Alive & Kicking: Working to Support Local Communities, One Ball at a Time

alive A&K stitcher at work

Known as “football” in most of the world, and “soccer” to others, the black and white checkered ball used for the game represents fun, competition, and sport. To more and more people across Africa, however, the “ball” is also coming to symbolize growth, development, and financial security.

Alive & Kicking manufactures sports balls – including soccer balls, volleyballs, netballs, handballs, and rugby balls – in Kenya, Zambia, and Ghana, and is the only formal manufacturer of sports balls in all of Africa. Alive & Kicking currently employs 120 staff, and is still growing. The organization is committed to not only producing quality balls for its customers, but also to boosting local economies by creating sustainable employment opportunities, and combatting the spread of deadly disease through promoting education and raising health awareness. It is also dedicated to making sure that their balls reach children who might otherwise not have access to quality balls for play – such as children living in orphanages or on the streets.

alive A&K children w ball

The balls produced by Alive & Kicking are made of African leather, making it twice as resistant to puncturing and tears as the most durable synthetic ball on the market. This is important, given the rough terrain on which children (and adults!) in many African countries usually play ball. In fact, Dartmouth College in the U.S. compared the durability of Alive & Kicking’s leather balls to typical synthetic balls often found in the market, and found Alive & Kicking’s balls were much more resistant to punctures from acacia thorns – a common enemy of balls in countries across Africa.

Alive & Kicking also provides fair wages and favorable working conditions for their employees, who primarily live in areas of high unemployment where earning a decent living can be difficult. Approximately 55% of Alive & Kicking’s staff have never held a formal job before, and each employee supports an average of six dependents with their salary. Employees are often responsible for supporting both their nuclear and extended family members. Alive & Kicking also facilitates workshops related to health and wellness for their employees, to raise awareness, promote good health practices, and decrease stigma around disease. In addition, the organization trains interested workers to be HIV educators to work with communities and help raise public awareness around health and HIV.

While earning an adequate income is challenging for many in Kenya, Zambia, and Ghana, the barriers that must be overcome for people who have a disability are even greater. People with disabilities are often stigmatized and marginalized, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, and frequently excluded from accessing resources and opportunities commonly available to others – such as education, healthcare, and employment. Some may face additional rejection from family members and forced to live on the streets. Alive & Kicking is committed to supporting individuals with disabilities, and aims to provide 20% of its jobs in Ghana to those who are disabled. As an example of this commitment, Christopher Mutale is deaf and has worked at Alive & Kicking in Zambia for four years – allowing him to support his family of ten.

And if providing balls for disadvantaged children and creating fair, sustainable local employment opportunities weren’t enough, Alive & Kicking is also dedicated to raising awareness and promoting health and wellness among the communities it serves. Leveraging the mass appeal that sports has throughout Africa, Alive & Kicking organizes football roadshows and tournaments for the public – and combines sports with health education, along with access to HIV testing. The organization prints simple health messages on its balls in an effort to reach children, and regularly runs poster campaigns featuring simple health advice endorsed by well-known sports personalities.

Alive & Kicking indeed is alive and kicking – helping communities have fun, while saving lives one ball at a time.

http://www.aliveandkicking.org/

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#209-1008 17 Ave SW
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Phone: (403) 800-6608