Kwale’s first shoe factory opened its doors this week in Mvindeni area of Ukunda Township in Msambweni Sub County.
Josef Seibel Group, a German shoe making giant has started operations and rolling out the shoes under the brand name ‘Romika’.
An elaborate launching event of the Sh.150 million investment slated for this week has been delayed due to coronavirus.
Josef Seibel Group also owns the brands Josef Seibel, Spirit of Nature, Titian and the license for Gerry Weber.
The company’s proprietor Carl-August Seibel who flew in from Germany on Sunday, yesterday paid a courtesy call to Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya in his office.
The foreign investor was accompanied by Josef Seibel Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stefan Wentzel and Director Elijah Musili.
The investor is not new in Kwale as he had already financed the construction of Mekaela academies situated around Ukunda Township.
Additionally, the investor is setting up an online learning hub where students can take their lessons and interact with their tutors.
He said Romika produces shoes that reflect the spirit of the times in both style and colour using the best textiles and finest leathers.
The investor said the shoemaking factory has employed 200 youth besides the factory acting as a training centre for local shoemakers.
“For the time being only leather shoes for school children will be produced under the brand Romika” said Seibel during a media briefing.
He said the comfort shoes are to be sold exclusively in Kenya and will match respective school uniforms.
“The planned production is 1000 pairs of shoes per day until mid, 2021,” he said adding that originally established in the 1920’s, Romika has grown since his company took over in 2005.
He said all the equipment in the factory that began operations is some of the best in the world.
On his part Governor Mvurya said the factory comes at a time when investments especially in the manufacturing sector are mostly needed to stimulate economic growth during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The governor asked the shoe investor to ensure locals are given first opportunities in training and employment.
“I am glad they have already trained five Kwale natives in Germany on the shoe production who will then train new employees,’’ he said.
He said the investment will create employment and contribute to economic growth and development and substitute the import of shoes from outside Kenya.
“I want to assure all local and foreign investors that Kwale is open to investments,” he said.
Governor Mvurya took the opportunity to woo foreigners to invest in the coastal county saying his administration will continue working with investors in a bid to bring development to area residents.
He said with the new infrastructural development within Kwale his administration has been able to attract numerous investment, some of which are in the initial stages others are operational and some ready to start production.
“Further we have the construction of our fruit processing plant ongoing in Shimba hills, ongoing construction steel industry in Samburu, fish processing plant in Shimoni. We also have KENTASTE Company which has already begun the processing of coconut products for exportation,” he said.
He went on ‘indeed we have made progress in terms of attracting investors, this is what we promised to do & I believe we are headed in the right direction’.
By Hussein Abdullahi