The Teenage Sensation of TOMS Shoes
By Jules Hill
Taking social entrepreneurship to mean the recognition of a social problem and use of
entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change, TOMS
Shoes represents a perfect embodiment of the principles of social entrepreneurship.
The social problem that TOMS Shoes aims to change is the lack of shoes for children in
developing countries. By not having shoes, children are exposed to an array of problems such as soil-
transmitted diseases, infected cuts and sores, and the inability to attend schools due to shoes being a
required part of the uniform.
TOMS Shoes’ goal is to achieve social change and reduce the number of barefooted children in
developing countries through entrepreneurship. By taking advantage of a market of consumers who
seek a sense of altruism, but don’t have the time or information to make personal donations to
charities, TOMS Shoes can produce two pairs of shoes at an extremely cheap price, send one pair to a
developing country and give one pair to the consumer, and still turn a large profit due to a massive mark
up on sales price, all while providing a great service and product to the consumer. This embodies social
entrepreneurship as it turns peoples’ social conscience into profit, while helping improve the social
situation in developing countries. The combination of appealing to social consciousness and helping
social situations creates a promise of stability and support from consumer markets. TOMS Shoes is one
of the best companies at effectively turning social consciousness into a sustainable business.
TOMS Shoes has successfully organized, created and managed a maintainable venture that will
continue to generate revenue, allowing it to grow and continue providing shoes to more and more
children in developing countries. They have identified a social problem, and used entrepreneurial
principles to innovate a new business structure that promotes continuing social change. Hence, TOMS
Shoes represent a forerunner in social entrepreneurship and is a paradigm of its principles.