“Here a project that makes an impact in Africa, from Japan! Yes, from Japan.
Imagine that there are tires piled in front of your house 🏡, or even worse, that are burning 🔥 in front of your neighborhood starting a fire in the sabana…
Well, you can better read a bit more through this article below, to understand why Zapsap is an international best practice rewarded with a special recognition over the 5th Global Entreps Awards.
The Global Entreps Awards, by the International Board of Global Actors and Business for Sustainability, were born back in 2014, to consistently outstanding best practices on the UN 🇺🇳 17 SDGs; hand in hand with the United Nations Organization since 2020.
Cheers to Zapsap! Well done ✨”
Joaquin V. Boston
Chairman of Entreps
Copyright Nakayoshi Gakuen, NGO
I am Yuri Hirayama from Japan. I work as the Director and Global Section Chief for the Nakayoshi Gakuen School in Japan led by our CEO Yuichi Nakamura. I am passionate about education and sustainability. I teach math, science, and languages to children and adults from home while studying for my MBA at EGADE Business School.
The Nakayoshi Gakuen School generates activities around Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recently, the focus has been on assisting Africans to learn about disaster prevention, food, sports, fashion, and science in connection with sustainable Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. We do this by making durable sandals from used tires, climbing ropes, and clothes. These are for Africans who have to walk long distances on a daily basis to get water.
Let me explain how our story started. In 2021, a volcano erupted in Goma, DR Congo. Thousands of people fled their homes on foot. Unfortunately, many of them did not know how to deal with the natural disaster. They needed food, water, houses, shoes, and medical care. Since the devastation created an immediate need for action, we decided to build a Disaster Prevention School in Goma to offer knowledge to local people and protect their lives.
While our activities there helped a lot, water scarcity is still a big issue. Many women and children are required to walk long distances to get water while wearing cheap and dirty sandals or walking barefoot. Consequently, illnesses and infections from open cuts and wounds are frequent. To prevent this, we came up with the idea of making sandals ourselves from recycled materials such as tires, mountain climbing ropes, and clothes.
In Japan, there are approximately 1.5 million tires manufactured each year. Those tires once no longer safe to use are put into our waste management system, which will create more environmental harm. Our ZapSap project is to recycle the tires by making eco-friendly products. I found one motorcycle store which could give me used motorcycle tires for free. By using an electric cutter, scissors, tires, climbing ropes, and second-hand clothes, we are making sandals both for children and adults. The used tires become soles, and ropes or clothes are used as straps. Some recycled sandal designers gave me hints to improve the quality. To gain continuous improvement, we held running marathon events in Tokyo and asked Japanese eco-conscious people to wear our original tough sandals. The questionnaire that we conducted showed that out of 100 people, most of them agreed that our original sandals were durable, creative, and comfortable.
The next step is to teach Africans how to make their own sandals by using their local tires, clothes, and reusable items so that they can become self-reliant. If the local people master how to make sandals using the materials that they can get within their communities, they can reuse them and sustainably produce footwear and elevate their quality of life.
Tire and apparel industries generate large amounts of waste, which must be repurposed. In advanced countries such as in Japan and the United States, people keep throwing away tires and clothes although they are still usable. There are still some aged people who experienced poverty during the war and keep using the same materials for many years with a sense of “mottainai”, which describes how sad, unfortunate, and regrettable it is to throw some usable things away. I consider this sense of “mottainai” to be one of the Japanese virtues that should be valued and inherited.
We have shared this initiative with others, and people in Japanese communities started to give us a lot of valuable ballet costumes, dresses, and kimonos in addition to tires.
We wish to bring joy and smiles to a world with suffering and difficulties. We will continue to provide education for the people in developing countries to build self-reliance by repurposing recycled materials, creating jobs, and attaining a sustainable world.
Copyright Nakayoshi Gakuen, NGO
ZapSap is at an early stage. Our plan is to save the environment and help the African people by repurposing tires and clothing and creating sandals. This initiative has a wider impact. We are creating experiences for Japanese students to teach classes and contribute themselves in Uganda and DR Congo by helping them increase sensitivity, global awareness, and self worth. We are uniting the world with great traditional craftsmanship to help realize a sustainable world.
copyright Nakayoshi Gakuen, NGO