MARKHOR (previously Hometown)

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MARKHOR (previously Hometown): men leather shoes & accessories brand

Lahore, PakistanOkara, Pakistan
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Markhor makes handmade leather footwear and bespoke accessories for the modern gentleman by working with craftsmen in rural areas of Pakistan.

Our team works with international and local designers to create really high end and modern designs and then sell through our awesome website globally.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

the customers in developed markets are directed connect with the artisans/makers who make their products.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In the small towns of Pakistan, there're over 3 millions craftsmen making handicraft for centuries. Most of them work in form of small units. But over the past two decades these people are losing their businesses mainly because of industrialization, decline of demand in local market and limited resources. Therefore most of them are compelled to work for big brands, which ends up making most of money. Which leaves very little for the craftsmen.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Markhor is bridging the gap that exists between fashion forward customers and the craftsmen. We accomplish this by carefully selecting local artisans, providing them the finest leather, design resources and tools to create premium quality footwear and accessories. We also collaborate with international designers and consultants who’ve vast experience of working with leading upscales brands to help our team and artisans make and deliver competitive products at less than half of the market price. Internet and globalization has provided us means to reach and communicate effectively with our customers. By connecting our artisans with global market, and investing in their capacity building we bring them a fair value of their work.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The craftsmen who were compelled to work with greedy brands, now have a choice. When they work with Markhor, we pay them in time, invest in their capacity building by buying tools and giving them training to advance their skills. For us, it is also very important to value their dignity. Our team is also working to invest in the education of their children and nutrition for the families. Since we started working with the craftsmen, they are also now treated nicely by the other businesses they work with. Because now they have an existing model which works best for them and they can refer others to.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

By bringing more business to the craftsmen, we are directly impacting their economic state. This year we plan to increase the income of the craftsmen we are working with by 3x. We are already working with 62 craftsmen in two units, we hope to raise this number to 150 this year. We are also starting the formal training sessions for craftsmen to improve the quality of products which will result into improving their wages and salaries. We are firm believer of educating children and against child labor. To fix this, we are launching a small academy by the mid of this year where the children will be provided tuition. At a later stage we might provide monthly stipend to craftsmen with school going children. In the 2015 we hope to work with 500 craftsmen, and it'll be growing at the rate of 3x/year.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our ultimate goal is the change the way craftsmen in developing countries work with leading brands in Europe and US market. We shall achieve this by first focusing in just Pakistan, replicating our model in other areas of the country making a web of these small units, and expanding to other lifestyle products like clothes for both men and women, jewellery, sports goods and furniture etc. Then moving toward other geographic region, starting with India or Bangladesh. Our vision is to change the way people look at "Made in Pakistan" or "Made in India."
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Given the nature of our business, we require budget for raw materials, manufacturing and on training our artisans. But once we scale our operations it'll be financial sustainable from the revenue we'll make by selling our shoes Back in 2012, we secured a grant of 10,000 USD at the Pasha Social Innovation Fund, and also invested our own 18000 USD. We haven't raised any other money to the date.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are a handful of affordable luxury brands providing high quality footwear and accessories with an ethical supply chain model. Our direct and indirect competitors includes TOMS, Nisolo, Allen Edmonds, Bonobos, and online only brands like Everlane and Awl & Sundry. Our focus on building an ethical business and easier access to craftsmen and raw material sets us apart from our competition. In marketing we have strong edge of unique brand story, which already has worked for us getting customers without spending on advertising and we believe in pairing it with superb customer service.
Team

Founding Story

Back in 2010, Waqas met with group of craftsmen in a local counsel of his village. He learned about the beautiful handmade shoes they were making, but everything wasn't going well. Their business was getting down because of limited resources, decline of demand in local market and having no means to reach their customers directly. In 2011 Waqas and the co-founder Sidra Qasim (after leaving their first startup) decided to help those craftsmen and to build a sustainable business. The idea was to build an online store and to sell at international market. We outsourced high quality leather and our craftsmen made highly comfortable and lightweight shoes in 4 months. We launched in 2012 and within 6 month, were selling shoes in 12 countries.

Team

Before Markhor, Waqas and Sidra ran a digital media agency which helped small business and non-profit use internet to grow sales and impact. Now Waqas works primarily on biz-dev, marketing while Sidra focuses on operations, working with craftsmen, warehousing and customer service. As a full time leather designer we have Noor who is behind all the cool designs we bring, we also have a part time UX / designer, an ex-Googler.