Kenton Lee is the “goody two shoes” behind The Shoe That Grows project. The project started when Lee, an American, was working as a missionary in Nairobi in 2007.
While walking to church, Lee noticed a little girl in a white dress next to him who had shoes that were way too small for her feet. The encounter prompted him to start Because International, the non-profit organisation that is behind The Shoe That Grows project.
Lee came up with the idea for a pair of shoes made with simple materials – leather, compressed rubber and snaps – that grow with the wearer. There are no mechanical parts or gears in the design, which reduces the chances of the shoes breaking. The shoes are easy to adjust and to clean.
The shoes come in two sizes: small and large. The small size adjusts enough for children to wear from kindergarten to grade four. The large size is designed for children to wear from grade five to grade nine.
The Because International organisation estimates that there are over 300 million children who do not have shoes and even more who wear ill-fitting shoes.
Lee hopes the idea of an adjustable shoe will solve this problem for children living in extreme poverty around the world, who go to school barefoot and are infected with soil-transmitted diseases.
Because International is raising funds to make the shoe through a crowd-funding campaign on Crowdrise. So far, the Because International organisation has raised over $100 000 to manufacture the next order of shoes that will be distrbuted in Ecuador, Haiti, Ghana and Kenya.