Ever imagined, the pair of shoes you discarded last time could be refurbished and reused? WHO delineates, 1.5 billion people still endure the pain of being infected by the diseases caused by unprotected feet. GreenSole, a self-sustaining social venture, perceiving the potential in the idea of recycling, took charge of this issue and started off with a mission to cover every barefoot in need, along with creating employment. Apart from creating a social impact, the venture does its part in saving the environment by minimising the waste generated due to the discarded footwear and obviating the CO2 emission, as the manufacturing of a pair of shoes generates 30 lbs of emission, which is equivalent to leaving a 100 watt bulb burning for a week.
Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami were introduced to each other as athletes at Priyadarshini Park in Mumbai. As they ran hundreds of kilometres every year, they discarded three to four pairs of shoes at the same time. With an intention of making the discarded shoes reusable, after some research they were able to reform the sports shoes with intact soles into comfortable slippers. This is how their journey began.
Shriyans told us, although, the idea was appreciated by all from the beginning, they experienced a breakthrough when they presented the idea in an exhibition at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmadabad, in 2014, where the idea was exalted and they were selected among the top 30 innovators of country. The idea was also accorded with the Technology and Sustainability Award in Eureka, International Business Plan Competition of IIT Bombay and the venture received funding worth 3 lacs.
While planning to make this idea widely applicable, the duo faced the problem of not having any prior experience in this field. In the quest for a solution, they reached Thakkar Bappa Colony in Mumbai, which is famous for its shoe market, where they gathered information regarding shoe manufacturing. To execute the idea of refurbishing on a large scale, GreenSole took Ram Fashion Exports on board, a company manufacturing shoes since the past 53 years.
The business model of GreenSole is based on the concept of collecting, recycling the discarded footwear and then distributing them. Currently, the venture has partnership with 17 corporates like Tata Group, JLL, India Bulls etc. Discarded footwear are collected from these corporates and also from a collection centre, located in Mumbai, which are then sent to Ram Exports factory to make them reusable. The refurbished footwear are then distributed in schools across villages. A part of the footwear manufactured is also sold by this social venture to make itself sustainable.
GreenSole has been successful in taking care of 10,000 bare feet. Footwear have been provided to the students in schools across the villages like Murbad, Naroli, Kalsuri, Mokhada. Creating an environmental impact, GreenSole has saved 45,000 lbs of CO2 emissions.
Along with all the laurels, GreenSole has been also eulogized by Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, and Barack Obama, President of USA.
Impelling the entrepreneurs to work for social causes, Shriyans says, “Business and philanthropy can be done together.”
Watch Shriyans Bhandari speak about bringing a change, https://youtu.be/p-0xapVFP9o .