Adelante was born from the realization that capitalism can be both the cause of and the solution to our greatest social challenges.
I was a 16-year-old surfer when I visited Latin America for the first time. Expecting paradise, I was shocked to discover poverty and social inequality on a scale previously unimagined.
Subsequent trips to the region throughout college solidified my fascination with a history rife with coups, revolution, and injustices.
I was struck by the potential of Latin America and its people, and I resolved to become part of the movement that would realize their promise.
So I worked for a non-profit to build stoves for indigenous women in Guatemala. And I interned for the State Department in Mexico City. But my non-profit work didn’t address the root of poverty, and government was too slow and had competing interests.
I was impatient for change with dwindling options, so I turned to the sector I had once shunned as the greatest perpetrator of social injustice: for-profit business.
Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. Friends had traveled different paths, only to arrive at the same destination. We formed a team.
Adelante would do business differently. Yes, we would produce shoes in Guatemala and sell them in the United States. But our cost structure would start from a baseline of paying craftsmen enough to live well in their communities. And our objective would be shared value creation rather than profit maximization.
The theory was that creating full time jobs that pay people enough to live well with their families would result in effective and sustainable economic development.
Of course, the impact model was only half the equation. You can’t build an influential company without an exceptional product. Our customers said they wanted quality, connection, and individuality. Fast.
So we built shoes that are on par with the highest quality footwear in the market at half the price. We decided on a made-to-order model that would deliver your personalized pair direct from Guatemala within 10 days. And we started experientially connecting each customer with their shoemaker throughout the production process.
The Adelante story is one of capitalism retooled. We envision a future in which business is used to reduce poverty and promote inclusive development worldwide. So, Seguimos Adelante.
- Peter, founder