In a society with ever-increasing awareness for societal issues, there comes the quest to corporations to pair simplicity and tangibility of societal impact with profitability. From this quest emerged the now widely adopted one-for-one business model; its modernizer the well-known shoe company TOMS. The initial idea stemmed current CEO Blake Mycoskie’s trip to Argentina, where he witnessed the hardships children faced growing up without shoes. Humbled by the experience, Mycoskie sought to create a for-profit business that would be sustainable and un-reliant on donations. His solution? Simple yet revolutionary. The company’s coined one-for-one model functions exactly as it sounds—for every shoe a customer purchases, a shoe is given to a child in need. This model extends beyond shoes and has been infiltrating a variety of markets—“NouriBar donates a meal for a hungry child for every nutritional bar it sells; KNO Clothing gives away clothes and donates to homeless shelters; Soapbox Soaps donates a month of water, a bar of soap, or a year of vitamins for each soap product it sells, and so on” (UPenn 2016).
The exploding consumer demand for corporations that are socially responsible makes the buy-one-give-one model the here, the now, and the future. While this simplistic and seemingly-pristine business model may seem immaculate on the surface, it has taken a lot of heat from economists in regards to the real societal impact of its one-for-one structure. Economists and skeptics have questioned its operative feasibility and longevity, as well as the true long-term societal impact. This literature proposes that there is room for improvement within the one-for-one model and lays out potential solutions to mend these structural flaws.
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