Ocean Sole Solution in a Box: from Trash to Trade

Published: 10 May 2016
Last edited: 03 May 2017
Ocean Sole aims to establish and replicate a model of commercially viable marine conservation entrepreneurship through repurposing and recycling discarded flipflops from the beaches and waterways of Kenya. More than 50,000 kgs of flipflops are repurposed into colourful artistic creations per annum. The organisation works specifically in areas where marine habitats and ecosystems are adversely affected by plastic/rubber ocean debris, where local people have limited access to education and employment and where tourism markets allow for thriving enterprise approaches. Ocean Sole also works in partnership with other local marine focused organisations on marine conservation issues. Other waste is collected by small collection teams along the shore line, and where possible, this is sold/traded to/with industry for reuse. Ocean Sole currently employs 35 – 50 local artisans, providing training and support to ensure high quality of products and sells these creations through a network of distributors and retail outlets globally. The company turnover is in excess of $400,000. Any profits are re-invested into the organisation to develop the model for replication in other areas that fit the criteria of making a social and environmental impact.

Classifications

Category
Sustainable livelihoods
Other
Marine conservation entrepeneurship
Scale of implementation
Local
Phase of solution
Planning phase
Inception phase
Implementation

Enabling factors

-Economically viable business model -Skills and livelihood needs in the local communities -Understanding of markets (good local tourism infrastructure, access to global distribution), potential for export -Distribution networks -Conducive environment for new business (fiscal and financial systems) -Conservation partners who implement education and conservation programmes, data collection and research -Financial, technical and managerial capacity within the organisation to deliver model

Lessons learned

- Good business governance i.e. board meetings, shareholders/partner agreements. - Good marketing strategy and implementation. - Good understanding of social enterprise with clear vision, mission and goals. - Good understanding of financial governance, catering to the rules and regulations of differing nations. - Good source of raw material, good understanding of its type, source and re-use. - Good ‘Go to Market’ strategy with an efficient distributor/dispatching system. - Ensure ethos of the brand is fully maintained throughout the various phases. - Good human resource systems that can be replicated easily. - Good linkages and systems between formal management and informal workers. - Good monitoring system for waste collected: where from, when and impact on those working with the enterprise.