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Entrepreneurs for Change: Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes Gives Away Millions of Shoes

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How TOMS Shoes is Solving Footwear for the Extremely Poor

If you’ve had shoes on your feet your whole life, you may have never experienced the challenges of living without them. Without shoes, children are more prone to injury and disease – especially diseases transmitted through soil. Cuts and scrapes can develop into serious infections, some of which are life threatening. The social entrepreneurs from TOMS shoes have got a solution through its buy one give one program.

Without shoes, children are often hindered from receiving an education. After all, it’s difficult to walk to school if you face injury and pain. As a result, those children with shoes tend to be healthier and experience more success in school.

For all of these reasons and more TOMS Shoes is working to bring good quality shoes to some of the poorest communities in the world. Their One for One program was one of the first launched by a social enterprise. It works by donating one pair of shoes to deserving communities for every pair of shoes purchased. In 2010 alone, TOMS gave over 1 million pair of shoes to children around the world.

TOMS is careful to select communities and individuals who truly cannot afford to purchase their own shoes. They seek out communities that will benefit most from TOMS shoes due to health, economic, and educational needs. They are also careful to work in communities where they will not harm local businesses that are in the shoe retail business. The company even returns to the same community throughout the years to ensure children have shoes that will fit them as they grow, and has launched a new website for gifts that give back.

About this Entrepreneur for a Change

TOMS Shoes was founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2007 and has been instrumental in expanding the concept of buy one get one in other social enterprises around the world. His vision developed after witnessing the hardships of children facing extreme poverty in Argentina. One year after returning to his home in the US, Blake went back to hand-place 10,000 pairs of shoes for children.

Blake has received many awards, including the People’s Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum as well as the Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) from the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Blake is a serial entrepreneur and adventure seeker. He even competed on the Amazing Race where he and his sister came within minutes of claiming the $1 million prize.


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Chief Evolutionary Officer at Entrepreneurs for a Change
Lorna Li is a business coach, entrepreneur and Amazon rainforest crusader, with a passion for green business, social enterprise, and indigenous wisdom. She helps changemaking entrepreneurs harness the power of the Internet to reach more people and make a bigger impact, while designing the lifestyle of their dreams. She is an Internet marketing consultant to changemakers, and works with innovative tech startups, sustainable brands, social enterprises & B-Corporations on SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing.
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