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Q&A With the Founder of Because International and the Shoes that Grow

 

Meet Kenton Lee, founder of Because International. Kenton traveled the world to gain perspective and see firsthand the issues happening in developing countries.  One day while working and living at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya in Eastern Africa, Kenton saw a little girl in a white dress walking next to him.

I was shocked at how small her shoes were.

This got Kenton’s wheels turning and led to an idea. What if we could create a shoe that could adjust and expand?  A shoe that could grow? When Kenton got back to Idaho, he grabbed some friends and they started to tackle the idea of a growing shoe.

In April, 2009 Because International officially became a nonprofit organization.  The first project: The Shoe That Grows.  This project came to fruition in the Fall of 2014.  And now is off-and-running (pardon the pun).  Check out the website to see the impact and be involved with this amazing innovation. But our story does not end with The Shoe.  Because International have other issues they want to tackle.

We have more people who need someone to listen to their ideas and dreams. We have more work to do to help put kids in the best possible position to succeed.

 

Below is a Q&A with founder of Because International, Kenton Lee.

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How did Because International get started, where did the inspiration come from?

 

The inspiration for our cause came when I was traveling the world 10 years ago after graduating college.  I was living and working at a small orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.  And one day, I was walking with all the kids.  There was a little girl probably 8 or 9 years old wearing a white dress walking next to me.  And I looked down and was absolutely shocked to see how small her shoes were.  They were WAY too small for her feet.  In fact, her shoes were so small that she had to cut open the front of her shoes to let her toes stick out.  That was the day that I had the idea: “What if there was a pair of shoes that could adjust and expand?  What if there was a pair of shoes that could grow?”  That’s where it all started.

 

 

Explain what the shoes are you introduced to the world and how they are helping lives around the world?  

 

The Shoe That Grows is an innovative shoe designed specifically for kids challenged by poverty.  The shoes can adjust and expand 5 sizes and last for years.  They are a very simple design that is easy to adjust, clean, and has no moving parts or gears that can break.  A very simple, functional pair of shoes to protect the feet of kids around the world.

 

Shoes are small things that can make a BIG difference as they help kids be more healthy, attend school more often, and have more confidence.  And The Shoe That Grows is a more impactful shoe because it can grow with the child’s growing foot.  So now kids can wear a life-changing pair of shoes for years.

 

 

 

Do the donations to Because International go directly to creating the growing shoes?

 

Yes!  For sure.  We are a nonprofit organization.  And every $15 = 1 pair of shoes.  For sure!

 

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How has the response been by the world community to the growing shoe creation?

 

It has been humbling and exciting to see the support of people all over the world, of all ages, of all backgrounds.  We never thought this cause would be more than just a hobby.  And then we accidentally went viral.  The world got a hold of it. And we have been supported by people all over the world ever since.  We get emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, and all kinds of communication from awesome supporters everyday.  We love it!

 

What is your vision for Because International for the next 5-10 years?

 

Our goal is to not only get The Shoe That Grows to kids – but we also want to use the production of The Shoe That Grows to bring jobs to families living in developing areas.  We just began to produce our shoes in Ethiopia.  But in the next several years, we hope to be producing in every world region where our shoes are being used (India, Southern Africa, West Africa, South America, Central America, Asia, etc.). We want to squeeze every ounce of impact out of this idea as we can!

 

If you had to give a small piece of advice to an individual wanting to start a nonprofit what would it be?

 

I would tell them to follow their passion – and invite others to join.  That is what it is all about.  Just keep going.  Never quit.  Keep operating in your passion.  And keep finding ways to invite people to join you.  You got this! 🙂

 

 

 

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