A closer look at TOMS Shoes raises questions: Does it hurt the communities it tries to help? How closely does it work with religious organizations? (Photo: Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes. From toms.com.)
The company promotes a “buy-one-give-one” business model and says it has provided millions of needy children with footwear.
Reporter Amy Costello investigated TOMS Shoes for a podcast called Tiny Spark – Igniting Debate About the Business of Doing Good. Costello talked to Laura Freschi at New York University’s Development Research Institute, who had this to say about how the company could be hurting some communities:
“I’m concerned that TOMS creates the impression that there are no shoes to be purchased inside of these communities, when in fact there are vibrant local economies. In many of these places where they’re giving shoes, it’s important to acknowledge that in some cases the buy-one-give-one model practiced this way could be harmful to those local producers and sellers.”