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Our Women’s empowerment group doing their ‘chicken dance’

Every Charity has a way, let’s tell you about the team and our method.

Our Purpose: With basic needs such as food, water, and shelter requiring so much effort on a daily basis, it’s challenging for African’s to not only improve their lives but to improve those of younger generations. That’s where we come in. We focus on the next tier of needs – health, education, and empowerment – in order to help our African brothers and sisters not only survive, but thrive. We like to say that our sole reason for being is to enable them to Take Big Steps Forward.

Our Story: A near death encounter on a Zanzibar beach, two days before the Millennium, started the mission of purpose… but we’ve been working and building community on the ground in Africa since 1995 so our perspective comes from within the lives of the people we serve, not from some outside view. (founders story)

Our Method: Listen carefully to the needs, see how we can support and add value to assist their solutions, bring in help & assistance, work alongside the community, share global ideas and create a better environment. Use constant monitoring, hands on help, and brainstorming to work out the best solutions.

NYC Board:

Jon Lang, joined Dec. 2015
Summer Lang, November 2019
Sherif Moussa, November 2019
Zeynep Siegel, joined May 2015
Dave Siegel, Chairman. Joined Dec. 2013

Toby Tanser, CEO, Founder. ex officio
Amy Zhen, joined Mar. 2021
Click to open up board bios
Founder’s story

Advisory Board:

Kim Alexis, Supermodel, Women’s Ambassador. WEB
Kathy Spahn, CEO of Helen Keller. WEB
George Hirsch, Chairman of the NYRR (NYC marathon). WEB
Kamuti Kiteme,Executive Vice President, Databanq Internet Media Services, Inc.
Mary Wittenberg, Former CEO NYC Marathon, CEO of Virgin Sport. WEB
Honorary former advisories; Grete Waitz, and Shay Hirsch.

Phil Devivo, Global Ambassador

Shoe4Africa Hospital Board:

Dr. J. C. Kibosia, former CEO Kenyatta National Hospital & Moi Referral Hospital. (Eldoret)
Dr. W. Aruasa, CEO, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. (Eldoret)
Toby Tanser, CEO & Founder of Shoe4Africa. (NYC/Eldoret)
Chelimo Saina, Women’s Community Representative. (Seattle/Eldoret)
Eng. Atogo Odhiambo, MTRH/S4A Hospital Engineer. (Eldoret)
Mrs. Selah Peplan, Secretary, Administrator of Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital. (Eldoret)

More about our method.

Why Sub-Saharan Africa?

There is no place in the world with a greater need for the basic necessities of life than in the region of East Africa; the cradle of mankind.

Do you do the work, or do you use partners on the ground?

We do the work.  Whilst we understand the ‘new trend is for charities in America to raise awareness and then fund ‘partners on the ground’ this actually doubles your overheads. This is why over 50% of funds raised for Africa in America stay in America!  If that large charity trusts the partner-on-the-ground why don’t they advise you to just donate directly to them?  Proof of this concept is our hospital had less than $15,000 in project management & staff fees over three years for a multi-million dollar building for our organization.  Our 3rd and 4th schools – zero project management costs!

We always use a local staff when working on our projects, hiring locals.

You used to say 100% of the monies went to the project; what changed?

We used this model for 19-years, we really tried and managed.  We could do it by asking our big donors to be angel funders to make it seem like your donation is going “100%” but in all reality you either work for free, or someone pays.  We tried the absolute free method of NO salaries whatsoever for almost two decades…

If a charity says 100% and is paying salaries that is a clue that they are probably paying another charity to do the work for them. (Check to see if they have “partners”).  Whilst there is nothing wrong with this practice it is misleading as they give your ‘donation’ to another organization that has its own set of expenses.

Why do NGO’s say they are helping Africa, is this what “Africa” is asking for?

There is only one non-Kenyan on our decision making Hospital Board.  All the requests we get for the work we do comes 100% from Africans living in Africa.  Only with our org. being based in America are we successfully able to fund raise.  We have tried the method of fund raising in both continents; Africa & Americas – for us one works, one doesn’t.

Can I see your projects on google maps?

