A Kenya-based start-up came up with this original and amusing way to recycle
The story begins back in 1998, when Julie Church, a marine conservationist born and bred in Kenya, noticed the large amounts of waste in the marine ecosystem while leading a project for the Kiunga Marine National Reserve in Northern Kenya and decided to take action. Inspired by the toys children were making out of flipflop debris, Julie encouraged their mothers to collect, wash, and cut the discarded flip flops into colorful products. It was then that she founded Ocean Sole, a Nairobi-based start-up which has gained recognition throughout the years as a small business that demonstrates enterprise and innovation (in 2008, it was one of the 12 finalists in the BBC World Challenge).
The company now has 40 permanent employees and cooperates with many more local people, providing employment to communities where it is much needed. “I was not able to afford shoes and had to borrow some to come to Nairobi to find work. I have been working here for 6 years…I can now afford to send my two children to secondary school and feed and clothe them well. I have set up a small farm upcountry with two cows and I sell the milk to my neighbors to make extra money and it is an investment for my children. The company supports me when I am sick and they pay my doctor’s bills. I say thank you”, says the worker Eric Mwandola.
Ocean Sole constantly expands its product range (they even produce jewelry which was exhibited at the 2012 Ethical Fashion Week in Paris) and since 2013, when the Ocean Sole Foundation was established, they dedicate 5% of their profits to marine conservation.