tomsIn 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.”

That’s the history of Toms, the company, and its One for One Movement.  It’s address is http://www.toms.com.  It must be complicated to create a costing plan that enables one paid-for shoe to finance a free shoe.  One would wonder whether that makes the paid-for shoe very expensive.  It must require very complex accounting, a very willing entrepreneur or very generous customers who will pay a higher price for the shoe because they want to be part of the movement.

And there is no shortage of competent accountants, willing entrepreneurs or generous customers.  Judging by the number of such ventures, crowd-sourcing initiatives, give-a-thons and other such examples, it appears that there’s a trend.  It seems that people on the whole are usually happy to give and proud to share, except that the majority of people are not self-starters.  There are billions of givers in the world but they are all waiting for the few social entrepreneurs that will bring them together and motivate them.   Once that person appears, they will rally behind him or her with money pledges, offers to volunteer and the movement spreads.  Now there’s no need for a stadium or huge hall to bring people together.  It can happen just as successfully on the web and even more successfully because the web crosses geographical boundaries.

We have seen people support Tom’s, Oprah or the lady who sends emails requesting teddy bears or greeting cards for a child with cancer who wants to break a record before dying.  And don’t we all support such initiatives, wishing we could be as magnetic.  But it may never be, because not all of us have the talent of bringing people together.

As Christmas approaches, there will be many people who may go hungry, children who will not notice it’s Christmas because it was one hungry day like most others.  This season, decide who you want to be.  You can the social entrepreneur who brings together people and funds, in order to help another.  You can also be one person in the crowd that supports the social entrepreneur.  Do something for someone else.  That new dress or gadget will soon be forgotten.  But no one forgets the kindness of a stranger.

Merry Christmas and All the best for 2013.


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