Three billion people around the world live on less than $2 a day; 600 million children live in extreme poverty and most of them don’t have enough sanitation, enough clean water, enough clothing, or enough shoes to protect them from the environment they live in. Because International is a nonprofit organization committed to “practical compassion,” innovation, and simple, focused solutions. Their first project is a shoe that can grow.
Because International was started by Kenton Lee. After graduating college from Northwest Nazarene University in 2007, Kenton lived and worked in Ecuador and Kenya for a while. One day he noticed a little girl from an orphanage, who was wearing shoes that were insanely too small for her feet. The orphanage director told Kenton that they receive donations from America, but since the kids continue growing, the shoes do not fit after six months. The only choices they have left are waiting for the next donation, or cutting out the fronts of the old shoes to wear them for as long as possible.
Kenton believed that innovation could provide practical solutions to problems like these, so he founded Because International in 2009 with the mission to help people who live in extreme poverty. His first project was The Shoe That Grows — an adjustable shoe that can grow with the kids and protect them from soil-transmitted diseases. He wanted to create a shoe that companies could still donate, but also that didn’t have to be replaced every year.
With the help of snaps and adjustable straps, The Shoe That Grows can grow in the front, the sides, and the back, adjusting to five different shoe sizes. Thanks to quality materials, such as compressed rubber for the sole, high-quality leather and heavy-duty snaps, it lasts for five years, despite the heavy use.
In January 2014, Kenton’s organization managed to crowdsource enough funds to produce and distribute 1,000 pairs of shoes to kids in Kenya. He is currently fundraising for a second shipment of 5,000 pairs and he has already surpassed his goal of $50,000.
Watch the journey of The Shoe That Grows in the video below:
Photo: Because International