Fortunato Frederico, who in 1984 founded Kyaia, one of the country’s largest footwear businesses, received an award at the latest UITIC Congress for his career in the industry. At the age of 14, he was sweeping factory floors. Today he is one of the most-renowned entrepreneurs in the footwear industry at an international level. “This is a public recognition of a truly inspiring entrepreneur,” says Luís Onofre of Fortunato Frederico. “He demonstrated from an early age an unusual ability to understand our industry, investing in critical areas such as brand creation or R&D, with a strong link to universities,” recalled the President of APICCAPS. At the age of 80, Fortunato Frederico is still dreaming. A dream that began in Angola, during his military service and resulted in the creation of Kyaia in 1984, which would grow to become the largest Portuguese footwear group, with factories in Guimarães and Paredes de Coura, and which continues to make a name for itself on foreign markets.
Fortunato Frederico shows no signs of slowing down. He recently renewed his ambition to make Fly London the number-one brand in Portugal. The group’s brands, Fly London and Softinos, are currently marketed in over 50 countries. The same path is being followed by AsPortuguesas, an innovative and sustainable project that was born from a partnership with the company Corticeira Amorim and entrepreneur Pedro Abrantes. Innovation is in Fortunato Frederico’s DNA. This spirit led him to become the forerunner in a peculiar process of relocation. Instead of opting for a distant foreign country, with abundant and cheap labour, he chose to relocate to the interior of Portugal, creating hundreds of jobs in Paredes de Coura. More recently, after being one of the first national brands to enter the metaverse in the first semester of last year, with four mini-games and a store on the Roblox platform, Fly London is surprising once again with a new promotional campaign developed using artificial intelligence (AI). At the association level, he was also President of APICCAPS for 18 years, during a period of strong competitive development for the Portuguese footwear industry on international markets.
In addition, Frederico led the European Footwear Confederation (CEC) for six years. His contribution to society is also undeniable, with emphasis on the creation of the Oliveira Frederico Foundation, which aims to “carry out, promote, support and sponsor actions to combat bipolar disorder”. Previously known as manic-depression, it is a psychiatric illness characterised by marked mood swings and repeated bouts of depression.