As you may recall, not everyone is convinced TOMS is doing much good with his “buy-one-give-one” scheme. Some think it is more about feel-good marketing than it is about truly helping the poor.
In April, a number of aid workers and development experts decided to try to draw public attention to this issue by organizing a counter-demonstration to TOMS Shoes’ popular “Day Without Shoes.” The critics called their action a “Day Without Dignity” to emphasize what they see as a demeaning and unhelpful practice.
The argument against TOMS’ strategy is based on a number of complaints, but is largely focused on the belief that donating goods is less effective — and sometimes even harmful — compared to aid that empowers the poor, strengthens local economies and is more about development than charity.
In this video announcement, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie says people who buy his $135 sunglasses will fund efforts to restore sight in poor countries:
Mycoskie: “With every pair purchased, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need … From this day forward, TOMS is not a shoe company. It’s not an eyewear company. It’s a one for one company.”
It’s not entirely clear what buying TOMS sunglasses will actually contribute to the vision needs of the poor, but the firm has partnered with the Seva Foundation to administer the eye care programs that are funded by TOMS eyewear.
My main problem with TOMS Shoes is that they all look like girls shoes to me.