Case Study – Macdidan

Macdidan works on Hope and Vision Alley. Like many others, he is a second hand shoe seller. He once studied and worked as a welder, but selling second hand shoes provided him with a more secure monthly income. However, he never gave up his passion for the welding business.

Initially, he stated that he wanted to start a welding workshop. Unfortunately, this was too expensive as just a welding machine far exceeded the loan amount.

Therefore, we focused on how to improve his shoe business. He had a designer friend so we came up with the idea of customized shoes. But the designer friend was very busy and not often in town.

Then we spotted that nobody in the alley was selling safety shoes and from his time in the industry Macdidan knew that there are many mechanics that need safety shoes.

We did some research and went to the speak to mechanics. Most of them weren’t wearing safety shoes. But when we asked why, they said that they couldn’t afford it. They said they could give 500-1000 Ksh for a pair of safety shoes, but for a good pair the price was over 1500 Ksh. The one positive was that they agreed that it was important to protect their feet and that they were willing to pay some money. Sadly, it wasn’t enough money for the business idea.

We moved onto other ideas with little success. All seemed lost. But then one day I was walking down the street and saw a shoe cleaner hitting something metallic thing on the ground, and I thought, “why can’t Macdidan make his own safety shoes?”

We searched the internet for designs and Macdidan said he could make one from from metal. He was very excited and I gave him homework to make a prototype.

But after 2 sessions there was still nothing coming from him and he said he was beaten. I didn’t believe him and asked what the real issue was and after some digging it turned out to be money. So I went away and got some funds and in the next session he showed me his prototype, which was amazing!

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We went to the mechanics again who tried on the shoe and we asked what they thought and 10 out of 10 people liked the idea, and said they would spend 700 to 1000 Ksh on the finished product. We refined the idea some more adding rubber straps with the feedback from customers and it was great after all the despair and effort to invent something new.

I think this story with Macdidan is a good insight into thinking differently and looking at a problem from a different perspective. And also, the story shows the journey of a Balloon Fellow – that there many be many setbacks but the key is to never give up.


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