Straighten Up Business Analysis
Read: Roller Bags Case Study
ROLLER BAGS: Lightening the Load All Over The World.
In 2002, Claude Ciseria started the Straighten Up program, the premise of which was to provide backpacks with rollers for children in need. For every roller bag sold, a free roller bag would be donated promoting Ciseria’s belief that the purpose of all humans is to help others and give to those less fortunate.
Why Roller Bags?
Ciseria asserts that children in many countries have to walk miles with either a heavy backpack that adds weight to their spine or carry heavy books and other items to school in their arms, also lending to curvature of the spine. Furthermore, this damage to the spine can have life-long damaging effects as the children move into adulthood. Ciseria’s idea to provide roller bags so that children can pull their books may prevent lifelong back pain.
Prolonged carrying of backpacks can cause scoliosis or curvature of the spine. In children, progression can be an issue and may require the use of a brace. Additionally, chronic neck and shoulder pain starts in middle school and can cause the need for inflammatory drugs throughout adulthood.
Furthermore, the constant weight of backpacks actually causes the spinal cords to compress and cause significant back pain. Compressing the spine by carrying a heavy backpack can affect how tall you one will grow. The lumbar disks, located in the lower spine, contribute to about an inch of human height. When children carry an extremely heavy backpack, 5 days a week for years, the spine is compressed causing them to shrink more quickly.
Straighten Up Program
Roller bags are produced in Ethiopia, Cuba, and Somalia and are provided to children in 20 countries. An outside firm audits the factories to ensure that the workers receive a fair wage and that children are not being exploited.
The Straighten Up program had donated 1 million roller bags by 2008. There is also a segment of the program that returns to villages and replaces worn or damaged roller bags.
How Straighten Up Works
Ciseria and his partners first established partnerships with global humanitarian organizations that have a long history with the communities in which they serve. Using the criterion of economic, health, and educational conditions and the needs of the community, the program identifies communities with the most need. Straighten Up ensures that the program will not have a negative effect on local businesses and that the children who receive the roller bags also receive support with health and educational needs.
Critiques of the Program
There has been concern over whether Straighten Up hurts local businesses that also make bags or backpacks. Critical needs require donations, but long-term, it may be better to teach local businesses to make the roller bags and develop entrepreneurs who would generate revenue to help the community.
Additionally, as a privately held company, Straighten Up is not required to provide financial statements. It may be beneficial to customers and stakeholders to know how much it costs to make each roller bag, as well as how much it costs to give away each bag. Without transparent financial reports, the program has been criticized as being more or a marketing ploy than a corporate social responsibility program.
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