NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Soles4Souls Inc., a global not-for-profit institution dedicated to fighting poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing, today announced an initiative to collect some 264,000 pairs of used shoes that will ensure reliable supply for micro-entrepreneurs in Haiti. The initiative adds to the more than one million pairs of shoes and other support that Soles4Souls has provided since the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti's island economy.
Founded in 2004, Soles4Souls distributes shoes in two ways. New shoes collected primarily from corporations and retailers are given directly to people in need, both in the U.S. and overseas. Used shoes are typically sold to carefully selected micro-enterprise organizations contracted by Soles4Souls to provide shipping, financing and inventory to ultra-small businesses in countries like Haiti where there are virtually no jobs to generate personal income. The sale of used shoes to support micro-jobs also funds Soles4Souls operations and its ability to further expand donations of new shoes.
"Our mission is to fight the horrendous impact and perpetuation of poverty," said Buddy Teaster, who joined Soles4Souls as its second CEO in October. "And one of the most effective ways that Soles4Souls can create sustained, positive change from the shoes we collect is to use them to help create jobs in developing countries like Haiti, where even three years after the earthquake so many desperate people still have no way to earn a living."
Soles4Souls is finalizing arrangements with a non-profit micro-enterprise organization in Haiti that will buy the shoes and provide them to its clients, along with microcredit, financial literacy, training and other support. These street vendors and other micro-businesses earn profits from selling the shoes, creating desperately-needed economic impact in severely poor communities.
Teaster said Soles4Souls expects to announce its Haiti micro-enterprise channel partner within the next few weeks. Soles4Souls has been active in the country for many years, delivering more than one million pairs of shoes collected from individuals, other charities and partners in the footwear industry – more than ten times the non-profit's original commitment to the country following the disaster.
A 2010 Congressional hearing on policy and trade reported that less than ten percent of Haiti's private-sector economy is actually working, and that the vast majority of the country's residents derive all of their income from informal, usually unstructured, ultra-small businesses having little or no long-term security.
"The difference we make in Haiti is in the opportunity we create for people to support themselves," Teaster said. "That's why we're asking all Americans to once again look in their closets, their basements and attics, to find those few pairs of shoes or extra clothes that they won't miss but that will help Soles4Souls expand its anti-poverty mission while generating a few vital dollars for hard-working people who only want to clothe, educate and feed their own families."
The Haiti micro-enterprise support drive for 264,000 pairs of shoes – representing one large container per month for a whole year -- will last until mid-January of 2014. Information about donating shoes or organizing a shoe drive is available at www.giveshoes.org/haiti.
To learn more about how you can travel to Haiti as a volunteer with Soles4Souls, email [email protected].
Soles4Souls is a global not-for-profit institution dedicated to fighting the devastating impact and perpetuation of poverty. The organization advances its anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributing those shoes and clothes both via direct donations to people in need and by provisioning qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Soles4Souls is committed to the highest standards of operating and governance, and holds a four-star rating with Charity Navigator. Please visit www.giveshoes.org for more information.