Friday, April 30, 2010


This is actually the second over-sized TOMS shoe I've encountered over the past few months...

I spoke this week at a luncheon for Baptist Health Foundation's annual BOLO Bash in Little Rock, AK. Baptist Health Foundation is the largest not-for-profit health care system in Arkansas!

The large TOMS shoe was created by a Baptist Health Foundation volunteer/board member named Terri Snowden. Talk about creativity!


aaayush said...

Hi Mr Mycoskie,

I am Ayush Neupane, an international student from Nepal at Saint Peter's College, NJ. My passion is to fight against global poverty and I have a model which (I think) will change the way poverty is fought against, and be successful too.

The model is nothing complex, actually very simple and your company would be a very good case to build my arguments for why we should encourage this model -- social entrepreneurs operating for-profit and not-for-profit businesses side-by-side.

I came to know about your company only today and I was so glad to see that what I have been thinking about, building on and telling others (sadly I have not had anyone to tell me that it will work) actually works perfectly. My argument is that the current financial aid system in the world is inefficient. It does not take into consideration that the best way to get efficiency is through capitalism and not through socialistic approach. We have so much money going into charity but they do not bring as much result as they were intended to. Why?

aaayush said...

Taking the example of what you have done, you are passionate about giving away the shoes. I attended a leadership conference at school and the keynote speaker played a video about your work as a part of his presentation. This was the first time in the last two years (and the second time in six) I was brought close to tears by anything. If I had not been with more than a hundred people, I would have shed tears. I could see that you really cared that the shoes got to the feet of the children who really needed them. The action of putting the shoes on their feet is the difference between the social-business that really makes the difference in the fight against poverty and the current system that has been a failure in many ways.

Continuing with the example of Bill Gates, with the experience of running Microsoft (and the genius that he is), he can manage any company better than most of the not-for-profit organizations are being managed right now. With the correct mix of people devoted to the cause that Mr Gates believes in, the resources that he will be using to achieve those goals will be achieved better. You are getting the work you want to do (providing an opportunity to kids to wear their first pair of shoe in their life and help them experience what it feels like), in probably the best possible way, because you and your group of people firmly believe in what you are doing and you are giving away a part of your possession that you worked hard for. This leads to better efficiency in every way.

I am planning to participate in at least one business plan competition next semester and have been dwelling on which of my ideas to use. I would be glad if I could use your company to make my case, and would really appreciate any further support (with the plan). I want to start a for-profit venture in Nepal which will support not-for-profit or charity effort/s. I need someone to guide me too for this and you would be the perfect person to help me. I know you are really busy but I hope you will give it some thought.


PS: I thought that this was the fastest and the best way to reach you and was not intended as a comment to your blog post. Also I really appreciate what you are doing. This has become a clich̩, but not in your case Рwe really do need more people like you (and I hope to be one of them). And I was not allowed to post it as a single comment because it was too long.

aaayush said...

Public financial aid system (mainly through the World Bank) dealing directly with governments of developing countries is very inefficient. The main problem is corruption, with a host of other problems coupled together. Most of the money gets lost in between receiving the money and reaching the people who it was intended for. Being from Nepal, and as a son of a former journalist, I know of many cases where millions of dollars (which is too much money for anyone in Nepal, even the richest) has been given as commission or misused in some way or the other. There are development projects which should have been completed 10, 20 years ago but still are not even half done.

Private financial aid system (foundations and charity organizations) where INGOs and NGOs work off the money that they get from donors, are very inefficient and is a very attractive source of income to many people, all over the world. Almost all the time, the work that these organizations do is with the money that they get from someone else. Since they will not feel ownership over the money they are spending (problem of free money), the money is not going to be utilized properly. I know of many examples (including family friends) who are millionaires (in US dollars!) because they worked for NGOs or INGOs. While millions of Nepalis are still living in extreme poverty (around 15 million, almost half the population of the country according to the World Bank), these people are living a life of great standard – driving expensive cars and living in expensive houses with a fat income every year. Your organization defies this trend and is what is going to change the world if we adopt this model than the one in practice currently.

Let’s take the example of the Gates Foundation. They gave away $3.0 billion last year alone and that is a lot of money for developing countries. My question is – why doesn’t Bill Gates start new company/(ies) that will do what he feels passionate about changing. Why doesn’t he start not-for-profit organizations with the money the foundation has and work towards what he really wants to achieve, just like you did? (This is just an example in a broad sense, without going into specifics what can be achieved and what cannot be).
Certainly, there are certain things which cannot be done efficiently in the way I proposed and the old system will remain there to fulfill the small niches. But the majority of the fund should be utilized in this way to achieve maximum efficiency.


aaayush said...

and my email address is: