About us

What is the Smile Africa Project?

Collecting shoes with Japanese children to send to African children

Collecting shoes with Japanese children to send to African children

The idea of this project is simple: “Putting shoes on feet and smiles on faces in Africa”. We collect shoes which have been outgrown by their original owners and donate them to African children, who would otherwise have to live without shoes or with only very basic footwear.

Most Japanese people tend to throw away shoes which their children have outgrown, despite those shoes still being fit to wear. By collecting and reusing these shoes, our aim is to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable and responsible use and our impact on the environment.

We are delighted to have Naoko Takahashi, one of Japan's most famous marathon athletes, as the front-runner for our project. With her help, we aim to join together the smiles of children around the world, to give them the chance to dream, and to provide them with opportunities to build their own futures.

Mission statement To support African countries To support African countries and to contribute to the resolution of environmental problems.

Mission statement
To support African countries and to contribute to the resolution of environmental problems.

Using the simple act of running as a tool to foster hope for a brighter future,
by bringing smiles to children's faces and contributing to African countries.

As a developing continent, Africa continues to face much poverty. At the same time, people around the world are searching for clues which can help to resolve environmental problems.

Surroundings where children can run with a smile

This project was prompted by our conviction that this is one of the clues that can help to resolve environmental problems. Many children around the world are in need of shoes. For children, living without shoes is unsanitary and means that they are exposed to the risk of tetanus and other infectious diseases. However impoverished and harsh their surroundings might be, we believe that giving a child a pair of shoes to go running in is enough to help them find hope for the future.

Here in Japan, however, shoes which are still useable are often thrown away without being recycled, simply because they have been worn. “Mottainai” is a word used in Japan to express regret at wastefulness. We want to use this cultural idea to help resolve poverty and environmental problems.

Africa is a place filled with wonderful wisdom; it is a vast continent, the birthplace of the modern human, a place of rich biological diversity and culture. This project is intended to work as a platform to inform as many people as possible that Africa can provide us with plenty of hints for resolving the multiple problems the world faces.

Our wish: to bring smiles back to the faces of children around the world.

Where we work Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya)

Where we work

Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya)

Kibera is a suburb of Nairobi, in Kenya, and the biggest slum in Africa. Here, an estimated 0.8 million to 1.5 million people live in an area the same size as Central Park in New York, and that number is still increasing.

Kibera is home not only to adults but also to many children, who are living in poverty or on the streets.

The brilliant smiles of these children hide a harsh reality.

Along with pressing problems of food scarcity and unsanitary living conditions, many of these children are forced to wear adult-sized flip-flops or go barefoot, exposing themselves to the risk of infectious diseases like tetanus, as well as to other dangers.

Many Japanese NGOs and other aid groups are working locally in Kibera. The Smile Africa Project works with these organizations to protect the children of Kibera, by donating shoes that will protect their feet, which are the foundation of a healthy life. Above all, we hope that by donating shoes we can give these children the experience of being able to run freely, with all their hearts.



Shoe collection program - environmental contribution in Japan

· Recruiting supporters to help collect shoes
· Collecting children's shoes which have been outgrown
· Current objective is to collect 100,000 pairs of shoes in total (to be increased periodically)
· Collection is carried out with the cooperation of a home delivery service company
· Providing schools with an environmental education program
· Organizing marathon meets and event support

Events: marathon events and shoe donations - social contributions in African countries

· Donating shoes for children in African countries
· Organizing and providing support for marathon meets in communities in African countries

Smile Africa Project Office

Smile Africa Project Executive Committee
Address: Mikiji Akashicho bldg. 6F 11-15 Akashicho Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0044, JAPAN
Address: 20th Floor, Anniversary Towers, University Way, P.O.Box 58402, Nairobi, Kenya
Official PR magazine
SOTOKOTO (monthly)
Business Contents
Project promotion
Shoe collection
Marathon event management
Cultural introductions through Africa, charitable activities, etc.
Annual Report
Click here to view annual reports (Japanese)