Display of some of locally made shoes in Marigiti area in Gakoromone. Photo. Levy Simiyu


Eric Murithi dropped out of school when he was in form three to venture into the business world. After making this decision he travelled to Nairobi where he met a friend who trained him in the craft of shoe making from 2012 to 2015. He then returned to Meru and opened his own shop with the help of his parents and the little savings he had.
According to him, when starting the business, the main challenge was to get customers since he was new to the Meru market, but all that changed after he started serving many customers.
Following the Covid 19 pandemic that hit the country in 2019, many businesses were adversely affected and so was Murithi’s.
“When Corona hit our profits declined because of restriction on movement and curfew imposed by the government. Most of our customers were afraid of contracting the virus thus stayed indoors which made us have limited market. The 5p.m curfew forced us to close our businesses early even if we had not made any money that day,” Murithi noted.
However, this changed after the nationwide curfew was lifted in 2021. Murithi says that the market is now good and the number of customers has increased significantly compared to back then in 2015. “When I began the business most of my customers were people residing in Meru, but now I have customers from other counties like Isiolo. Considering this increment in customers, there is a possibility that one day in the future we will be able to come up with our own brand for products, made in Meru,” Murithi noted.
Murithi adds that most of the raw materials that they use come from industries in Nairobi like; Dismus leather, Skeats leather industry and Nyatike leather among others. Kenya Leather was once their supplier of raw materials, but it was closed down. According to him, most of the leather industries provide them with quality leather products and fair prices. “The raw materials that we order are of good quality. Whenever we receive products that we are not satisfied with we send them back to the suppliers. In the past we used shoe lasts that were made here in Meru using timber. These were good but not long lasting. Currently we import the shoe lasts from China and they are of high quality,” Murithi added.

He stated that working together with other shoe makers in an enclosed space, (Marigiti) did not pose a threat to his business because customers have their own taste and choose from the vendors they prefer. According to Murithi, all the shoe makers working in Marigiti jointly formed a Sacco in which they save weekly and one qualifies for a loan after a period of four months.
“We work in harmony with the county government. We only pay Ksh500 monthly fee and annual license. Although the government does not support us financially, they have provided us with other services like; cleaning the washrooms, sweeping the market area and providing security at night,” Murithi said.
Insecurity has posed a challenge to business people in Marigiti with cases of theft being reported.
“Many have complained that their products have been stolen forcing the authorities to take measures like closing the market as early as 6p.m, which is disadvantageous to us,” Murithi stated.
Muriithi has been in this business for eight years and says that he will continue making shoes in the foreseeable future so as to be able to provide for his family of five children.
“I can’t complain, the profit I make from this business has helped me put a meal on the table for my family and even send my children to school,” Murithi noted.
He adds that his children are not interested in the business, but if they were he would gladly teach them the craft.
He urges young people to use their skills and talents other than focusing on academics alone and white colour jobs.
“My message to young people is that it is not a must to be too learned to succeed in the business world. Sometimes you just need your talent and skills to make it in life. I advise young people who did not preform well in school to try shoe making or any other income generating activity. I have done it and so can you,” Murithi ended.


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