The Australian social enterprise changing lives one Flip Flop at a time.
Moeloco is an Australian social enterprise company that is leaving a lasting footprint – one step at a time.
Founded by Kathy Wong, Moeloco is grounded in the business model of parallel giving. For every pair of Moeloco flip flops sold, another pair of school shoes is donated to some of the world’s most underprivileged children. Teaming up with the HOPE Foundation, Moeloco is harness the power of entrepreneurship to make a positive difference.
I love that Moeloco means Dream Crazy! Tell us about your journey and dream that began Moeloco?
Thanks. Dream Crazy is all about inspiring others to chase those big fat juicy dreams, the ones which make you feel queasy but you know you must pursue because thats when you connect into
something much deeper and find your purpose. I truly believe if everyone found what was for them, then the ripple effect is created as they touch every person in their life and the dream crazy
grows. This is how we change the world for good! After being retired for almost ten years from my last business, a design branding business where we serviced large corporates, I found myself back in the city after my sea change. Within 2 months of moving to the northern beaches, where I now live, I woke up one day to my lightbulb moment. Three words were downloaded to me which would change the course of my life. Those three words were make a difference.
With absolutely no idea how i could possibly do that, I started a Fb page sharing positive messages and inspiration to connect. During my retirement, I became very aware of the disconnect that was happening in society. Within weeks, strangers began to respond very quickly and at this same time , I learned about the 300 hundred million children living in the world without shoes, due to extreme poverty. These children were not allowed to attend school without shoes as they could easily spread disease though their bare feet and such diseases could be fatal. When I discovered these incredible facts, I became deeply engaged and that led me to further research around poverty and its consequences like human trafficking, organ harvesting. I knew I had to help! Soon after I learnt about this emergence of social enterprise and using business for good.
Of all the products Moeloco could have given to children in need, why shoes?
I wanted to start with something really simple that could make a big impact. I asked our charity partner what they needed. We were told that shoes were always needed as the ngos funds always went to all the other needs first. in some developing countries like India, children are not allowed to attend school without shoes for fear of them spring disease through their feet. Apart from shoes giving access to education, which is really the only long term way out of poverty, they do prevent the children catching diseases as they tread through open sewerage, in industrial waste. If these diseases are not treated , there can be fatal consequences.
Tell us about Moeloco’s partnership with the HOPE Foundation?
The Hope Foundation is Moeloco’s first charity partner, based in Kolkata and founded by an amazing Irish woman, Maureen Forest, who was a social care worker in Rwanda dealing with identifying childrens’ bodies in mass graves. Maureen, met Mother Teresa on a plane, and was so inspired by her work, she decided to visit Kolkata where Mother Teresa does her work. The first Hope protection home was established for young girls, and 8 years later there are 60 Hope Projects that cover education, child protection, health, nutrition, vocational training and a hospital. 3 million lives have been impacted. We just returned from India on a collaboration with another social enterprise, Nalu, where we gave shoes whilst they gave uniforms through their ngo.
Can you tell us about the manufacturing process of making Moeloco flip— flops?
Our flip flops are manufactured in China. It was the only country who could produce the shoes in small volumes to suit our needs. We visited our supplier and audited them to ensure they do not use child labour and treat their staff ethically. We currently use environmental inks in printing our rubber flip flops but in the future we would love to develop a material that is better for the environment however as we are a social enterprise startup with limited resources, the social impact is our priority.
Can you tell us about some of the design decisions you made when creating your flip— flops?
The shoes had to leave an inspirational footprint when worn in the sand as a point of difference for our brand visually and for the conversation we are seeking, that being to ask yourself, what is the social footprint you are leaving in the world? Every flop is designed with a different message like “I am Peace”, “Be Free”, “Dream Crazy”. We chose the rubber flip flop option as its the most widely used type in the world.
What are some of your ideas for future Moeloco products?
That is an interesting question. We are looking for brand collaborations so as to reduce the amount of product development investment and create a brand awareness, greater social impact for all involved. The other goal is to also create products that provide jobs for the underprivileged, thereby creating another impact. Some of the products we are considering are different shoe designs in different materials, bags, hats and jewellery. Watch this space!
The above article first published on causeartist.com in 2016.