The Shoe That Grows is a simple and clever solution to a massive problem - providing children in the developing world with inexpensive, long lasting shoes.
Over 2 billion people in the world suffer from soil-transmitted parasites and diseases.
Add in injuries and other issues that come from not wearing shoes or wearing shoes that don't fit and it's clear there's a need for this kind of product.
The Shoe That Grows addresses this problem by providing inexpensive footwear that expand through a simple system of buckles, snaps, and pegs.
It adjusts across five sizes and last five years – providing better protection and better health for children.
The reason we are covering this product is it's a really interesting example of small business innovation.
The inventor is a guy named Kenton Lee (pictured). He came up with this idea while working in an orphanage in Kenya.
So he created his own non-profit to produce the shoes.
We've long been fascinated by how small businesses innovate. Our 2009 study - Defining Small Business Innovation - defined 6 attributes that enable small businesses to innovate.
- Personal passion: Personally invested, most small business owners are willing to try new approaches to make their business more successful.
- Customer connection: A deep and direct relationship with the market and customers helps small businesses understand customer needs, identify new opportunities, and fix problems quickly and efficiently.
- Agility and adaptation: Unlike large corporations, small businesses can quickly adapt to changing market conditions and implement new business practices.
- Experimentation and improvisation: When pursuing new opportunities, many small business owners and managers aren't afraid to experiment and improvise, accepting failure as part of the path to success.
- Resource limitations: Small businesses are adept at doing more with less. And these resource constraints lend to their innovative mindset.
- Information sharing and collaboration: Small businesses traditionally rely on strong social networks to share information and inspire innovative thinking.
The Shoe That Grows is an excellent example of these enablers in action.
By the way, the shoe is so popular they're sold out until July.