Today is World AIDS Day and the launch of a new RED initiative by Nike. The product, red shoe laces, is being made available globally in Nike retail outlets and the laces are being worn by Nike athletes and celebrities alike, most prominently U2’s Bono who is featuring the laces in concert events.
Of the 33 million people in the world living with HIV, 67% of them are in Africa where it is the leading cause of death claiming 4,100 lives per day. The tragic part of the story is not the death toll but rather the preventable nature of it, a mere 40 cents a day effectively treats a person with HIV with the ARV drugs that will keep them alive.
The way the RED lace program works is like this:
1. You purchase a pair of (NIKE) RED laces.
2. NIKE contributes 100% of the proceeds less cost of the laces/packaging/distribution to the Global Fund and to football-based programs that help fight AIDS in Africa.
3. Funds are received by programs like Grassroots Soccer, which uses football as a framework to teach youths how to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS.
4. Funds are also contributed to The global Fund to fund HIV/AIDS programs that support the purchase of lifesaving ARV (antiretroviral) medication, training of medical staff, HIV testing and treatment to help prevent the transmission of the virus from pregnant mothers to their babies.
5. Life-saving knowledge is received by the next generation in Africa.
This is a much anticipated day for my wife as her company is the global supplier for the Nike RED laces, having worked with Nike from the inception through every step to the launch today. Featuring a unique material made out of recycled polyester, you would be amazed at what it takes to design, manufacture, package, and then deliver all around the globe something as simple as a shoe lace. I am really proud of her and this accomplishment because it shows how a motivated entrepreneur who has bootstrapped his or her company can work with global giants like Nike, in her case becoming one of 36 manufacturing facilities that are considered “inline” to Nike’s supply chain. We are honored to be involved in the RED campaign and like Nike we are doing this not for profit but for the ability to change peoples lives half a world away.
Even social network companies are getting into the act with Facebook and Twitter running special events to bring awareness to the day and to the Nike initiative.
Twitter’s homepage is currently completely red. However, they’ve done much more than that – adding the hashtag #red to your tweets will turn them red as well. The same is achieved with the tag #laceupsavelives, related to NIKE’s “Red Laces” campaign, aimed at relieving AIDS in Africa.