Instead of “buy one give one,” support local economies


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Donation programs often displace businesses in recipient countries

These days, you can buy an array of products – from solar panels, to baby goods, to soccer balls – and the manufacturer will give a similar product to a needy person, often someone in the developing world.

But many consumers have been asking: Does the "buy one, give one" model actually fight poverty?

The founders at TOMS Shoes have been asking themselves that question, too.
Their do-good model has been the subject of criticism. Among other things, critics wonder if TOMS is displacing local shoe producers, by bringing in their shoes from elsewhere.

Solution: Instead of giving consumer goods, give jobs

TOMS is exploring a shift in its business model, where instead of donating shoes to people in underdeveloped countries, it is moving its shoe operation to Haiti, where it can employ 100 or more Haitians in a "responsible, sustainable" shoe factory. This will infuse cash into the local economy, instead of flooding it with consumer goods.

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Category: Employment


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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