Friday, November 8, 2013

How Shoes Can Lead to Better Economies

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that what I really want to do is open my own boutique. While that is very true and is still my goal, it isn't the entire story. I'd like to share with you how I got to that idea and where I would like to be even beyond that if it is at all possible.

I know everyone can attest to the fact that I love clothes, shoes, purses, anything material really. But I'm not all that shallow. I really love helping people too. I always thought I was doing my part when I would give some spare change the the people with jelly beans at stop lights, and adding an extra dollar at the end of my purchases to support breast cancer research, or even buying Tom's shoes since for every pair you buy they give a pair of shoes to people and children in poor countries. 6 months ago I learned that while Tom's is providing people with shoes who desperately need them, they are not solving the problem. 

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Lacy Tom's.

While sitting in my class called Change for the Greater Good, I learned that America and other countries who help poor countries in Africa, for example, are the reason those countries aren't getting any better. While we have the greatest intentions, we are not going about it in the right way. Yes, most African countries were never as industrialized as America, and maybe never will be, but we have made their economies worse by giving away free things, such as Tom's. Now I am in no way saying Tom's is a bad company, nor do I have anything against them (plus I really do like their shoes), I am just saying there is something we can do that would help African countries and poor countries around the world more. The reason giving shoes away to people is not helping their economy is because when people get free shoes, they don't see the need to spend money on shoes. It's very simple, and I think its something we all can relate to. If you're at work and they're handing out free food for lunch, you're going to take the free food, right? And that's exactly it, because these families are getting free shoes, they are no longer buying shoes. So now those shoe makers in those countries lost their jobs because they went out of business. Since everyone is receiving free shoes, there is no reason for them to sell shoes. And it isn't only with shoes, Americans dump old clothes in African countries, so now that they're getting free clothes, the workers who used to make clothes is Africa are out of jobs. And it just continues. By giving poor countries freebies, we are putting those hard works out of their jobs, so they can no longer support their families. What we need to be doing is creating jobs and creating new markets in these countries, because that is what's going to make their economies grow.

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Original Tom's. (Clearly I'm a fan of the shoes)

One of our guest speakers in my class was one of the co-founders of a company called Sanergy. Sanergy is a company in Kenya, Africa that has really been successful at improving their economy. They saw that millions of people in these poorer countries were dying from disease caused by the waste in the streets from the lack of sanitary bathrooms. The Kenyan's would pay to use unhygienic toilets that would flush the waste right back into the river, which is also their drinking water. When these toilets closed for the day they would use what's called "flying toilets" which is when they would go to the bathroom in plastics bags and then throw them outside. Sanergy came up with a business model that included new ways to make money for people in Kenyan villages, and also sanitary bathrooms to help get rid of disease which spread viciously among people and mostly children. The Kenyan's who buy the toilet are the franchises, they then hire people to collect the waste every day and transport it, then the waste is turned into fertilizer which then helps the crops grow in Kenya. It helps Kenya's economy by providing many jobs (in fact they have created 409 jobs), creating a better market, and it created an affordable way for people to use the bathroom without polluting the water or the streets.

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This is what Sanergy's bathrooms look like in Kenya.

And that brings me to my idea...

I love Tom's idea of giving shoes to those who need them. There are many diseases that can are spread because of the lack of shoes and the terrain that they walk bare feet on. However I would like to do it differently than Tom's. I would like to create a factory where people in those countries can get jobs and make shoes that will be affordable to everyone in those countries. I would like to make their market grow, because that is what is truly going to help them. I want to help get rid of disease by designing shoes that will be sturdier and will last them longer, and I want to create jobs for those people so they can help support their families. Now I realize this is not possible in my life right now. But one day I really hope it will be. If I can get my boutique started, I will be saving any profits to make this dream a reality one day. All I really want to do is make a difference for as many people as I can. And that is my main goal in life.

1 comment:

  1. I have bought a number of pair of shoes from Tom's and it is really nice to support a good cause. The donation is not much but a lot better than nothing.