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.
As a child, the cost of buying a pair of shoes was too expensive for Baah’s family. 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 U.S.
Designed to Alleviate Poverty
Baah designs the footwear at the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, Kwame Baah, but the footwear products are handcrafted by his employees back in Ghana – mainly Baah’s siblings, mother, and some hometown neighbors. Handcrafting these signature shoes enables all of them 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 family and even other townsfolk 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 unwilling 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.
Recent 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 great deal of shoes, just as generating awareness and growing sales requires a proven business solution to scale growth. Baah chose the end-to-end SAP Anywhere e-commerce solution 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 SAP,” Baah said.
Baah has made the most use of SAP Anywhere’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 is also looking forward to using the array of SAP Anywhere features that he has not yet tried, but are available to him.
Baah expects SAP Anywhere 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.
“Working with SAP Anywhere 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 with SAP Anywhere, 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.