Most people have heard of TOMS shoe company, or even own a pair of TOMS themselves. The shoes are comfortable and casual as well as fashionably cute for everyday wear. In addition, for every pair of shoes purchased from TOMS, another pair is given away to someone in need.

The company has recently been criticized for hurting economies struggling against poverty by taking away business with their shoe give-aways.

A for-profit company, TOMS’s mission is to help societies that are lacking in basic supplies such as shoes. They have announced their plan to produce one third of shoes in the countries in which they donate the extra pair.

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoe company, has stated that the company is looking forward to helping solve more global issues such as clean water, nutrition and education. The company is examining ways to expand their product lines and business model to help further improving the quality of lives of those suffering from poverty around the world.

TOMS website shares how providing shoes to children helps give them the ability to go to school, to work and to participate in their communities without fear of injury and illness that can easily happen with bare feet.

Shoes are a basic need for everyone, and having kids in school, working and being healthy is a huge factor in breaking societies out of poverty.

The TOMS team calculates how many pairs of shoes they sell and match that number in pairs that they will give away.

Partners that operate community health programs in foreign countries work with TOMS to figure out sizes, quantities, and delivery costs. TOMS covers all of the shipping and distribution, and corrects their methods based on feedback from their ‘giving partners’ that are actually working in the societies TOMS donates to.

More and more companies are beginning to realize that making a positive difference in the lives of others is actually a very profitable venture. More than a billion people are living on less than two dollars per day, and that is a huge customer base for a company to cater to.

Viewing the world’s poor as a market share is an innovative and successful way to start a business and simultaneously free people from the cycle of poverty.

The cycle is often perpetuated by illness, malnutrition, unemployment and lack of medical care; these are problems that businesses can solve with new products and services. TOMS is only one of the companies that is thriving in the business world and helping people who really need it every step of the way. Additionally, TOMS personalizes their shoe donations for the different countries they assist. In January 2014, members of the company visited Tanzania and learned that almost half of the residents are under the age of fourteen years old.

This helps them decide types and quantities of shoes to distribute to Tanzania versus another country with alternative statistics. The more successful TOMS becomes, the more people across the globe are receiving shoes and the ability to walk to a better future on their own.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: The Huffington Post, Toms, Toms Stories
Photo: Forbes