Kene Rapu is the founder and CEO of ‘Kene Rapu’, the No.1 Nigerian footwear brand championing local production, established in 2011.
Her brand has played a significant role in changing the face of ‘Made in Nigeria’ footwear. Kene is a fully qualified lawyer with an LLB law degree from the University of Bristol, UK and a Masters Degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship from the London College of Fashion, UK.
In 2016 she was selected by the Tony Elumelu Foundation as one of 1000 African Entrepreneurs who’s idea could “change Africa”, in 2017 as one of 100 ‘Most Influential’ women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa and most recently listed in the prestigious Forbes Africa ’30 under 30’ class of 2018, in the business category.
All Kene Rapu slippers are proudly made in Nigeria for the global community.
Dream big but start small, grow as organically as possible - @KeneRapu Click To Tweet
What vision did you have when you started out, is it different from what you are experiencing now?
Our vision was to be the No.1 Nigerian footwear brand championing local production, and it has
remained the same.
We are excited about the progress we have made so far, and are looking forward to getting the nations wearing KR.
What is it like making it to Forbes 30 under 30 lists?
The journey so far makes me more excited for the road ahead. I’m passionate about what I do, and it is humbling and encouraging to know that something I started 7 years ago, has morphed into a business that is recognized globally.
How has this exposure impacted your brand?
Having a world renown brand highlight your business as one of 30 emerging brands in Africa, is definitely gratifying for a business owner, increases consumer trust and opens you up to a new network of professionals and investors.
How can an entrepreneur build a solid brand?
In whatever area you want to go into, do your market research. Find a unique selling point, find something that makes your brand different from everyone else in that market.
Know your customer, define him or her, have a clear vision of where you want your brand to go; stay focused and remember why you started.
Having come this far starting out in 2011, what important lesson can aspiring entrepreneurs take from your journey?
Dream big but start small, grow as organically as possible.
Understand that there is no such thing as an overnight success. Hard work pays. Consistency and integrity are important. Provide value; a quality product will market itself.
How do you deal with gender biases you encounter as a woman running an enterprise?
As a female in business, sometimes there are unnecessary issues you have to deal with, that
should not be the case. However, challenges make you stronger, whether gender-related or
otherwise; deal with them head on and move on.
When you jump past hurdles, it is a testament that indeed you are a survivor. I also believe surrounding yourself with the right company is helpful. I have female friends in the business, and we spend time discussing how to resolve our common challenges. Having strong ladies in your corner certainly makes the journey easier.
What message do you have for women who need the courage to follow their passion?
Go for it. The road is not easy, in fact, it is difficult, but it is certainly gratifying when you begin to break through. Seize the moment and start now.
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