Amel Hamza, division manager at the bank’s gender, women and civil society department, said the contest has taught stakeholders that many women entrepreneurs are advocating for sustainable production and consumption and commended their efforts. Okinyi wrote in Pine Kazi’s competition entry that if they won, they would invest half the winnings in machinery used to make shoe source materials.
“[This machinery] will see pineapple leaf waste put to work and create more green jobs for unemployed youth,” she said, as reported by Africa News.
Of the applications, 65% were submitted by women, and the businesses were predominantly micro-enterprises (54%), solo entrepreneurs (35%) and small businesses (12%). The Fashionomics Africa contest honours African fashion brands working to change how fashion is produced, bought, used and recycled. The goal is to encourage more sustainable consumer behaviour.
An online public vote by 986 participants determined the winner: Pine Kazi got 400 votes, 318 votes went to CiiE Luxuries, and 268 to Labake Lagos.
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Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.