Adidas plans cheap sports shoes for the world’s poor

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Adidas plans cheap sports shoes for the world’s poor

FRANKFURT - Adidas, the German sports-shoe company, confirmed Sunday plans to make “one-euro shoes” to offer to the poor and barefoot of the world, with pilot production to begin next year in Bangladesh.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus suggested the “social business” project to the company, which normally focuses on trendy, expensive sportswear for people who want to project a sporty image.

Yunus advised Adidas that people in the poor world need products that are both affordable and manufactured locally, creating jobs. The first Adidas non-profit shoes will be made in and for Bangladesh.

Adidas Group spokesman Jan Runau said at the company’s head office in Herzogenaurach that the “one-euro” ($1.48, 1,729 won) tag was more a concept and did not mean the shoes really would be that cheap. There had been no decision on pricing yet.

Confirming a report in the German Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, he said, “It is correct that Adidas Group in conjunction with Muhammad Yunus aims to put such shoes on the market.”

The product is to be sold at no more than the cost of materials and manufacture. A memorandum of intent has been signed.

It is not known if the shoes will have the Adidas three-stripes label on them, or be sold under some other group brand. Runau said it had been suggested the shoes not be branded at all, but this was being studied. “We’re just at the beginning,” he said.

The Adidas move matches that by other multinational companies eager to show social responsibility, such as drug companies offering low-cost medicines in poor nations or technology companies trying to develop the “$100 laptop.”

Shoemakers have often been accused of exploiting workers in their developing-nation factories, and Adidas has countered those claims with spot checks and projects to improve employees’ lives. DPA
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