Four-tour vet healing war-torn communities through business
Military veteran Matt Griffin will find an innovative way to help communities in the reconstruction of Afghanistan: training women and growing small businesses in the affected areas of the world.
Matthew Griffin his army fatigues after his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, but not his desire to serve. He returned to Afghanistan, with the hopes of making the American Dream a possibility for everyone in the country, especially the women.
He was, as Mark Cuban put it, “exporting the American Dream.”
How did Griffin do? By means of the flip-flops.
Griffin is the co-founder and CEO of Combat Flip Flips, a shoe company that gives with every purchase.
Griffin started the company with fellow-veteran, Donald Lee, and Griffin’s brother-in-law, Andy Sewrey.
They work together with the Aid Afghanistan for Education, an organization that provides secondary education for Afghan girls.
“For every product sold, we donate money to a girl in Aid Afghanistan for Education in the school for one day,” Griffin explained to Fox News.
School in Kabul, Afghanistan
The idea to fund education for Afghan women in the fight against terror in the mind. Their faith is simple: higher educated women do not allow their sons to join jihadist movements.
Griffin says that their company, from its inception to where it is now, has always focused on providing opportunities to people from poor countries. This business model has been shaped both by his years in and out of service.
The fourth generation service member story began when he went to the war in Afghanistan after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. He expected an all-out battle with the extremists, but it was a meeting place with the families that are in abject poverty.
Army Ranger Matthew Griffin
Griffin learned that people take jobs as fighters, because they are looking for a way to support their families. They turn to a life of extremism, because the serious lack of opportunities and employment.
“These children go to an endless supply of fighters against the United States, and really what we need to do is find an alternative for them for a job other than fighting against the US,” Griffin said.
When his service ended, he returned to Afghanistan in plainclothes, working for a Medical International. He found the areas that are most safe were those with entrepreneurs and flourishing of small businesses.
One of these small companies was a boot factory that employed 300 Afghans. Each of the workers received support from 5 to 13 members of the family. The social impact of the factory was tremendous. Unfortunately, the plan was to close the factory if the end of the war. The time, Griffin learned the heartbreaking news from the manager of the factory, he says, he looked to the left and saw a combat boot sole with a flip-flop thong.
The control of the Flip-Flop co-founder and army veteran Matthew Griffin gives the AK-47 flip-flop.
“It was ugly and it was cold, and I thought: ‘man, Americans would buy it,'” Griffin said. That was how the Combat Flip Flips the battle.
The attempt to keep the factory open was not an easy task and it ultimately failed. Griffin and Sewrey say that they were a victim of bait and switch by their equipment provider and were forced to move to a factory in Kabul. This factory lost their boat contract and could no longer cover the overhead. This left Griffin and Sewrey with material to make the boots, but not a factory for the production. Not willing to give up, they moved the production to Griffin’s garage in Washington state.
Knowing this was only a temporary solution, they searched for a new country to produce their boots — Colombia.
She found the parallels between Colombia and Afghanistan. Both are war-torn countries, the fight against a narco-finance-revolt. Griffin and Sewrey say the move of the Combat of Flip-Flops to Colombia, proved a help to the nation.
“The U.S. backed with a free trade agreement to give small companies a competitive advantage, and it works. We see the end of the FARC insurgency in Colombia after 50-something years and it is mainly by the industry and the trade,” said Griffin.
Griffin and Sewrey the story was featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where the billionaire Mark Cuban offered to invest in the company.