During a 2007 trip to Kenya, American entrepreneur Kenton Lee noticed a young girl wearing shoes so small that she had cut open the front of the shoes to let her toes stick out. That was the day he was inspired to create The Shoe That Grows — a shoe that grows five sizes and lasts for years.
Since then, Lee’s nonprofit, Because International, has distributed 180,000 pairs of shoes to children in more than 95 countries. The organization recently started producing shoes in Ethiopia and plans to open facilities in Haiti and Kenya.
Today, Because International is among nine recipients of the 2018 Patents for Humanity Award, presented each year by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to recognize entrepreneurs whose inventions have a global humanitarian impact.
The winners will be honored during an official award ceremony on November 27 in Alexandria, Virginia.