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Inspiring Social Entrepreneurship with TOMS Community

During the Spring 2014 activities fair over 200 voyagers signed up to be a part of the TOMS Community group. Photos by SAS voyage photographer Krista Rossow.

After a successful first collaboration during the fall of 2013, Semester at Sea is proud to collaborate with TOMS Community for the Spring 2014 voyage. TOMS will rejoin the shipboard community this semester to inspire students with real life examples of social change through entrepreneurship. A series of events have been planned and a special student group with more than 200 members has been formed to help bring this message of empowerment to all voyagers.

TOMS Community works to support and inspire individuals and groups to create positive change in their communities. The goal of the collaboration is to educate students and empower them with the resources and network to solve real world problems, an integral part of the Semester at Sea vision.

Through the One for One® program, TOMS has been able to give shoes, and now eyewear, to those in developing countries, improving living conditions exponentially. For every pair of TOMS shoes or eyewear a customer buys, TOMS will donate another pair of shoes or help restore vision to a person in need around the world. This business model is one example of how one can use influence and impact for good.

Bethany Clark, the director of TOMS Community, speaks to the shipboard community about opportunities for involvement.

“TOMS is a giving company,” said Bethany Clark, the director of TOMS Community, during a presentation to students this week. “We believe that giving is good business … And we’re leading the charge for a lot of companies that are following our example.”

On the current voyage, the new, signature Social EntrepreneurSHIP program will use TOMS as a case study in doing good through social enterprise. Professor Christine Mahoney will use the book Start Something That Matters, written by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie about the creation and success of the company, to talk about creating positive change through social entrepreneurship.

Mahoney, an Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia who will be coordinating a Student Venture Incubator on the voyage as part of the EntrepreneurSHIP program, sees TOMS Community as a real life example for students to study, understand and apply to their own future goals.

‚ÄúIt’s fabulous to have students actively engaging with one of the most visible social businesses today,‚Äù said Mahoney. ‚ÄúWe’ll study TOMS as one of many different types of social venture models as students work to devise their own social ventures and compete in the end-of-semester Resolution Social Venture Challenge.‚Äù

Semester at Sea has collaborated with other social enterprises on previous voyages, including Pencils of Promise and Serengetee, both of which were founded by SAS alumni with the purpose of spreading positive change to communities in need around the world. The founder of Serengetee, Jeff Steitz (F’11), will be sailing on a portion of this voyage.

Semester at Sea has also worked with many organizations that bring about social good in developing nations. Most recently, Global Grins, which donates toothbrushes to communities in need, gave Semester at Sea students the chance to deliver toothbrushes to villages during the fall 2013 voyage. The organization was founded in 2011 by SAS alumni Joselyn (S’83, S’84) and Todd (S’84) Miller.

Copies of “Start Something That Matters” written by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie were handed out to students.

TOMS Community plans on inspiring the SAS shipboard community with a series of events during the voyage.

In February, the book Start Something That Matters will be the jumping off point for lively discussions about the ways anyone can bring change to the world through their own passions.

World Water Day in March will bring awareness of many water issues and the importance of access to clean water for everyone around the world.

By asking students to remove their shoes in an act of solidarity during the One Day Without Shoes program in April, TOMS will help fuel awareness and foster dialogue on shoelessness – how a lack of shoes can harm children’s health and limit their opportunities to go to school.

Follow along with the Spring 2014 voyage using #TOMSatSea and stay connected with TOMS Community to learn about the good they are doing around the world by following them on Twitter and liking them on Facebook.

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