Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Pinekazi: Meet founders of Kenyan startup converting pineapples to Sh. 6,900 shoes

As the world increasingly turns to sustainability, Africa is also embracing the green movement. Young entrepreneurs are leading this shift by pioneering innovative and eco-friendly solutions.

One such startup, PineKazi, established in 2019, is at the forefront of sustainable innovation. It aims to transform pineapple leaves and recycled rubber into footwear and address waste from pineapple production in the process.

PineKazi has gained international attention for its innovative approach. They buy pineapple suckers from farmers at Sh. 15 and process the leaves into fibres, which are then used to manufacture various end products.

The brand’s co-founders, Olivia Awuor, Angela Musyoka, and Mike Langat, have explained that it can take up to 16 suckers to complete a product, which retails at Sh. 6,900. However, they offer wholesale prices at Sh. 5,600.

The award-winning young entrepreneurs further noted that the products they make are mostly handmade, in a laborious and time-consuming process.

“Annually about 766 million tonnes of post-harvest pineapple leaves are usually produced and they are burnt or chemically decomposed,” said the group’s CEO, Olivia Awuor.

“So, by collecting this waste, for every 1,000 tonnes of waste we collect, we reduce carbon and methane emissions by 0.28 metric tonnes,” said the young pacemaker.

PineKazi was recognized as one of the top 6 African startups contributing measurable and positive impacts towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

They also won the Hult Prize Summit regionals in Nairobi before proceeding to compete at the global accelerator in Paris, France.

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Judges at the competitions ruled that Pinekazi’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.

The main challenge facing PineKazi, like many startups, is financial constraints hindering their expansion, research, and operational activities. CEO Yvonne Awuor expressed the company’s intention to develop new products in the future.

Nevertheless, the three co-founders now have access to media opportunities, mentoring, and networking opportunities from competition collaborators.

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