A Social Business Incubator In The Eastern Congo

Kivu leather: The best shoes in town

Olivier Maheshe set about learning his trade through apprenticeships and worked in the mining industry to get enough funds to get Kivu Leather off the ground. He secured several wholesalers who re-sell his products on the local markets. Olivier continues to support other local businesses by purchasing all his supplies and leathers through them. But Olivier wanted more for Kivu Leather.


Kivu Leather's Mission


Despite demand for footwear in Congo, most is imported from Dubai and China. Shipping costs, import taxes and illegal taxes are added on top and inevitably mean that they are being sold at 4 or 5 times the original cost to the public. Footwear offers vital protection from injury, animal bites and infection but with the average income $20 a month, the costs for imported shoes are far out of reach for many of DRC’s nationals.

Kivu Leather have made it their mission to meet the needs of their community and provide affordable but high quality leather shoes and sandals. 

Ensemble SUPPORT


In October 2015 Ensemble provided a loan to Kivu Leather to enable them to move from their Kadutu slum to a far nicer workshop in Commune d’banda in Bukavu. 

Immediately production and sales increased and the success of the loan lead Ensemble to provide a second loan in September 2016 to enable the purchase of new machinery: two sewing machines and a laser cutter.

With this loan, Kivu Leather was also able to construct a hangar to improve the working space. 


Kivu Leather’s Impact and a Better Future


Production for Kivu leather has increased significantly in their new workshop location in Commune d’Ibanda. The laser cutter enabled them to improve not only the quality of the shoes but also the quantity produced. By March 2017, production increased to 1320 pairs of sandals (for both men and women) and 7 pairs of men’s shoes. All shoes and 740 pairs of sandals were sold, generating respectively US $ 210 & US $ 2220 giving them a net profit of US $ 1370.

Kivu Leather partnered with Shalom, a local cooperative producing hand dyed fabric. Together they have developed a new line of women’s sandals. Demand for these sandals is increasing and consequently, Kivu Leather products have sparked interest Nationally.

Kivu Leather have successfully repaid their first loan in full and are repaying the second loan. With more stable income, Kivu Leather have been able to absorb any illegal taxes imposed by fraudulent officials and remain stable as a business. 

Kivu leather now employs 15 members of staff who are all able to provide their children with an education and are producing sandals which are accessible to the local market.

Kivu Leather are now looking to open an online shop with the means of freight nationally and support is needed from Ensemble Pour La Difference to develop it as well as a shop in town to continue their collaboration with Shalom and other local Design and Arts enterprises.