Nowadays, international brands such as McDonalds or Coca-Cola give back to the communities in order to prove their immense contributions to the world. The question is that do many global companies key in the legitimacy of charity as its core values or it’s just a selling tactic in order to win the hearts of more consumers, regardless of the types of products sold? While this article doesn’t attempt to look into the politics of global brands and how they are contributing to our society, we were impressed with a brand that was introduced to us at the TSC Marathon Fitness and Health Expo last week. Balega is a leading performance sock brand in the running, fitness and outdoor specialty markets, which one of its core values is focused on supporting local communities.
Balega, which translates as “To Move with Speed” in the Zulu language of South Africa, prides itself for having its products developed and tested in their South African production facility in Cape Town, South Africa. They utilize the best performance yarns made in the USA, where their distribution facility is in Hickory, North Carolina. They are involved in many charities spanning from both the US and South Africa and they have their own non-profit charity organization established in 2003 called the “The Lesedi Project”. Lesedi, which means “light and enlightenment” in Zulu, shows Balega’s optimal charitable efforts in education. The project supports South Africa’s Ethembeni School, offering education, life skills and training to over 300 impoverished and disabled youth.
Balega raises its money for the school through the Balega sock sales, fun runs throughout US Retail partners such as Fleet Feet Sports and the sales of the students’ commissioned beadwork. Balega is able to donate to multiple funds because the proceeds are solely run through the Lesedi Project. Balega has also contributed to the Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) by releasing their limited edition Words of Grit and Grace Enduro Sock. For every sock sold, one dollar per pair has been given to BCF, in hopes of raising awareness of breast cancer risks and prevention from chemical exposure. In addition, Balega will donate 5,000 pairs of socks to SoldierSocks, a registered 501©(3) non-profit organization dedicated to serving men and women who are currently serving and/or had recently served the United States Armed Forces this winter.
According to Tanya Pictor, Balega’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “We have an urgent need to help as much as we can to better the lives of these courageous men and women. They sacrifice their lives for our safety and this seems like the least we can do. The military loves our socks, but cannot wear them with their uniforms as the logos showed. We took one of our top selling favorites amongst military personnel and removed all visible logos so that they could wear high performance socks with their uniforms.” Lastly, in Hickory, North Carolina, Balega’s headquarters, the company also commits to donate 500 pairs of socks to the Catawba County United Way, a community non-profit organization to assist with the Point in Time Count of homeless people living in the area.
“Point in Time Count serves as the primary source of data locally and nationally to understand homelessness trends and to track progress on efforts to prevent and end homelessness for all communities” according to Balega. Balega’s charity work aims to make a difference in the lives of many people, regardless of where in the world their contribution lies. Their selfless acts of giving back highlight their South African roots, coined in the word, “Ubuntu”, roughly meaning “human kindness.” As Tanya comments, “It is our passion and absolute need, to live it every day”. We look forward in doing a review of the socks itself in a future article.