In 2018, Rwandan launched the ‘Made-In-Rwanda’ initiative to boost the production and consumption of local products. A number of local and international entrepreneurs responded to the initiative to open local industries and companies.
One of such persons is Allen Simms, who took his sporting venture to Rwanda. The African American is the founder of Impano Sports, a company that provides African-inspired quality sports apparel designed specifically for athletes, runners, and the active lifestyle community.
Although Simms took advantage of the Rwandan government’s Made-In-Rwanda policy, his venture started when he traveled to the East African country to identify and coach young talented athletes. While in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, he noticed that many of the athletes had limited access to quality sportswear and that was how Impano Sports was founded.
Simms is a former track and field athlete. He competed for Puerto Rico in 2007 after switching allegiance from the United States in 2005 before changing back in 2008. He emerged as the national champion in 2007 and was ranked 15th in the world. In 2004, he was the champion in the triple jump of the USA Indoor Champion. Also, he finished fourth at the 2003 Pan American Games and eighth in the long jump at the 2007 Pan American Games.
He was an athlete at the University of Southern California and a coach at Cornell University. “There at Cornell I was training a bunch of spoiled kids and I wanted to make an impact with my coaching so let’s see what’s going on in Africa,” he said in a Shoppe Black interview.
Simms aims to empower Africans to be independent and bring out their creative juices. Part of his agenda is to encourage the youth to discard the second-hand ideology. It is a known fact that across Africa, there is a high demand for second-hand clothing from Europe and other developed nations. To try to reverse this, Simms produces quality sportswear for the local and international market.
The former athlete recently praised the Rwandan government’s effort to develop the fashion industry. “They make it very comfortable to live here as a foreigner. They have a nice system in place to set up a business,” he said.
Simms obtained his bachelor’s degree in multimedia technology from the University of South California in 2005 and a Master of Art in Liberal Studies and a graduate certificate in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 2014. Also, he holds IAAF and USATF coaching certificates in athletes majoring in jumping events.