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Ecosandals.com
P.O. Box 2051, Wilmington,
DE 19899
sales@ecosandals.com

Contact: George Otieno
(02)-799928
akala@ecosandals.com
March 14, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


KOROGOCHO, KENYA SANDAL PROJECT SELLS OVER $1500 IN SANDALS PRODUCED IN KENYAN SHANTYTOWN IN FIRST THREE WEEKS ONLINE
Joint venture by Ecosandals.com (USA) and the Wikyo Akala Project (Kenya) launches, immediately benefits shantytown youth

Nairobi, Kenya -- Six years ago a young American and a young Kenyan established a small community-owned project attempting to address the dire poverty faced by the residents of Korogocho, one of the poorest slum areas on this planet. The project, through the training of young adults and the production and sale of enhanced used-tire akala sandals, attempts to provide jobs and raise capital for the Korogocho community. On February 16, Ecosandals.com went online, selling the Korogocho products worldwide. Three weeks later, the Wikyo Akala Project has plans to double in size as Ecosandals.com has sold over $1500 in sandals throughout North America. On five different continents around the world over 2000 Internet users have visited Ecosandals.com. And the site has accomplished such a volume of sales and web site visits without spending a single dollar on advertising.

"The valuable opportunity the Internet provides to sell local products worldwide has largely not been tapped," Patrick Mukoya, the Wikyo Akala Project director said in Nairobi. "If we continue at this pace, you will start to see some of the changes to Korogocho envisioned six years ago when this project was founded." With successful online marketing, Mukoya added, the sandals could become popular internationally and the Korogocho life that residents are used to – unemployment, illiteracy, inadequate health care, and dilapidated shelter -- could be revolutionized. The most fortunate of Korogocho families make about 2500 Kenyan shillings monthly, which is about one dollar daily. "The first three weeks are just a start," Mukoya stated, "but it has been a good start."

The Wikyo Akala Project was started as the Akala Project in 1995 by Matthew Meyer, a current University of Michigan Law School student, and Benson Wikyo with funding from the Samuel Huntington Fund of Westborough, Massachusetts. Over the past six years, with some local and international sales, the Project has sold over $7000 in akala sandals. The akala sandal, a used tire sandal similar to those used in developing countries across the globe, has been enhanced with leather finishing and beading. The sandal makers are commonly recruited from dumping grounds around Korogocho, where thousands pick through trash heaps for old metal scraps or rubber to be resold for 10 or 15 Kenyan shillings. In addition to sandal training, trainees are offered English, Math, and Computer training in an informal school in Korogocho.

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ecosandals.com is a nonprofit importer and reseller of products produced by the Wikyo Akala Project. Everyone involved with Ecosandals.com is a volunteer, enabling an extraordinary level of profits to go directly to Korogocho. For more information, see http://www.ecosandals.com.

Contacts:
Patrick Mukoya
Director
Wikyo Akala Project
akala@ecosandals.com
(02) 799828

Sara Orr
Public Relations Director
Ecosandals.com
sara@ecosandals.com

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