JAXPORT Partner Spotlight: Ocean Sole Africa

Ocean Sole
Sep 23, 2021 | Cargo Blog

Ocean Sole Africa Inc. is a nonprofit that turns old flip-flops that have washed up on the beaches and waterways in Kenya into eye-catching gifts and collectibles.

The organization employs native artists in Kenya to upcycle (turn waste into something of use) the collected shoes.

Kenyan artists use the flip-flops to create works of art – everything from keychains, home décor and masterpieces – that are shipped from Mombasa, Kenya to JAXPORT. The colorful creations are then sold and distributed throughout the United States and beyond through Ocean Sole’s Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida warehouse and retail shop.

Ocean Sole says the efficiencies Northeast Florida’s transportation network offers international shippers attracted them to the region.

“We have been so happy to leverage the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows small social enterprises to import our goods into the USA without import tax,” said CEO Erin Smith. “The location and service of JAXPORT was instrumental in our decision to base ourselves in the 904 area. We continue to thrive with the support of the port making it easy for us to conduct business in the USA.”

Ocean Sole

Upcycling the old flip flops into art creates steady work for 100 Kenyans, and collecting the shoes from the shorelines creates income opportunities for about a thousand more people in the country. Funds from product sales are invested back into the community through food, education and vocational programs, as well as beach cleanups and conservation efforts.