COhatch brings redemptive Community Town Hall 2.0 to Tampa/St. Pete
- $2M expansion in 2021-22
- Initial locations in St. Pete, Lakeland, and West Tampa
- Creating community, supporting nonprofits, and multiplying impact
A Systems Approach to Solving Problems
As societal awareness concerning pressing challenges such as climate change, socioeconomic disparities, and civil unrest has grown, there has been a corresponding recognition of the necessity for a paradigm shift in the way these issues are addressed. It has become evident that resolving these complex challenges requires moving away from fragmented and narrowly focused efforts. Instead, a systems-level approach must be employed, recognizing the interconnected nature of these problems.
Historically, the conventional method of addressing social issues involved, in part, providing philanthropic grants to non-profit organizations. While these entities play a crucial role in instigating change, their impact is limited. Their reliance on grant funding renders their efforts unsustainable. They often struggle to tackle root causes and system-level issues, instead narrowly providing temporary solutions, akin to band-aids rather than comprehensive remedies. In response to these limitations, venture philanthropy has emerged as a burgeoning global movement. This approach seeks to address the underlying causes that traditional philanthropy may not effectively access.
Dr. Josh Yates of Belmont University has spoken on the powerful benefits of a venture philanthropy approach. He notes, “Viewing this on a continuum of capital, venture philanthropy extends the toolkit from grant-making and output-only activities to other revenue-generating activities that generate social impact.”
World Shoe and Venture Philanthropy
Venture philanthropy takes a more dynamic approach by employing charitable dollars in both non-profit grants and for-profit investments. This multifaceted funding approach allows for sustainable and scalable initiatives. Additionally, Venture Philanthropy has the potential to yield returns on capital, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of each dollar invested and presenting an innovative alternative to traditional investment models. The ultimate key to this shift is the enlistment of strategic, catalytic, and tenacious capital that typically includes a blended finance approach. A powerful example of an organization that has transitioned to venture philanthropy is the World Shoe Fund.
The World Shoe Fund was established as an expansion of Samaritan’s Feet’s longstanding commitment to fostering global accessibility to footwear and reducing the overall prevalence of tropical diseases. Founded by Manny Ohonme in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet originated from Manny’s personal experience in Nigeria, where receiving his first pair of tennis shoes at the age of nine proved to be a transformative moment. This pivotal event inspired him to pursue his aspirations, ultimately leading to a successful college basketball career in the United States.
Upon returning to Nigeria later in life with his wife, Manny was deeply moved by the persisting hardships faced by underprivileged communities, particularly the sight of countless children still living without proper footwear, trapped in the cycle of poverty. This profound realization spurred him into action, propelling him on a mission to provide hope to those in need through the gift of shoes.
To accomplish this noble endeavor, Samaritan’s Feet introduced its distinctive Wash and Wear methodology, drawing upon UNICEF’s WASH concept. This innovative distribution model not only supplies prophylactic footwear to individuals in various regions but also imparts essential hygiene practices through direct, face-to-face interaction.
As of today, Samaritan’s Feet has successfully delivered shoes to over 9,600,000 individuals across 109 different countries. However, despite these impressive achievements, the prevalence of neglected tropical diseases continues to afflict more than one billion people around the world. As a result, Samaritan’s Feet recognized the necessity for a more efficient and comprehensive approach to fulfill its mission.
The creation of The World Shoe Fund emerged as the answer to this global challenge. By embracing an enterprise-based approach, Samaritan’s Feet aims to harness the potential of the venture philanthropy continuum within The World Shoe Fund, empowering them to maximize their outreach and effect positive change on a global scale.
Towards a Sustainable Business Model
World Shoe Global, Inc., the for-profit arm of the World Shoe Fund has been designed to create a more efficient and effective manufacturing/transportation model for the distribution of shoes throughout Africa. To support this ambitious endeavor, the company successfully secured a substantial venture-oriented grant amounting to 20 million dollars. These funds are being strategically utilized to establish a local manufacturing facility in Ghana, a crucial step towards positively impacting the impoverished local economy. Notably, this initiative is set to create 200 jobs, while also significantly reducing transportation costs in the region.
The core product of the factory is Samaritan’s Feet’s innovative “World Shoe,” an eco-friendly prophylactic footwear that offers protection against diseases and actively combats microbial cell formations that pose a threat to public health. Meticulously crafted from a proprietary blend of plastics, antimicrobial polymers, and biodegradation accelerants, this cutting-edge enterprise solution embodies a triple-bottom-line mission. By multiplying the impact of generated revenue, it endeavors to drive disease-fighting innovation, foster community development, and benefit socially conscious shareholders.FunFF
World Shoe Global, Inc. envisions generating revenue by supplying the “World Shoe” to local African governments, B2C retail sales, international aid organizations, and even first-world markets. This strategic approach promises to significantly enhance the sustainability and scalability of the initiative, as well as provide future impact investment opportunities as they replicate the factory model throughout Africa.
In a collaborative effort to achieve these goals, Commonwealth, an organization committed to promoting innovative research, consulting, and financial services to enhance communities and expand economic opportunities, has joined forces with the World Shoe Fund. Leveraging its expertise in impact investing and community renewal, Commonwealth is poised to manage the World Shoe Fund while providing invaluable advisory services.
Although the World Shoe Fund is yet to undergo full-scale testing, the experience of Samaritan’s Feet over the past two decades and commonwealth’s expertise combined with the formidable power of an enterprise solution presents a highly promising and innovative model in the fight against poverty and disease. This visionary initiative represents a significant step forward in making a profound and sustainable impact on the lives of countless individuals across Africa and beyond and demonstrates the potential of a venture philanthropy approach