Kind ‘sole’: junior uses fellowship funds to send donated shoes to youth in Senegal


Alec Katz ’19 gives bread to the Talibés, or street youth, for breakfast before they start their morning studies in Saint-Louis, Senegal. His entrepreneurial venture will benefit these youth after graduation, so they have shoes to start businesses. Credit: Alec Katz ’19

Casey Kim

Alec Katz ’19 received the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, a grant that supports entrepreneurial ideas by providing mentors and financial support, and hosted a shoe drive this past week for underprivileged youth in Senegal to initiate his business, Soles4Good.

Soles4Good ships shoes to Senegal’s street-youth, also known as the Talibés, and provides them funds to start their own shoe enterprise.
By selling these shoes, the Talibés will be able to make enough income to pay for their loans and maintain a profit after they graduate from high school.

“As young adults, [the Talibés] graduate with few skills that will serve them in local society, as they spent much of their childhood begging for food and money to support their schools,” Katz said.

Katz worked in Senegal with Aider Sans Frontier’s micro finance office for the past two summers, and his time there inspired him to start this project.
“In the micro finance office, we taught the Talibés basic math and business skills to help them formulate ideas for simple businesses that will provide them with a sustainable future,” Katz said. “The shoe drive will provide these young men with a low-cost product that they can easily sell because many Senegalese are in need of shoes.”

Amaan Irfan ’21, who had a similar pitch during the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship presentations, joined Katz to create Soles4Good, along with the group’s Senior Advisor, Nathan Snyder ’94.