Impano is here to destroy the notion that Africa cannot produce quality or do for self; Africa can and will.
If you have been struggling to find stylish affordable active wear, look no further we got you covered. Impano Sports Wear is a fashion forward innovative sports wear company whose clothes are locally produced in Kigali, Rwanda. The company was founded by Allen Simms; a former American jumper who was a national champion in the triple jump in 2007 and ranked 15th in the world.
After a visit to Kigali where he focused his efforts on identifying and coaching young athletes, he realised they were limited to quality sportswear and decided to help them create their own sportswear for training. As you will see, he also started a non profit organisation which nurtures sports talent in Rwanda. We had a chat with him to learn more about the company and its humanitarian work which we absolutely love.
TIZI: What does the word 'Impano' mean?
IS: Impano is derived from Kinyarwanda (official Rwandan language) which means a special talent or a special gift.
TIZI: What made you focus on active wear and not any other element in fitness?
IS: The active wear manufacturing business is untapped in Africa where 95% of sportswear garment on the continent are imported second hand. The second hand clothing or 'fake brand' market is actually destroying the value of the industry on the continent. Impano is here to destroy the notion that Africa cannot produce quality or do for self; Africa can and will. There is fear of taking the risk.
...Having been a sports person for most of my life, I usually dress in athletic wear and I understood I could take that risk and change the mentality of producing active wear in Africa. Being able to provide clothing and shoes for the non profit project was the other main reason.
TIZI: What inspires your designs?
IS: Sports and Fitness are a big inspiration. Creating something people can feel free to perform any kind of movment in without being restricted and without sacrificing comfort while feeling confident in how they look. In addition the designs are inspired from living in Africa; the different prints, preferences of people we encounter everyday and so much more. Most of all we try to design and tailor our apparel for the African body shape.
TIZI: Tell us about your charity and how it is tied to Impano.
IS: Impano Academy Rwanda Inc is a non-profit amateur sports organization established in 2016 based in Kigali, designed to promote the sport of track and field by offering professional sports coaching, guidance, and education to Rwandan children in underdeveloped communities. Impano Academy travels across the country, carefully testing prospective student-athletes in collaboration with local clubs, teams, and national federations. We train local coaches to identify talent, select the best sporting youth, and develop them into future champions.
...We offer sports camps and clinics for all athletes to learn from the best coaches and encourage participation in sports. We believe in the potential of sports as it plays a key role in personal, community, national and international development objectives. One of the many needs they have is access to suitable sportswear. The brand will be able to provide that for them, Impano Sports Wear will be able to fund the non-profit programs and youth athletes to develop in their sport.
TIZI: What are the future plans for Impano?
IS: The plan is to make Impano the number one sportswear brand made in Africa, providing clothes both for active individuals, professional athletes and teams. Impano wants to show the world we can compete with a product made 100% in Africa by Africans. We have setup our growth in phases. We plan to increase local production by 50% by 2020 and open stores in Nairobi and Addis Ababa.
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