My name is Ire Oyekan and I am a student at the Technical University of Delft, studying Industrial Design Engineering (IDE). For my graduation project I have set up a project in collaboration with the Dutch organization Yep! Africa. Yep!Africa is a social enterprise specialized in providing empowerment & entrepreneurship trainings to Gambian youths.
Due to the lack of job opportunities and limited education in the Gambia, many youths are either unemployed, or forced to do undesirable, physically straining work to feed themselves and their families. Due to gender bias and societal expectations, women are often forced to give up their dreams of a better future.
This I why the main goal of my project is to empower young Gambian women to set up their own business in order to become financially independent. I plan to do this by designing ergonomic footwear made from cheap or easily obtainable materials, which can be produced and sold by these women.
At the base of pyramid in the Gambia there is a lack of ergonomic footwear. Many Gambians can only afford low quality, imported footwear (mostly slippers). These products do not provide a healthy support resulting in bad posture for the user. Because of their bad quality these slippers also create an incredible amount of pollution. This is why I will be designing quality sandals that provide a monetary and health-related advantage compared to available alternatives in the Gambia. By making the design easy and cheap to produce I hope to alleviate the need for expensive investments or loans and make the threshold to start a business much lower for young Gambian women.