Ethiopian Women Tradition Chapels

The East African nation is ramping up sourcing capabilities, positioning the region (includes neighboring Kenya) as an up-and-coming hub for footwear manufacturing.

Low-cost labor pool? Check. Abundant raw materials? Check. Low electricity costs? Check. Shorter lead times to the United States market? Check. Lower minimums? Check. Heavy investment in infrastructure and factory capabilities? Check. Duty-free pricing? Check.

What’s not to like when it comes to sourcing shoes out of Ethiopia and neighboring Kenya? Making the region even more attractive is the ongoing seismic shift in footwear production worldwide. Newsflash: China is no longer the end-all, be-all sourcing partner, and the shift is happening at warp speed.

Manufacturers and private label retailers have little choice but to adapt on the fly and find new reliable factory partners that can deliver quality merchandise consistently and, perhaps most importantly, quicker. Lead times are getting shorter. Trends move far too fast today for brands and retailers to bank on them sticking around for months.

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