NEW YORK, USA -- In a move that signals its evolution from a company that provides aid to one that also invests in the communities in which it gives, TOMS has announced that it will manufacture new pairs of shoes in Haiti beginning in January 2014.
TOMS is a company that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. To date, TOMS has given over ten million pairs of new shoes to children in need.
The announcement was made on Wednesday during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting by TOMS founder and chief shoe giver, Blake Mycoskie, in revealing the CGI commitment named "Large Scale Shoe Production and Job Creation in Haiti."
"TOMS is extremely proud and excited to make this commitment, and we would not be in this position if it wasn't for President Clinton's ongoing leadership and inspiration," said Mycoskie. "Three years ago at CGI the president asked me to help support the people of Haiti, and TOMS responded by giving hundreds of thousands of new pairs of shoes to children in need. Today, our dedication to Haiti is so much greater, and we look forward to creating jobs and opportunities in Haiti over the next several years."
At present, TOMS shoes are manufactured in China, Argentina, Kenya and Ethiopia. The company is actively seeking to produce a minimum of one-third of all of its giving shoes in geographic regions where its shoes are given – using local labour and local resources – by the end of 2015. For Haiti, TOMS has made a five-year commitment to produce millions of its giving shoes in-country – and to support the growth of a responsible, sustainable Haitian shoe industry.
Initial production will take place in a 10,000 square-foot facility located in Port-au-Prince and be dedicated to TOMS giving shoes to ensure that the shoes produced will directly benefit surrounding communities. TOMS also expects to generate local partnerships to support infrastructure and workforce support systems surrounding employees, their families and the broader community. TOMS executives will visit Haiti regularly to participate in the improvement of the production facility and oversight of fair living wages and working conditions.
The commitment to break ground in Haiti is not just the largest-single step in this direction for TOMS, but will, for the first time in TOMS' history, be an opportunity to support the development of vital public-private partnerships, substantial employment opportunity, and collaboration with the US government on import and export opportunities from the country's nearest and poorest neighbor.
TOMS' commitment has been several months in the making, with the company having worked closely with Haitian President Michel Martelly's office, the Primature of Haiti, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Center for Facilitation of Investment (CFI) and PACEGI – Haiti's Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Investment. Over the past year, TOMS has also been collaborating with over 30 artisans in Haiti to design a successful, limited edition series of retail shoes under the Haiti Artists Collective banner. This collaboration will continue.
Mycoskie added, "Today marks a major milestone for TOMS, but we hope it means even more for the people of Haiti, who have had to endure so much over so many years. By making such a strong commitment and business investment, we hope to inspire other companies in the fashion and footwear industries to follow suit."