Defeating Poverty In Ghana, One Shoe At A Time

Michael Kure

Walk a mile in George Kwame Baah’s shoes and you might get an inkling of his remarkable journey. In 11 years, Baah transitioned from a poverty-stricken life in his native Ghana to working as a full-time engineer in the United States, where he is founder and chief product designer of his own footwear e-commerce business, Kwame Baah.

Buying a pair of shoes was too expensive for Baah’s family when he was a child—so he innovated, making his own shoes out of recycled tires.

This experience led him to launch his namesake e-commerce business years later, selling contemporary-designed Ghanaian sandals and shoes across the United States.

Designed to alleviate poverty

Baah designs the footwear at the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, but the footwear products are handcrafted by his employees back in Ghana—mainly Baah’s mother, siblings, and some neighbors. Handcrafting these signature shoes enables all to support themselves.

“Kwame Baah shoes are designed to alleviate poverty,” Baah said.

It is the driving force behind Kwame Baah. And the company does so by providing a living wage for its workers in Baah’s Ghanaian hometown.

That’s a big reason why George’s passion to see his business succeed is as strong as his altruism.

Supporting his business, family, and fellow townspeople

George was inspired to launch Kwame Baah in part by his native culture, which values support and neighbors who need financial help. Baah accepts and owns this responsibility unconditionally.

Baah came to the U.S. in 2000 to study engineering, which led to a full-time job. Yet he still chose to enter an already crowded global industry dominated by powerhouse competition such as Nike and Adidas.

That can be challenging. Consumers are generally hesitant to try something new and unbranded. Nevertheless, Kwame Baah has been able to stand out among the competition, thanks to its uniquely stylish design, superior craftsmanship, and materials from Ghana.

Studies show that millennials are more inclined to purchase products from companies doing good for society, and that’s exactly the competitive advantage that George is selling.

“Most of our clients are people looking for something new, something stylish. You get a shoe that is well made and very stylish…that you can’t find on any [other] market,” Baah said. “And then you have a great story behind it—that’s our competitive edge.”

More shoes sold means more people helped

Providing a living wage requires selling a lot of shoes, just as generating awareness and growing sales requires a proven business solution to scale growth. Baah chose the end-to-end an e-commerce solution designed for small and midsize businesses to help his company think ahead in terms of future growth.

“Being able to expand and have all these analytical tools and data at my fingertips [is] what drew me to the technology,” Baah said.

Baah has made the most use of his new technology’s data analytics tool. Data collected from social media tracking helps George make more informed decisions on how to reach his audience and generate further awareness in the marketplace.

Baah expects his new business solution to help his company grow, scale, and operate more efficiently. Every penny of additional profit puts more money into the pockets of the artisans.

Another benefit has been the exposure.

“This digital approach will bring more publicity to the company because retailers we work with see that as a sign of credibility,” Baah said. In fact, since signing on, Kwame Baah footwear has been picked up and sold by the brand, Free People, an exclusive, trendy brand very popular among young people.

George’s story is truly an inspiration to all small business owners: a quality product with universal appeal and an even better purpose. Kwame Baah is a leader in meaningful business success.

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Michael Kure

About Michael Kure

Michael Kure is the lead copywriter on the Small and Midsize Businesses team and comes to SAP with 15 years of marketing communications, copywriting, and editorial experience.