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Jojo

A more transparent brand of social entrepreneurship showing you exactly how shoes change the world

by Karen Day in Style on 09 August 2011

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Jojo, an altruistic Belgian shoe brand, picks up where philanthropic companies like Toms leave off. Designed to look like a bandaged foot, for every pair of Jojo shoes purchased, they plant one tree or provide one person with a year of clean drinking water. But you don't have to just take the company's word for it; the enterprising young pair behind Jojo allow customers to track the progress of their contribution well after the point of purchase.

With a "choose, act, check" tagline, Jojo co-founder Matthieu Vaxelaire explains that the last step—following the progress of your contribution—is the most important part. In the future they envision shoes labeled with unique code that buyers can use to locate via GPS the well or tree they helped fund, "to really see their personal impact."

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The passion that Vaxelaire, along with his friend and business partner Christoph Nagel, share for bettering the world shows in every aspect of the brand. The Jojo blog is filled with Instagram photos of current inventory and brainstorm sessions, outtakes from video campaigns (such as their inventive pigeon delivery video), business information and more.

While they set out to produce the shoes in Brazil (where they first conceived the idea), after four months of working with manufacturers, the twosome realized this was nearly impossible and almost gave up. Their tenacity led them to finding a producer in China, who now makes the shoes in a clean facility using fair work ethics.

They put that same undaunted enthusiasm into finding Tree Nation and The Water Project, the charitable organizations with which they partner. Vaxelaire explained the need for "reliable NGOs, because it takes months and months to find the right place to build a well and we needed to be with them on every step."

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To help with the replanting of trees in Niger or the building of water pumps in Sierra Leone, purchase one of seven styles of Jojo shoes (€80 per pair). Simply choose the color, decide which project to support and then check in online to follow its development.

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