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Around the world over 300 million children are walking around shoeless and every year over one million of those children die from preventable diseases caused by the lack of proper shoes.
Aashar Phool, a social venture committed to bringing positive changes to the lives of under-served segments of society through entrepreneurial novelty, has developed a business solution that addresses shoelessness for young children in an innovative and cost-effective way which can save lives, increase family income and improve the environment and eco-system.
The idea is to utilize unemployed rural women to harvest uncontrolled water hyacinth as the core raw material to produce children's shoes.
Using huge amount of water hyacinth in a more productive way Aashar Phool will contribute to solve the problems and environmental hazards caused by uncontrolled water hyacinth in the waters of Bangladesh. Engaging poor rural women in supply chain and production process Aashar Phool will contribute vibrantly in employment generation for a section of the society who otherwise do not have much contribution to the economic activities.
Aashar Phool will train up unemployed rural women about the production process through an intensive training program. The trained women will procure core raw materials–water hyacinth from nearby waters. They will process the water hyacinth stems in a prescribed way, assemble different components and make shoes under direct supervision Aashar Phool representatives.
Targeting the children aged 4-13 Aashar Phool will position and market the shoes as “stylish, comfortable and affordable”. It will follow cost-leadership strategy.
Aashar Phool will market the shoes through a third-party NGO having nationwide presence. It will arrange “awareness campaigns” in the primary schools across the country to make the school-going children more aware about the emergency of wearing shoes and other related health issues as well as indirectly promote its shoes branded as “Meena” for female children and “Raju” for male children.
Profit margin will be kept at minimal level and 90% of the profit will be reinvested as the ultimate goal of the venture is social welfare maximization.
Prototypes have been developed and being tested. A pilot project is under way in a remote poverty stricken village of Satkhira, Bangladesh. The results of the pilot project so far have been very optimistic.