We often forget that standards of what is needed to provide education are very different on our planet. Whereas the developed countries are arguing about whether every child needs an iPad in school to succeed in our competitive society no one of us would consider pen and paper as a minimum requirement anymore. If you take a closer look at the various NGOs that aim to support educational projects in Africa, India or South America you will notice that the access to those things are actually a big issue. How should one learn at home or do their homework without pen and paper?
Taking this a step further, how should one get to school miles away if there is no bus or other means of transportation and if the child does not even have a good pair of shoes? Or what happens if the child has no clear vision and no access to a pair of glasses?
Luckily, there are more and more start-ups which embed social good into the company’s DNA, right from the beginning. The most popular is the “buy one, give one” model best known from TOMS Shoes.
According to TOMS, shoes play a key role in providing opportunities to children in developing countries. If you have to walk barefoot the risk of injuries and therefore infections is very high not to talk of the actual problem of walking miles to the next school or medical center. Shoes can help to protect the health of those children and therefore enhance their chances to succeed in other ways.
A clear vision is another aspect. Similar to getting a pair of shoes, a pair of glasses has an immediate impact on people’s lives. According to TOMS there are over 18 million children on the globe with bad vision and no access to a pair of glasses. But there are of course also bad effects on the family when the father or mother loses the ability to see and therefore to work and earn money.
That’s why Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS came to the conclusion that TOMS should not be a shoe company only but more a “One for One” company and in a first step TOMS Eyewear was launched. There is also Jimmy Fairly in France that offer glasses and shades through the same “buy one give one” model.
Another noticeable start-up in the space is SmartyPants Vitamins which will offer one bottle of SmartPants to a children in need for every bottle purchased. That’s because good nutrition is another key factor in good education, especially at a young age. The brain needs a well balanced diet to work and access to food, especially with the right nutrition is also a huge issue in the developing world.
I believe that start-ups like the three mentioned above can have a true impact on education and I hope that sooner or later big multi-national brands will join the cause.
Picture: TOMS eyewear