Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.
GreenSoul Shoes is a social enterprise that aims to shoe 1 million shoeless children in 10 years. We work with artisans from developing nations to produce a 100% up-cycled sandal and for each one that we sell, we donate one to an underprivileged child in the community that made them.
WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"
Whati if, we could shoe all of the world's 300 million underprivileged children by pulling out tires out of landfills that cause mosquitoes to breed and to pass malaria and dengue fever and turn them into shoes that prevents easily avoidable illnesses?
Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
• There are 300 million barefoot children around the world who suffer from puncture wounds;
• There are millions of discarded tire stockpiles in the Third World which breed disease-causing maladies;
• Lack of a brand that resonates deeply with today’s eco-friendly, socially conscious consumer;
• A global community of Third World artisans starved to reach larger markets; and
• A lack of transparency around how companies operate.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
• GreenSoul Shoes has a buy one, give one policy—for every shoe sold, we will give one to a barefoot child that cannot afford them;
• GreenSoul Shoes reduces the tires scrap yards in Third World countries;
• GreenSoul Shoes creates sandals that are 100% recycled and uses no glues or staples. They are unique, durable, have better grip, and last long;
• GreenSoul Shoes uses 100% recycled packaging that also serves as the mailing package;
• GreenSoul Shoes works with local artisans to provide local employment and encourages changes to these communities and provides them with an online vehicle to empower them; and
• GreenSoul Shoes creates a brand that empowers consumers to align their social values with their product purchases.
1st place: Fordham Business Plan Comp.; 1st Place Brooklyn Business Plan Comp.; 2nd Place Queens Business Plan Comp.; 3rd Place Green Business Comp. Runner-up Forbes Boost Business Competition; Runner-up MIT Elevator Pitch Comp.
Impact: How does it Work
Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
When working with artisans that produce our shoes, we look for three elements: 1. Underprivileged children in the community; 2. skilled artisans; and 3. landfill with discarded tires. Discarded tires in third-world communities creates an environment that breeds illness-carrying mosquitoes. We reduce tires by using tires as the raw material to produce sandals.
In our artisan's communities we have learned that children cannot go to school unless they have shoes. This requirement creates a cycle of poverty because the uneducated tend to stay and work in the landfill. We alleviate this by donating one sandal to the community that made our sandal for each one that we sell.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.
To date, we have donated many thousands of sandals. For each tire that we pull out of a landfill, we can create 6-8 pairs of sandals. Therefore, we have pulled several thousand tires out of landfills and tire scrapyards, thereby reducing the environment where malaria and dengue fever carrying mosquitoes breed.
Furthermore, we have given shoes to children, which in addition to preventing easily avoidable puncture wounds and the diseases that come along with this also allows children to attend school to break the cycle of poverty by helping to provide them with education.
Lastly, we have provided an online marketplace for artisans. One of our longest artisans, has employed 8 members of his family to keep up with production. He now sells more in a single day with us than he sold in two years before GreenSoul Shoes. He told us that GreenSoul Shoes has given his family hope.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?
We are currently changing our marketing strategy. Rather than selling to consumers through retail, we have decided to sell directly to organizations that use our sandals as a fundraising tool. We are currently developing an easy-to-use app that we plan to release to little league teams, soccer clubs, computer clubs, chess teams, church groups, and any other organization that needs to fundraise. We currently have obtained a database of 10 million sales from these organizations that resulted in $100 million in sales.
Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?
We are a triple bottom line company, in that we help people (donating sandals), the planet (pulling tires out of landfills) and for profit. For each pair of sandals that we sell, our profit margins are greater than 50% even after the donation sandal. The more sandals that we sell, the more financially sustainable we become.
Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
Toms Shoes has a buy one, give one model. Our approach differs in the communities that we each serve. Toms shoes are made in China and donated to communities around the world. This creates a problem when donating sandals, as it puts shoemakers in those communities out of business. Furthermore, Toms makes a cotton espadrille, which by their own admission lasts 2-3 months in a 3rd world country. So after three months, the children do not have shoes and the community lacks shoemakers. Our solution is more complete in that we champion our artisans to make durable lifetime-guaranteed sandals.
I visited a place in the Philippines called ‘Smokey Mountain,’ a shantytown built on a garbage dump. The first thing that struck me was a huge columns of rubber tires, I saw dozens of shoeless kids kicking around an old ball with bare feet. One child stepped on a rusty circuit board and cut his foot. I immediately went to a local department store, where I bought and donated dozens of shoes. On the way back, I noticed a number of people wearing rubber tire shoes. The opportunity to clean up the world, shoe shoeless children, and connect two stakeholders in the same community was one I could not resist.
Alastair Onglingswan is a serial entrepreneur, having successfully created, financed and launched two online technology companies. Before starting these ventures, Alastair was an attorney specializing in structured finance at Brown & Wood, LLP and a litigation associate at Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman and Dicker. He holds a J.D. degree from Fordham University, School of Law and a B.A. degree from Trinity College at the University of Toronto
Stephen Chen is an investment banker at Oppenheimer of North America. He was formerly a Vice President at JP Morgan and Bear Stearns. In 2010, he did a lecture series at Queens College and is a member of the International Association of Financial Engineers.
Stephen is a judge for the Queens Business Plan Competition and a mentor for the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Brown University.
Iris Chau is a recreational shoemaker and shoe connoisseur in New York. She is a former Vice President of Equity Research technology at JPMorgan Chase, where for the past eleven years she implemented enterprise wide systems to support the financial business. She is a board member of the Asian Women Leadership Network and volunteers for APEX and The Guiding Eye for the Blind organization. She holds a degree in Computer Science from City University of New York-Queens College and completed the Executive IT Management program at Columbia University.
Emily Putterman Handler (Board Advisor) teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute, Hunter College, and has a Shoemaking program at the JCC in Manhattan. Emily graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Cordwainer’s Technical College in England, and has been teaching the cobbling art for 21 years.
BJ Handal (Board Advisor) has 30 years experience in the import footwear industry as a senior manager and owner. Worked closely with major US retailers on the sales, production and delivery of their orders. Developed and maintained supplier networks in Asia. Currently the Director of NA Alliances for Free2move, a company Swedish company developing wireless solutions.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]
Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.
Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]
Advocate/Organizer, Brand Representative, Corporate Staff, Designer, Technologist, Other [please specify].
Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]
Brands, Children, Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Factory Workers, Factory Owners, Supplier - contractor, Supplier - subcontractor, Technologists, Women, Youth.
Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.
Advocacy, Capacity Building, Certification, Organizing, Media, Standards, Training, Technology.
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?
A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.
Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?
Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.
Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?
If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?
● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?
We hope that selling each member of our target organization will become a soldier championing social benefit.
● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?
We have worked with the public-private division of the U.N. and many organizations to help us source a donation candidate.