Can the popular Toms Shoes’ business model help kids in foreign countries get an education?


Idea #8 One for One Private School

While traveling in Argentina, Blake Mycoskie saw people wearing a local style of shoe called alpargatas. Upon returning to the United States, he sold his online driving school company to fund a new business that would bring this unique shoe to the United States. This new company promised to give a pair of shoes to a child in Argentina, for every shoe it sold in the United States.

This business model became known as “One for One.”

Since then Toms has expanded this business model into other areas such as Tom’s Roasting Company coffee, which provides clean water in other countries, and Tom’s Eyewear which has restored sight to 275,000 people across the globe.

Can This business model work for more than shoes?

During an accelerated two-week entrepreneurship course, my team created a concept for a new type of private school that would help kids in other countries get an education. We decided on another idea, which was easier to research over the course of two weeks.

Several weeks later, I was trying to come up with social entrepreneurship ideas, and I decided to explore this private school idea again.

Education has always been important in my family.

It all started with my grandmother who originated in Argentina. Growing up she loved to read books. Her childhood dream was to get a college education. Sadly, her education stopped in middle school. She still knew the value of education, so she emigrated to the United States to build a better life for her children.

Today, her daughter, my mother has a college degree, and I’m on track to graduate college in a year.

Thinking about all the little details that had to fall into place for myself to go to college, I can’t help feeling lucky.

In other countries, children are lucky if they can even go to school at all.

The Idea: A private school that would support a foreign child’s education with each student enrolled here in the United States.

The foreign students education costs would be built in to the tuition of the domestic students. This school still have tuition expenses similar to other private because the cost of education in other countries is far lower than the United States.

For example, in 2013 the average New England private elementary school tuition rate was $22500 while the cost of an elementary education in African Countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania is $350. This means that supporting another student’s education in Africa would only cost 2% the total tuition of a New England private school student.

The curriculum would have an international focus, and connect students from around the world.

“MY THINKING WAS THAT TOMS WOULD SHOW THAT ENTREPRENEURS NO LONGER HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN EARNING MONEY OR MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.” — BLAKE MYCOSKIE, FOUNDER OF TOMS SHOES

To read more ideas like this one check the 3thousand ideas blog.