Financial Challenges Holdback Horseman Shoes' Expansion

Indigenous shoe manufacturer, Horseman Shoes, said it is unable to meet the increasing demand for its products due to lack of finance to invest into the acquisition of hi-tech equipment that would raise output to meet the various requests. Its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Tonyi Senaya, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on April 4 that attempts to seek financial support from the banks had so far proved futile, mainly, as a result of the tender nature of the business. "We have been in business for only four years and access to finance has been a bit tough. So far, we have not got the requisite investment to put into the business to move it to the next level so we have been operating on a very small scale and growing organically," Mr Senaya said in an interview shortly after the company opened its first sales outlet in Accra. The outlet, which is on the Stanfas Street in Kokomlemle, Accra, would make it possible for potential customers to first try the company's shoes prior to buying and/or putting up orders. It was opened by the Minister in charge of Private Public Partnerships (PPP) at the Presidency, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, together with the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Nii Lantey Vanderpuiye, and other politicians and captains of industry. Among them was Nana Akomea of the New Patriotic Party; Capt. Kofi Amoabeng of UT Bank; Mr James Asare-Adjei, President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and CEO of Asadtek Group; Mr Kweku Beddu-Addo, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank; and Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, CEO of AGI. Track record Horseman Shoes shot to fame recently when President John Mahama announced in his State of the Nation Address that he was wearing the company's brand of shoes. The announcement intensified public interest in the company which was founded some four years ago and its brand of footwear. The President's endorsement of the brand added to numerous honours that the company had won in its short lifespan. Horseman Shoes won the Global Professional Achievers Young Entrepreneurs Award in 2011, the UT-Enablis Business Launch Pad Competition, among others. These honours were in spite of the fact that the company operated from without a single store or sales outlet due to lack of finance to set up one. Its CEO was, however, confident that the track record the brand had chalked up over the years would make financial institutions have confidence in it. "At that level, our structures were not that right and the banks did not have that confidence to support us but with the track record that Horseman has now, I think that we may be ripe to access finance from the banks," he said. On the amount of investment the company required, he said "we are looking between the region of GH¢400,000 and GH¢500,000. That is about three land cruisers," he said, chuckling. Selling through social media Prior to the opening of the sales outlet on April 4, its CEO said the Horseman relied on requests from its social media sites and telephone calls to manufacture the shoes for customers. That strategy, he admitted, came with some challenges. "We weren't able to reach out to all the people except those who knew how to contact us. Also, some people wanted to first have a feel of our shoes before purchasing because, to them, the shoes looked too good to be real," he said. He was, thus, hopeful that the opening of the retail shop would help minimise such challenges, while increasing the customer base of the company. Mr Senaya said the company would aim at opening more outlets in the country, as well as working towards expanding into the sub-region and the continent "where Horseman will be the preferred brand of footwear by people who are conscious of the shoes they wear."