How sustainable are your shoes? Ghanaian footwear design from recycled materials.
Updated: Sep 21
Laaru Consulting had the pleasure of learning more about Peter Kweku Anowie, co-founder and CEO of the popular Ghanaian footwear brand Koliko wear. These shoes are popular for their sustainability factor. Peter shares with us his passion for sustainable fashion, how Ghanan need to increase actions towards waste management and finally how Koliko wear wants to scale up. Interested in placing an order visit https://kolikowear.com/ for more details.
Who is Peter?
Peter Kweku Anowie is the Co-founder and CEO of Kolics Company Limited (Koliko wear). Peter was born and raised in Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana. He holds a first-class degree (BSc) in Economics & Business Administration and majored in Banking and Finance at Catholic University College of Ghana. He's an experienced social entrepreneur and has three years of experience in the banking industry. Peter is a graduate of the third cohort of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre-Ashesi University, which the World Bank Group, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, SNV, EY, and the Embassy of Denmark are supporting. He has also had several documentaries with some international media like CNN – Insight Africa, BBC Biz 100 and Voice of America, sensitizing the need for the whole world to rally behind Green Businesses springing up to help protect the environment and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
He has since been given the opportunity to mentor a start-up incubation programme organized by Recycle Up Ghana since 2021.
In 2022, Peter was nominated for several awards; he was recently among the Top 3 Finalists of the African Green Grant, which the Eleven Eleven Twelve Foundation organized. He also won the award for Innovation for Impact for Fontomfrom Amandze Awards 2022.
Why did you decide to go into the fashion industry?
I decided to enter the fashion industry because, growing up, I always wanted to look good and contribute to whatever I wore to make me look unique among my peers. Upon completing college and working in the banking industry, I chanced on an old schoolmate who was into the fashion industry but specialized in the footwear industry. He was making my custom-made shoes for me, and I realized that my colleagues in banking always admired my footwear. Ultimately, I partnered with him and started shoemaking as my side business, and later resigned from my profession to go into the fashion industry full-time.
What is your favourite part about being a shoe designer?
My favourite part of being a shoe designer is that my team and I provide customers with quality and affordable ladies' and gents' wear. We produce shoes for all and deliver on our promise. We use recycled materials (used car tires, leather bags, pieces of furniture, woollen textiles, jeans and clothing) for our shoes because we believe in protecting the environment through business philosophy. When people want to buy shoes, they are mostly made to select from predesigned ones, which they do not have control over. They need to be able to contribute to what the shoes they will wear will or should look like; this is what Koliko Wear provides. We co-create with customers who come with their designs. We provide customized sustainable shoes for all events on a timely basis.
One of my favourite parts of our business model is to provide quality and environmentally friendly shoes to all customers.
As part of our model, we support young, skilled people who need the opportunity to start their businesses by engaging them and developing innovative products around their skills. By doing so, we help to create employment in the shoe industry and help to reduce unemployment.
What are some of your major challenges faced in your line of work?
One of the significant challenges faced in our line of business is finding the right machinery for shoemaking.
As we already know, Ghana is not super into manufacturing shoes, so investors and the government don't take an interest in importing machinery for shoemaking. This makes it more expensive and difficult for an individual to import sophisticated machinery that can help one manufacture shoes that can compete with some of the top shoe brands in the world.
Technical support and advisory services in shoemaking is challenging not to talk of sustainable shoes; we don't have research centres to test some of the waste materials that are polluting the environment to turn them into something useful for shoe materials, this mainly limits our innovation skills. We are unable test other materials that could be recycled and used in our line of work.
Lastly, financial challenges: raising money to scale up our business operations takes a lot of work. Due to financial constraints, we cannot purchase sophisticated machinery and materials in larger quantities to help us scale up our business operations. We are overcoming these significant challenges by using more improvised means and standard light machinery to fit our production cycle. Due to our financial constraints, we are limited on how much human resources we can work with. Especially with our youth skills training capacity, we bring in a sizeable number of youth our budget can train over a specific period to enable us to be sustainable.
Do you think Ghana is tackling its waste problem effectively and efficiently?
Ghana is trying hard but needs to do more to manage the country's waste management challenges.
Not enough stakeholder meetings have been held to have an effective and efficient plan as to how best to design an acceptable policy that will help address these problems related to waste management, which most people have no control over. More attention must be directed to the ecosystem start-ups or enterprises that have Business Model Canvas (BMC) infiltrated in their business plan and help encourage them and make them investment ready to keep doing their best to help address this menace of waste within the country. If we do not increase our efforts to our waste management challenges, we will have a long-term negative impacts.
Are there growth opportunities in this industry for budding entrepreneurs?
With my experience in this industry for the past six years, I see many opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Initially, it was very challenging and not that attractive to enter into the waste industry. However, with consistent sensitization, customers are beginning to appreciate entrepreneurs in the waste management ecosystem. Due to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), other major agencies are shifting their focus and investment to entrepreneurs in that industry. With time, it will be a very lucrative industry that will help address the social and economic challenges most economies in Africa face.
Lastly, what is your favourite footwear?
My favourite type of footwear is our Koliko denim short desert boot; below is the picture.