Haiti Doesn’t Need Your Yoga Mat

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Presidential swag knows no borders. Especially in Kenya, where shirts and merchandise featuring Obama's likeness have become fashionable. But a report by British NGO Oxfam argued for increased protection of textile industries within African countries because of the damage that foreign imports can have on weaker markets.


Hold on a second. Didn't the Indianapolis Colts win Superbowl XLI? Don't tell these guys. Every year, the NFL stockpiles tens of thousands of shirts from losing teams in warehouses. The merchandise is not allowed to be sold in the United States, so as part of a long-standing agreement with the evangelical Christian charity World Vision, the NFL donates these t-shirts for a tax exemption. Garth Frazer, an economics professor at the University of Toronto, has written in detail how donated clothing imports tend to cannibalize local production of goods.


Above, a U.S. Marine puts a sandal on a girl in the Philippines. Shoes tend to be an easy donation item for many in the West. The California-based business TOMS has been active in this field, with each purchase of a pair of TOMS ensuring that another pair will be shipped to a developing country. The brand has become somewhat of a combination fashion statement and public advertisement for the plight of unshod feet in poorer countries. But Saundra Schimmelpfennig, a blogger with experience in non-profit management, criticized TOMS and related ventures as being "good marketing, but bad aid." Schimmelpfennig argued that these programs do nothing more than contribute to poverty tourism and only serve to further undermine the productive capacity of the recipient countries.

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