Thinking Outside The Shoe Box on Father’s Day

This morning's Wall Street Journal is replete with articles that describe the continuing deleterious impact of the global financial crisis on so called "Developing Nations" and, of course, the deepening impact upon the US as "Welfare Cases Increase Sharply as Unemployment Pay Runs Out". Concern about maintaining financial viability and moving forward in new ways is on everyone's mind when it comes to our personal, business and political objectives -- most notably in areas of saving and spending. The following short story represents an exquisite model of how personal spend can offset government programs through creative capitalism.

I was delighted and awed yesterday when a close friend received a Father's Day gift of TOMS Shoes -- an extraordinary for-profit entrepreneurial venture established in May 2006. According to the company, "TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: For every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good..." TOMS estimates that 40% of the world's population is shoeless and plans to give over 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world in 2009 -- a remarkable feet (no pun intended) for a relatively small company.

TOMS notes that "Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries. Children can walk for miles to get food, water, shelter and medical help. Wearing shoes literally enables them to walk distances that aren't possible barefoot... Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential. There is one simple solution ... SHOES"

We need a lot of "simple [and not so simple] solutions" right now. Let's get working on them and reduce our dependence upon governments to address and attempt to remedy our global and domestic problems, putting one foot forward at a time. After all, how we manage our spend can have an impact that goes far beyond our four walls -- let alone any bail-out program -- if we make the right decisions, keeping the big picture in mind.

William Busch

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