Navalayo Osembo, 34

Founder and CEO

ENDA Athletic Inc

In 2014, after finishing her Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK, Navalayo returned to Kenya determined to make a positive social impact.

She was drawn to sports, and because running is what Kenya is known for globally, the question was how to use athletics to create something unique.

While trying to figure out how to create and maximise social impact through sports, she met Weldon Kennedy and together, they established Enda Athletic Inc.

Their company makes performance running shoes, sold in Kenya and the US, and they recently started production of T-shirts as well.

"We are trying what has not been done before in Kenya and it has been quite a learning journey for us..."

“We are trying what has not been done before in Kenya and it has been quite a learning journey for us.

“We spent the first two years of the business working on the prototypes and getting suitable manufacturers to make the products locally,” she says of the running shoes, which the company launched in 2017.

“We have since created jobs and expanded our suppliers’ chains. We have 20 employees who work in production.”

Besides being a certified accountant, Navalayo also studied law for her first degree and later on pursued a Master’s of Science in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies.

The key lesson she has learnt through Enda, she says, is the importance of surrounding herself with people who are knowledgeable in her area of interest; the value of perseverance and the benefits of researching broadly.

When she founded Enda, she ran it as a side job until last year when she decided to go into it full-time.

“I had fear leaving a full time job in legal and accounting, to jump into the murky waters of entrepreneurship. I was working outside the country so it was quite a big move to make,” she says.

To wind down, Navalayo loves to hang out with friends and read books on entrepreneurship.

— Lilys Njeru