Known for their Social Responsibility programs both in Asia and Africa, highstreet shoe shop Clarks takes it a step further by creating a sustainable way of life for disadvantaged South Africans who are affected by HIV.
aunched in 2004 by Lance Clark, the Soul of Africa project has, and is continuing, to provide young women HIV with work, transferable skills and sense of empowerment. In the country, where 37 per cent of pregnant mothers and 16 per cent of all adults are affected by the virus, millions of children grow up as orphans. Visiting South Africa a few years ago, Clark said: [quote align=”center” color=”64736″]What the poor of Africa need are sustainable jobs so they can help themselves, rather than sit around waiting for foreign aid to arrive[/quote]That’s how Soul of Africa came to life and one shoe at the time, it has become very successful over the years. Last year alone 30,333 pairs of Soul of Africa shoes were sold in Britain.
By employing women from socially vulnerable backgrounds to hand-stitch leather moccasin-style shoes which are then sold around the world, these women are not only earning a decent wage for their family (three times South Africa’s minimum wage), they are also bringing money back into the community as all profits from the sales go into various children’s projects. They include the NELRU Training Programme which gives pre-school teacher training as well as offering education to youngsters; Khethokuhle Child Care Development Centres, and the wonderful Shepherd’s Keep, which provides a safe-house to abandoned babies.
Keeping business at its core, Soul of Africa is a different kind of charity. It doesn’t simply ask for donations, but utilises everyday skills to make a profit to run a local venture that benefits children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These children are the country’s next generation and they deserve a bright future.
By Roberta Phillips