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TOMS Shoes gives back to communities

People are starting to realize that socially conscious businesses are "not a fad," the founder and chief giver of TOMS Shoes told Afternoon Mo Joe.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

People are starting to realize that socially conscious businesses are "not a fad," the founder and chief giver of TOMS Shoes told Afternoon Mo Joe.

Footwear that provides a pair of shoes to a child in need. Wood headphones that restore hearing. "Made in America" backpacks that educate children in Africa. Gunmetal whistles that promote peace in the Congo.

TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, along with almost 30 other social entrepreneurs, this week launched a new online marketplace of gifts that give back to communities. Customers can browse at least 200 items made by 30 social entrepreneurs with less than two months before the holidays.

"People, especially business people, are seeing that this is not a fad. Companies are growing and being built by incorporating giving into their business model," Mycoskie, who is also the chief giver of TOMS, said Wednesday on Afternoon Mo Joe.

TOMS operates through "One for One": For each pair of shoes purchased, the company donates a pair to a child in need. The business has provided more than 10 million adolescents with footwear since it's creation in 2006.

The for-profit business began seven years ago after Mycoskie wanted to provide footwear to shoeless children he witnessed while traveling in Argentina. Since then, the company also established TOMS Eyewear to help restore sight for people in need.

"To me that was kind of crazy to think that children who desperately want to go to school can't go just because their family can't afford the shoes necessary," the entrepreneur said.

Related: How to give a 'Gift of Purchase' with purpose

Givers working at TOMS bring strangers with them on trips around the country and world to experience the company's business model and to create their own adventures.

Two years ago Mycoskie wrote "Start Something that Matters" to discuss the power of incorporating giving into business. It includes interviews with other social entrepreneurs who have turned their passions into meaningful and sustainable companies.

"You can be profitable and give back," he said, "as long as you are smart about how you spend your advertising and marketing dollars."

Be sure to watch other web-exclusive interviews and roundtable discussions right here in the Afternoon Mo Joe section of the website.