Giving Back ... one pair of shoes at a time!

If I had to sum up in 15 words, why I donate to MicroLoan Foundation Australia it would be these:

“I don’t have to beg my husband for money anymore. Now he comes to me.” 

That's what Dorothy told me when I asked her how a small loan had made a difference to her. It still gives me goosebumps!

Exactly one millisecond after deciding to open my own shoe shop, I realised I also wanted to create a business that had “giving back” embedded in its DNA. Not just at tax time, not just for a particular event or on a special day or for one particular product … but 24/7 on every item sold in-store or online.

It took me three years and in April 2015, I became a not-just-for-profit. That term has no legal standing, by the way. It’s my way of describing that while I am a sole trader who is here to make a profit like any successful business, I also believe in giving back. Therefore a portion of every sale will be donated to an amazing charity.

Finding that charity took some time. I had two broad criteria: women and Africa. Women, because if you support women you inevitably support the whole community, and Africa, because I have lived, worked and travelled in this amazing continent and know how much need there is and how a little (by our standards) can go a very, very long way. I chose Microloan Foundation Australia. Their voluntary board (which I'm now proud to be on) raises funds here in Australia that, less humble expenses, are used to give loans to women in the Mulanje region of Malawi. The average loan is about $50 and is repaid with interest in four months. And then it’s loaned again. And again. And again.

I was extremely fortunate to be allowed to visit some of the women in the region who benefit from such loans with my darling mum in late December 2014. We spent a day listening to an amazing group of smart and proud women who have not only been given a small loan, but valuable training in business practices. They are confident and empowered and have become role models in their community. Click here to meet some of these amazing businesswomen.

So now, every time you buy a pair of shoes or boots, I am so proud to make a donation.

For shoes up to $49, I will donate 25c
For shoes between $50 to $99, I will donate 50c
For shoes between $100 to $149, I will donate $1
For shoes between $150 to $199, I will donate $1.50
For shoes between $200 to $249, I will donate $2
For shoes valued at $250 or more, I will donate $2.50

These amounts may sound small ... 25c there, $1 here. But together with donations from my beautiful customers, I have helped to raise $35,000 to date!

In my other life, I used to be a Fundraising Manager so I'm pretty anal about being transparent and accountable. I literally list every donation I've made to MLFA so you can see for yourself how much of a difference we can make together ... one pair of shoes at a time!