Working in Zambia and Kenya, Alive and Kicking is a social enterprise that promotes health education by manufacturing soccer balls for children and at the same time, creating jobs for local communities. Founded in 2004 by schoolteacher Jim Cogan, this enterprise manufactures hand-stitched balls made with local leather, which means that they are more resistant than even the best imported synthetic soccer ball. This makes Alive and Kicking’s soccer balls suitable for rough African Grounds. Each ball has important messages about malaria and HIV/AIDS in an effort to get teachers and coaches talking about the diseases that affect Africa the most.
Most of the stitchers at Alive and Kicking’s centers come from urban areas in the African capitals of Nairobi, Kenya and Lusaka, Zambia. The impact of each job is astonishing. Here’s some numbers: 87 percent of the staff have improved their standard of living thanks to the job; for 55 percent of the employees, this is their first formal employment; each employee supports an average of 6 people on their Alive and Kicking salary. Alive and Kicking also offers health awareness and HIV/AIDS education programs.
By creating fair wages and good working conditions, the 150 people currently employed at Alive and Kicking are given the opportunity to improve their livelihoods. What’s more, many children make their own balls out of plastic balls, thus playtimes are drastically changed by being able to play soccer with a real ball, while getting exercise and having fun while doing it. Alive and Kicking’s slogan is “Made in Africa, by Africa, for Africa,” which is something that we can all support.
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