CNN's African Voices - My FrontPager

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KEEXS founder outlines the importance of community to entrepreneurship on CNN’s ‘African Voices’

This week ‘African Voices’ meets Jide Ipaye, an upcoming Nigerian shoe designer and founder of KEEXS – a brand hoping to give back to communities in Africa.

The programme reports from Lagos, where Ipaye explains what inspired his start-up: “I think the gratification comes from the fact that I can actually see people wearing an idea. This is what KEEXS is all about - shoes that have a pop, that have African DNA in it.”

‘African Voices’ hears how Ipaye founded KEEXS in the hope of providing a form of upward mobility for communities across the continent.

Ipaye tells the programme: “I never thought about KEEXS as a method of making a living for myself. I think KEEXS for me is a venue for me creating an impact. It goes beyond just making money.”
One of KEEXS’ projects is the One-Day-Shoe initiative, where Africans are invited to submit a style or pattern of show that can be produced within a day with minimal experience.

Ipaye outlines the success of the initiative to ‘African Voices’: “We've got people in remote communities, who don't have jobs or who are not economically empowered, and we can then begin to teach them how to make the shoes. Then they produce the shoes, we pay them, we sell the shoes, and we keep the cycle going. So it's about creating change through footwear.”

‘African Voices’ hears that Ipaye had an untraditional upbringing, having lost his parents at a young age, he spent his childhood growing up in many different communities with other members of his family.

Reflecting on this period, Ipaye explains to the programme how this period has contributed to the expansion of KEEXS: “I had that opportunity of living with different people, experiencing different cultures. I think that also shaped my quest to constantly search for new frontiers, and I think entrepreneurship has afforded me that opportunity to do that.”

‘African Voices’ accompanies Ipaye to visit suppliers across the city as part of his research for potentially establishing a factory in Nigeria.

Alongside the craftsmanship and creativity involved in KEEXS, Ipaye explains why he believes footwear can help impact people’s lives: “Sneakers comes across to me as freedom of expression. Also it comes to me as a canvas on which you can express or convey a message. It tells me it's open, it's youthful. It's freedom, basically - the ability to do whatever you want to do, the ability to go to wherever you want to go, and being comfortable in your own skin.”

Also in this week’s ‘African Voices’, the programme meets model Noëlla Coursaris, who is using her fame to help young girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The programme also reports from Mauritius, where it meets designer Mario Guillot.

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