Because International believes that everyone deserves a shot. Their mission is to use the powerful cycle of innovation to fight against the negative cycle of poverty. With their initiative, “The Shoe That Grows,” they are providing sustaining solutions to the challenges of poverty.
It all started when our founder Kenton Lee was living at a small orphanage in Kenya in 2007. He saw a little girl who had outgrown her shoes and had to cut off the front to let her toes stick out. Kenton had the idea for a shoe that can grow. It took he and his friends six years, but they finally did it. They created a shoe that could grow five sizes and last for years.
What was always meant to be a hobby accidentally went viral in 2015 and everything changed. Since then, Because International has worked with over 800 partners to distribute over 120,000 pairs of The Shoe That Grows to kids in 90 countries. The eight-person team works from their headquarters in Nampa, Idaho.
It is more than just focusing on innovative products, the organization is committed to supporting the people behind the innovation. They commit to manufacturing their products in the areas where they are being used the most; and soon, they are launching a new Innovation Pursuit program where they come alongside entrepreneurs and support them with mentoring, training and funding.
We love the passion of our friends and supporters from around the USA and the world. And we do everything under the banner of our core belief of ‘the power of small things.’
Because International wants to make things better by making better things, and their mission is to leverage innovation to make things better for those living in impoverished communities in three ways. First, they create products that help kids. Second, they use the production to bring jobs to areas where the products are used the most. Third, they come alongside entrepreneurs around the world to help them pursue their own innovative ideas.
Their first project, The Shoe That Grows, is a good example of what they are all about. These shoes can grow five sizes and last for years. They partner with groups like churches, organizations, Rotary clubs and more to get these shoes to kids who desperately need them. They fundraise to purchase the shoes – which helps with cash flow and revenue to make more shoes. And they are currently producing the shoes at a great local factory in Ethiopia, which brought over 30 jobs in 2017. They have plans to manufacture in Haiti and Kenya in 2018.
We fiercely believe that there are more ideas like The Shoe That Grows out there just waiting to be put in a position to succeed. We hope that our mentoring, training and funding can turn those ideas for great products into a reality.
“After going viral in 2015, Because International attended the [SEA] Summit in Denver that year because we knew we needed to start to get into the social enterprise space. Our team came away from the Summit feeling inspired (and overwhelmed!). But then life and work got the best of us. We didn’t connect with SEA again until late 2017 when we saw their booth at an event. Now we are in a much better position to maximize the opportunity to be a member with SEA. We applied to be in the mentor program. We love the online resources they provide. And we are so excited to dig deep into the social enterprise space so that we can continually improve our organization.” — Kenton Lee, Founder
To learn more about Because International, check out their member directory profile.