Recycle market: trade in second-hand shoes, a profitable business

• Feeding hundreds of people

• The shoes come from European countries

• About 200,000 FCFA turnover per month

“The people of Burkina are generally interested in second-hand items because they are cheaper and of good quality,” says Bernard Ilboudo, shoe seller at the shoe market behind the Maison du Peuple. (Ph. Yvan Sama).

According to the French dictionary, the thrift store can be defined as any clothing and objects that have been used by other people. These include clothing, handbags, shoes and even home appliances. The thrift shop has been booming in the Burkinabè market in recent years. It is popular with users. The clothes are commonly referred to as “yougou yougou” and the objects “goodbye France”. L’Economiste du Faso was specifically interested in the second-hand shoe market segment, which even overshadows the sale of new shoes. Second-hand shoe sellers can be found all over Ouagadougou, especially in the markets, along the roads or on the street. What are these shoes from? Is the company profitable? To answer these questions, L’Economiste du Faso immersed itself in this market in Ouagadougou.

Where do recycled shoes come from?
Boukari Ouédraogo is a second-hand shoe seller on the edge of the Boulevard France-Afrique, not far from the Patte d’Oie roundabout. It specializes in the sale of second-hand shoes for children. He tells about the origin of his merchandise. “I’ve been doing this job for two years now. I pick up my goods from a wholesaler in Ouagadougou. The latter imports shoes from Lomé (Togo). They come from Europe, especially from France,” confided Mr. Ilboudo. He takes a bale of shoes from the wholesaler for the price of 40,000 FCFA, 60,000 FCFA or 75,000 FCFA. The ball can count between 1,000 and 1,500 shoes that it sells between 500 FCFA and 1,000 FCFA per pair of shoes. Bernard Ilboudo has a career spanning 15 years in this field. He evolves in the sale of new shoes and second-hand clothing. It mainly sells shoes for adults. It is installed in the shoe market behind the Maison du Peuple, on rue Traoré Diongolo. For him, the second-hand shoes that are on the Burkinabè market, for the most part, come from countries such as Italy, France and other European countries. In coastal countries such as Togo and Ghana, traders are going to stock up, he says. According to Mr. Ilboudo, other wealthy traders often import their goods directly from European countries by air. However, the price of the product is more expensive.
An activity that creates jobs
According to Bernard Ilboudo, thrift shoes have no fixed price. The price depends on the quality and condition of the shoe. For him, the population is generally interested in second-hand items, because they are cheaper and of good quality. If the market is right, he continues, I can sell 5 shoes a day. Often it is possible to make a turnover of 100,000 FCFA to 200,000 FCFA in the month. But since the country has been going through this security crisis, the market has been bleak.
This activity creates jobs. There are about 200 shops in the shoe market alone. according to mr. Ilboudo “there are more than 200 shops selling shoes (new and/or second-hand) on the market. There are about 3 people working in each store”.

Boukari Ouédraogo, seller of second-hand shoes for children. (Ph. Yvan Sama).

Boukari Ouédraogo also complains about the difficult situation that most traders in the country are going through. He used to be able to make good sales. But now it’s getting more complicated. “In the past, I could have 200,000 FCFA to 250,000 FCFA in turnover in the month, especially as the holidays approached. I could sell an average of 50 shoes a day. I don’t sell cheap. The price is between 500 FCFA and 1,000 FCFA, just the pair of shoes,” he recalls.
The two traders noted the difficulties they face in practicing this profession. Bernard Ilboudo thinks the customs duties are high. For him they don’t let small traders like him around. He calls on the authorities to introduce support mechanisms for small traders by reviewing customs duties on imports.
Boukari Ouédraogo, he often quarrels with the police because of the location of his company (on the edge of the railway). He accuses him of illegally occupying public space.
Issouf TAPSOBA (employee)


Focus on the shoe market in Burkina

According to, 99% of the shoe demand in the country is met by imports from Asia and Europe. This is explained by the lack of a shoe industry in Burkina. However, there are artisans and socio-professional centers who make shoes by hand, using semi-mechanized facilities. Footwear imports increased from 3.72 billion FCFA in 2008 to 5.03 billion FCFA in 2017, an increase of 35.21%.

Edition number: 437

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