Meet the TEF Entrepreneur Who Designed Customized Sneakers for Tony Elumelu
2016 TEF Entrepreneur, Babajide Ipaye took some time out to figure out what the Founder Tony O. Elumelu would like and took a bold step to design a customised product for him. We caught up this enthusiastic entrepreneur and found out more about him
TEF: How did you get your idea or concept for Keexs?
Babajide Ipaye: Keexs started out as a personal challenge for me. Being an European size 48, I hardly get my size and when I eventually do, they are not exactly the style I like. So I decided to make my own shoes. I took the first step in conducting a research and went to a school in Netherlands to learn how to design and manufacture sneakers. I didn’t want to focus on regular shoes. I wanted my designs to stand out and honestly saw this as an opportunity to help other people. This was the basis for setting up the first innovative and social footwear in Nigeria.
TEF: Tell us more about Keexs
BI: The KEEXS footwear brand is an African inspired range of casual footwear that Brings out the Cool in any man or lady. It is also for people who are expressive and unapologetic for style choices. Our name KEEXS originates two words KICKS which means casual footwear, sneakers, shoes with rubber related soles and KEEK which means to peep surreptitiously.
TEF: How did you go about the shoe design for the Founder
BI: Designing the shoes for Mr. Tony Elumelu was all about understanding the man behind the Foundation. We needed a single word to define him as person based on his past antecedents as well as his current engagements and future plans. A visionary is one who can envision the past as well as the feature. The perfect word is “Visionary”. He is a visionary entrepreneur and philantrophist with a great interest in supporting the growth of SMEs and Youth interested in starting up business in Africa because he recognises this is the future. We also chose the color red because it signifies the founder’s passion as well the colors that appear to be a common denominator with all his companies
TEF: How does Keexs help the community where its located?
BI: The mission for us at Keexs has always been to create as many jobs as possible with our community at heart. Currently we have partnered with local artistes to produce art inspirations in our products of which they in turn earn a royalty or payment for jobs done. We also have plans to set aside 10% of our profit for poverty alleviation.
TEF: How did you feel when you realized you had been selected to participate in the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme?
BI: I had seen a lot of information on the programme on social media and was eventually moved to apply by a family member. You know, being selected out of 45,000 applicants, for me was reassuring that my business idea is on the right track.
TEF: What are your expectations from the TEF Forum?
BI: I’m looking forward to networking, meeting other entrepreneurs from across Africa for partnering purposes and most importantly to learn.