Working World Alpargatas

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, then I would assume you have at least some familiarity with the TOMS shoe brand (if not, you can scroll down to the lower right-hand side of the homepage to get acquainted). While I heartily believe there’s much about the company’s one-for-one business model that’s worthy of praise, I’ve heard it argued (and rather convincingly so) that, in the long run, it may not be the most effective strategy to help those in the developing world. If you think about it as a modern day teach-a-man-to-fish scenario, it seems the greater deed might actually be to provide those would-be TOMS recipients with steady work, thereby enabling them to buy their own shoes. That is precisely the approach being taken by The Working World.

Though nearly identical to TOMS in appearance, the Working World’s alpargatas come with a feel-good back-story all their own. The shoes are produced by the Buenos Aires based Püpore cooperative in a worker-owned factory (using locally sourced cotton and non-toxic and recyclable EVA rubber). TWW, in addition to designing and commissioning the fabrication of the shoes, also acts as both a financier and middleman for Püpore, lending the start-up microcredit loans to expand its operations, as well as hosting a globally accessible Fair Trade marketplace through which the goods can be sold. With TWW’s help, Püpore is able to lay the foundation necessary for long-term prosperity, meaning those employed by the manufacturer are not only able to buy shoes for themselves, they will also be able to replace those shoes when they’ve worn out.

So, while the effects of your purchase may lack the immediacy of TOMS’ one-for-one program, there’s no denying that for every pair of TWW alpargatas purchased, good is still being done. And, because there is no second pair being donated, that good is being done at a much smaller cost to you (TOMS start at $44 per, TWWs start at $23). It all comes down to which approach you find the most favorable. Both sound good to me, but the final choice is yours.

For price and purchase info, visit The Working World’s Amazon Store

  • Sra. H

    The big difference is that TOMS provides shoes to children who would otherwise be unable to go to school. By making it possible for them to get an education, we are participating in “teaching them to fish.” There is always room in this world for more companies to help the community, so I’m thankful to see TWW’s approach is different from TOMS.