Meet Cheikh Mbacke Thiam: The Senegalese man using home materials to make Afro-style sneakers

Cheikh Mbacke Thiam is a Senegalese entrepreneur and innovator. He is famous and known for his handmade local Afro-style sneakers made from household materials.

Cheikh Mbacke Thiam began studying fashion at an early age and was exposed to shoemaking by his brother. Cheikh began his profession by manufacturing shoes for children, which he finally fell in love with. He didn’t like the job at first, but his drive grew when people stopped him on the street to buy the shoes that he was wearing. He says, “ On the day I had someone stop me on the street and asked me for the price and bought them directly. He asked me to take them off and give them to him there. There I knew what I made was valuable.”

Cheikh Mbacke is famous in his community in Dakar where many people call him “Cheikh  Dall  (shoes in the Wolof language)”. His ambition is to transform this identity into opportunities, such as raising its boots to the level of major international brands.

Give fabric to Cheikh, he turns it into a shoe! Nothing is a secret for him in its manufacture. He is a designer, former, model maker and cutter all at the same time. As a “system D” specialist, he also stitches, shapes, soles and pampers to ultimately produce shoes, boots, espadrilles or other sandals.

Afro-style sneakers made by Mbacke. Image credit: APANEWS

Cheikh can make shoes and accessories out of any fabric that falls into his hands. Cheikh is a proud African who enjoys displaying his heritage via his artwork. “I style my shoes to carry a unique African identity so as to differentiate them from those made outside.”

“My dream is to grow big and be competitive in the global market for shoes” he stated. Creative people like Cheikh need investment from private investors and support from government institutions to help them venture into large-scale productions. Africa has a purchasing power of trillion of dollars with a huge market population, so it’s just right we start supporting our businesses for GDP growth and job creation.

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