Of course! Google; Shoe4africa + Eldoret, Kenya and you can zoom in our hospital.  The schools are there too.  Want to start a project with us, we’ll fix on the co-ordinates and zoom you in form your armchair. Check out the hospital!

I went to another charity website and I was amazed how slick it was…”

Yes we don’t spend money on a slick website, we don’t spend money on pretty much anything other than getting programs done.  That could be to our detriment in terms of fund raising we realize, but our model is based on not wasting your money on website, cool video’s, awesome this that and the other…

How our model financially functions.

For a long time we worked truly as a Volunteer charity, for 19-years (1995-2014) no one took a salary.  The work became overwhelming, time consuming beyond a concept of normal time, travel in two continents; a labor of love turned into a total time vortex. People thought we weren’t an official charity either as we didn’t pay a staff. The concept of all-volunteer started to backfire.

S4A has one paid full time staff member who oversees and builds up the team at the start of each project, that staff member oversees the general running of the org.  We have absolutely zero office expenses (never had) in either America or Kenya.

A book keeper, and auditors, are hired, and the board oversees all expenditure & approves the budget.  That is the USA.  In Africa we have a board who help with the actual projects.  Our engineer vets the hiring process, and our board selects the Architect and Contractor for each project.  Again the every day running of the show is done by the same one staff member who can work bi-continentally.

This way we are able to keep the costs extremely low, and we keep our eyes entirely on the  work from the actual donation all the way to the implementing at the destination.

We never begin a project launch (break ground) unless we are sure that we will complete it.

In twenty years how much have you paid for marketing and PR, and producing state-of-the art videos?

Nothing; not a penny.  The only video we had that was professionally made, our infomercial, was made for free by Jesse Dylan (Son of Bob!).  However for new charities we don’t advise you try this method!  We have seen the people who have slick websites, superb videos, pay for marketing bring in far more money than we do, even when they do less work!  An example is a charity whose mandate is health in Kenya – all they do is advise people to go to our hospital and other Kenyan government run establishments.  yet their marketing, and website, are brilliant.

Why a Hospital?

Again, it was a request of the Kenyan people; ‘We don’t have a dedicated public children’s hospital in the entire region of East & Central Africa.’  The (then) Minister of Medical services stated although there was a dire need the budget for health, at around 5% GDP, could sustain programs, not start new projects.

Many diseases are regularly found (or endemic) in Africa and often prove fatal when they’re not treated quickly and efficiently.   Access to healthcare is critical.  A health center is also important where it can be a database and knowledge central station.  We realized that our 105-bed hospital* might be a good start, but if we can get that hospital works as a digital imaging global hospital with partner hospitals around the globe…. (*currently 150+ beds)

At our hospital students from the Moi University are coming Monday to Friday training to become the next medics of East Africa.

Why Education?

A most memorable lunch in Kenya with a Rwanda genocide survivor, “I saw the people who killed by parents, my brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts… I hid in the bush.  The killers were the uneducated; educated people would have never done that.”  (Disi D.)

Education opens the door to a better life, upon that probably the whole world will agree.  We want to improve the education levels in the areas where we work and are doing so in our schools.

Shoe4Africa Schools are free and fully government accredited; meaning access for all regardless of what race, religion, sex or income every single child is welcomed; we are all inclusive.  Our schools are chosen, built, and run by the community.  An ambassador, local to the village, who has reached extraordinary levels, in both Education and Sport, is chosen to set a standard for achieving success.  We build in the village communities shunned by the more traditional charities who have habitually chosen high profile city areas.  The community is 100% gifted the trusted building, thus completely taking the onus on for being the change maker for its tomorrows.

Why the name Shoe4Africa?

A story about a shoe that was lost in Africa.

I see the name Africa but notice a lot just about Kenya?

The plan was to help where we could; what started out in Kenya soon expanded; to Tanzania with events and programs, then to Morocco, we were helping athletes from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, and many more countries with shoe donations and sending equipment, and helping with some scholarships.  Even out of Africa to Sri Lanka, New York, and the Ukraine, and  yet our team was small.  We constantly monitor and evaluate our work and realized given our current size (monetary and staff) we could be more efficient working mainly within a hundred mile radius.

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