TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — For the last few years, Because International has been fighting poverty by bringing affordable and long-lasting shoes to impoverished children with The Shoe that Grows; A project that has seen resounding success in more than 100 countries around the world. Now, Because International is expanding its efforts with the Because Accelerator; a program dedicated to helping up-and-coming entrepreneurs in developing and pitching their products, many of which assist in tackling poverty-related issues within their communities.
What Is Because International?
Because International is a nonprofit organization based in Nampa, Idaho that works to alleviate poverty through impact products and working with product-focused entrepreneurs. The organization was founded in 2009 to support delivering The Shoe That Grows to many children in poverty around the world. Since its founding, more than 400,000 pairs of shoes have reached children in more than 100 countries, illustrating just how Because International is fighting poverty today.
The Shoe That Grows, Because International’s first product, is a shoe that can expand five sizes as children’s feet grow bigger. The shoes are meant to last for years, while also protecting children in poverty from contracting soil-transmitted diseases. Furthermore, The Shoe That Grows is made in Kenya, which allows for the development of jobs to help economically challenged communities.
Because International is fighting poverty in a number of ways, one of which is through its support of entrepreneurs. Thanks to its Because Accelerator program, Because International is applying everything it has learned from The Shoe That Grows and sharing it with new entrepreneurs to improve poverty-impacted communities around the globe.
The Because Accelerator Program and Entrepreneurs
The Because Accelerator is a free program for aspiring entrepreneurs that takes place over 16 weeks. With this program, participants develop a business plan, a pitch for potential investors and the skills necessary for future success in their product. Near the end of the program, entrepreneurs get to compete in a pitch competition meant to demonstrate their product to investors. Thanks to the Because Accelerator, more than 1,800 jobs have been created by program alumni.
With this program, Because International is fighting poverty by elevating poverty-reduction-minded entrepreneurs and their products. One such entrepreneur is Onimisi Charles Atere, who developed Nimsy Solar Pumps as a means to fight food insecurity in Nigeria. According to the World Bank, moderate to severe food insecurity affects more than 58% of Nigeria’s population as of 2020. The Solar Water Pump allows farmers to pump many liters of water for farmland, making year-round farming and increased food production a reality. It also applies a rent-to-own model, making it affordable for farmers.
Miriam Feza is another entrepreneur who created Clay Cosmo, a beauty product manufacturer based in Uganda that uses natural ingredients such as clay for their products. Its most notable quality, however, is the focus on giving refugee women employment and training. The World Bank reports that over 1.3 million refugees have fled into Uganda. Miriam, who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo as a refugee in 2015, now seeks to empower refugee women and give them the ability to provide for their families safely.
In Ghana, it is estimated that 81% of its plastic waste is mismanaged, according to the UN. To combat this, Derrick Sarfo founded DercolBags, a Ghana-based company that works to develop more eco-friendly alternatives to replace single-use plastic packaging. To achieve this, DercolBags utilizes kraft paper materials certified to be non-toxic and recyclable, all of which are used to make a variety of different, sustainable packaging. The business has a mission to make Ghana cleaner, while also creating jobs for local communities in the country.
Ensuring a Brighter Future
By developing the skills of numerous entrepreneurs with the Because Accelerator, Because International is fighting poverty with impact product creation and the formation of new jobs for communities that need them most. In turn, these entrepreneurs have created products and created companies that not only serve to improve people’s lives economically but through sustainability as well. Over time, perhaps those who’ve learned under the Because Accelerator can pass their teachings on to the next generation and ensure a better future for many more people.
– Kenneth Berends