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p.8. Making a Difference With a Pair of Shoes
p.5. Happening on Planet Gems
How an Idaho Nonprofit Is Making a World of Difference
A lot of us take our shoes for granted. Most of us have at least one pair of shoes, and many have multiple pairs. Even if we need a new pair, we can easily run to the shoe store or order them online in just a few clicks. It’s all so easy that we don’t even think about just how amazing our shoes, or the process of buying them, really is. Shoes themselves are remarkable. They protect our feet and allow us to safely traverse lots of different types of terrain, whether that’s walking to the office or going for a hike. We put them on in the morning and we take them off at the end of the day. Simple. And while shoes are an often-overlooked boon in the U.S., many people can’t afford to buy shoes when they need a new pair — and they simply go without. This is how the story of The Shoe That Grows started. In 2007, the founder of The Shoe That Grows, Kenton Lee, was in Nairobi, Kenya. There, he observed a child wearing shoes much smaller than her feet. She had cut open the ends of her shoes so her toes could stick out. This experience inspired Lee to develop a shoe that could grow with the child — hence the name. Kenton returned home to Nampa, Idaho, and set to work. He, along with some friends, tried to figure out how they could solve this shoe problem and do it in a way that made sense. It took about six years to develop a working solution. That solution was a durable shoe that can expand up to five sizes and has an exceptional life span.
As part of the development of The Shoe That Grows, Kenton and his team also established a nonprofit organization called Because International (BecauseInternational. org). This organization was created to put as many shoes on as many kids as possible all around the world. Their work didn’t stop with The Shoe That Grows. They also developed a product called the Bednet Buddy, a portable bed net kids can sleep under and not worry about mosquitoes, which often carry life- threatening diseases like malaria. Young children are highly susceptible to malaria, which can cause serious illness and death. Bed nets, like the Bednet Buddy, are remarkably effective tools at combating malarial infections. For the people of Because International, it’s more than just providing the shoes or netting to children around the world — it’s also about giving impoverished communities job opportunities. They manufacture their products in regions where those products are used the most, namely Ethiopia and Uganda. In 2020, they are looking to expand into Haiti and Kenya. They also pay their employees a livable wage — something in short supply in these regions. The accessibility of the shoes is also reflected in their price. Every pair of shoes is $20, which is far lower than the average price of a pair of shoes in the U.S. (In 2018, the average price of shoes was $75). When you buy a pair of shoes (or several pairs) as a donation, those shoes are then delivered
to people who need them. You can also partner with the organization directly to help fundraise and distribute shoes to areas they might not otherwise reach. Interestingly enough, because their mission is to get shoes to those who need them, they do not sell the shoes to consumers directly, at least not through the Because International website. You can, however, buy the shoes for personal use from a separate company called GroFive (GroFive.com). Part of the revenue from GroFive is donated back to Because International to further their mission. In a few short years, Because International and The Shoe That Grows have made a remarkable impact. Thanks to incredible support the world over, they’ve been able to get shoes to thousands of children that will last them for years to come. They don’t have to worry about outgrowing them, at least not for quite some time. In a world of poverty, having one less thing to worry about can make a huge difference. It changes a person’s entire outlook and can potentially change their lives for the better. In communities where prosperity is limited, this kind of impact can be monumental — and it all comes back to something as simple as a pair of shoes.
InsidersCircle.com | 1-888-880-GEMS (4367)
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