Stopping Poverty in it Tracks

(Photo of Courtesy of Patrick Ramsay)

(Photo of Courtesy of Patrick Ramsay)

(Photo of Courtesy of Patrick Ramsay)
(Photo of Courtesy of Patrick Ramsay)

 
After a life-changing backpacking trip through Europe, Dustin Burgin quit his job and set out to change footwear forever.
Burgin, a former U student who graduated in business, is the founder of Corda, a startup business that trains workers in Ethiopia to make environmentally friendly sandals.
“Once I saw the suffering of so many while I had so much, I felt the calling to dedicate my life to it,” Burgin said. “Not doing that would have been much more difficult.”
Burgin said he found his life’s purpose on a backpacking trip when he met someone who told him about the poverty conditions in Ethiopia. Burgin then traveled there with intentions of starting his business. With full-time hires being paid three times more than the nation’s average, Burgin began the process of teaching employees how to craft shoes out of rope.
Burgin said the reason for higher wages is not just monetary gain.
“We are teaching people to be independent and stay out of poverty for good,” Burgin said. “Corda has already provided sustainable jobs for 15 deserving people in Ethiopia, and we are just getting started. We are creating a duplicable model to help many more underprivileged people worldwide. ”
Recently, Corda launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at increasing awareness, sales and the opportunity for growth within the company. So far, the campaign has raised around $6,600, though it initially aimed to raise at least $10,000. The funds were directed at gaining six new hires as well as paying to make Corda shoes more quickly.
Corda shoes are made using sustainable materials that produce the smallest possible carbon footprint. Because the shoes are made from rope, maintenance includes a quick rinse in the washing machine when dirty and a quick trim on the soles if the bottoms start to fray.
After learning more about Corda, Chris Smith, a sophomore in economics, said he was impressed.
“They look really cool, and I’m sure no one else has them,” he said. “I hate the idea of even wearing shoes, but I guess these would be a good alternative.”
Susan Anderson, an undeclared freshman, said she likes that proceeds go to help people in Ethiopia.
“I bought my Toms because I knew someone in Africa would get a pair of shoes if I did,” Anderson said. “If I know that someone is going to be able to feed their family, it makes me feel good knowing I did something to help.”
Burgin said Corda continues to grow, and big things are on the horizon for the company.
“We have amazing things planned for the future,” Burgin said. “Corda is partnering with One Wish World to take our model and provide sustainable jobs making awesome shoes to many more communities around the world. We are also working on a program to take recycled climbing rope and provide sustainable jobs in our own community in SLC, teaching refugees how to make baskets, mats, leashes, shoes and other cool products we will sell on our website.”
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