Genius Nonprofit Makes Shoes that Grow Along With the Kids that Wear Them
Volunteering at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007, recent college graduate Kenton Lee noticed a little girl wearing shoes that she had long outgrown.
The image stayed with Lee and sparked a simple, yet game-changing idea: a shoe that grows with its owner.
Returning to the U.S., Lee assembled a team to translate his idea into an actual, working shoe and founded Because International, a non-profit operating on the principle of practical compassion – helping disadvantaged people and communities in directly practical ways.
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from soil-transmitted diseases, with lack of footwear a major factor. In fact, around 300 million children worldwide don’t have shoes at all, with millions more forced to wear shoes that don’t fit.
But after years of research and experimentation, Lee and his team shipped the first batch of The Shoe That Grows in 2014.
Since that first shipment, Because International has provided 127,340 pairs to children in more than 90 countries worldwide. And the $15 shoes are making a huge impact – created from durable materials and adjustable across five different sizes, the shoes offer a safe and comfortable options to thousands of children in need.
Headquartered in Nampa, Idaho, Because International has opened manufacturing sites in Ethiopia, Haiti and Kenya, creating dozens of much-needed jobs locally. The Ethiopian site alone provides 30 local jobs. With massive demand, and the help of donors, a new manufacturing site is planned to open in India.
Production and distribution is made possible by the generosity of donors – both private and corporate – , and through partnerships with other nonprofits.
Those looking to help children go to school, help their families and communities, and very importantly, play, can fund shipments of varying sizes, pay for one “filler” pair for an incomplete package, or help with distribution by carrying shipments to communities in need as part of an existing outreach mission.