What is ShoeShare Malawi?
We are a charitable initiative which supports talented athletes in Malawi by sending good quality used sports shoes from the UK. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, where most people live off less than £2 a day.
Working through the Zambia and Malawi Community Partnership we support sports development in the north of the country by shipping second-hand trainers to young athletes.
It's very hard to find good quality sports equipment in Malawi and that which is available is unaffordable for most (a new pair of trainers costs the equivalent of three months' salary). As a result, most players wear flip flops, old sandals or even play in bare feet. Owning a good pair of trainers is, quite literally, a game-changer and provides motivation for teams as well as helping improve performance and prevent injury.
How does it work?
We collect shoes from across Scotland through sports clubs, races and fixtures, festivals and collection points in gyms, sports shops and schools. Volunteers then take them to our shipping partner in Dundee, where they are transported by ship and road to Tafika Sports Academy in Malawi.
Tafika is a community initiative focused on youth development, sustainability and behaviour change. The sports academy works with over 500 local villages and schools to select talented young athletes of high-school age to coach to regional and national level. Through sport, children are also taught health education, resilience and social enterprise (for example, by planting crops in return for receiving kit and coaching).
How can I get involved?
By donating shoes! We need trainers (for volleyball, netball and athletics) and football boots size 4 and up. They don't need to be in perfect condition but do need enough life left in them for training and competing. You can do this by:
Dropping shoes at one of our collection points
Setting up a collection at your club, school, event or office
Organising fundraising events to contribute to shipping costs
It costs us £2 to send one pair of trainers from Scotland to Tafika in Northern Malawi. A £2 donation helps ensure the shoes reach Malawi quickly and can be put to good use on the pitch.
If you're interested in organising your own collection, please get in touch with us and we can support you throughout the process!
ShoeShare is run entirely by a small group of volunteers. We need more people to help equip the thousands of athletes in the Malawian clubs. If you can help in the following ways we'd love to hear from you:
Attending shoe collection events (e.g. races)
Logistical support to relocate donated shoes to our storage locations in Peebles, Edinburgh, or Dundee
Promotion of ShoeShare through digital channels (social media), print media (i.e. PR via writing press releases)
Although our current focus is on the Borders / Central Belt area, we'd love to hear from anyone in areas further afield!
Looking to donate a pair of shoes but can't make it to any of our events? Simply drop off your pair of shoes to your local donation point!
If your business or community centre would be happy to host a donation point then we'd love to hear from you!
Who do the shoes go to?
The shoes go to our community partner, Tafika. Tafika runs a sports academy in northern Malawi which develops talented young athletes aged 14 and up, coaching them to regional and national level. At present, the academy includes volleyball, netball, football and athletics.
Why are you sending trainers all the way to Malawi?
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with most people surviving on less than £2 a day. A new pair of sports shoes is equivalent to three months’ salary – simply not affordable for the vast majority of people. Good quality sports shoes are hard to find in Malawi. Most trainers are low-grade imports which don’t last long and are made for fashion, not sport. Scotland has a strong relationship with Malawi, dating back to 1859 when the explorer and anti-slave campaigner David Livingstone first visited.
How do the shoes get there?
We work with a charity partner, The Banana Box Trust, which sends the shoes from Dundee in Scotland by sea in shipping containers. The journey takes approximately three months. Containers usually go twice a year, depending on how many donations are gathered.
Is it cost-effective?
Shipping is the cheapest way of sending goods. We box the shoes as efficiently as possible to make best use of space – it works out at £2 per pair of shoes sent.
What about the environment?
Sending the shoes by sea has the smallest environmental impact. In an ideal world, of course, we wouldn’t send them at all but until the athletes can find and afford their own trainers this is the best interim solution. We only send shoes which are reasonable quality – enough to last the players several years. By doing so we’re maximising the lifespan of shoes which may otherwise be thrown away. We’re very conscious not to simply be dumping unwanted goods on another country and are looking at ways to recycle end-of-life shoes.
What kind of shoes do you want?
The shoes go to volleyball, netball and football teams so any reasonable sports trainers (and football boots) are suitable. They should be suitable for competitive sport (rather than fashion trainers) and in good condition, with plenty of life left in the soles and uppers. Minor wear and tear including small holes is acceptable. As well as being suitable to train and compete in, the shoes are a big boost to athlete morale so please consider this when donating.
Do you accept clothes and sports equipment as well?
At the moment the priority is sports shoes. We do with with Strips4Malawi, which collects team strips and football boots. If you can help with this please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
How many shoes do you need?
As many as we can get! We support over 200 teams and as players move on, more shoes will be needed for the new athletes. We plan to continue shipping twice a year, which equates to 15,000 pairs!
Where can I drop the shoes?
We have a number of collection points across the central belt and Scottish Borders, and we hope in time to have a network across Scotland. Please see above for details. If there isn’t a site near you, we’d love to hear any suggestions for one.
Do you work in other parts of Malawi and in other African countries?
At present we are focused on the district of Ekwendeni in northern Malawi but have potential to expand to other areas. Our current focus is on Malawi, thanks to the relationships we have with our partners on the ground plus the long-standing relationship between our two countries. Depending on the success of the project, and future funding, we may expand.
Is ShoeShare a faith-based project?
We are a small group of volunteers and are non-denominational. Our only aim is to support young people in their sporting development.
How else can I help?
As well as giving shoes, there are many ways in which you can help. We always need funds to cover our shipping costs, as well as volunteers to collect, pack and transport the shoes to the warehouse in Dundee. If you would like to get involved please contact email@example.com