Inspiyr recently spoke with Santiago Halty, CEO of Senda Athletics, a fair-trade soccer equipment company that partners with non-profits as a way to give back through soccer. Along with sharing the story of Senda, Santiago spoke about the benefits of fair-trade products, how fair-trade products can impact a community, and gave advice to would-be social entrepreneurs about how to launch a successful business.
Inspiyr: Let’s hear the story of Senda. What is your background and how did it all begin?
Halty: I’m 28 years old, and was born in the US and raised in Buenos Aires. When I was four years old, my parents moved back to Argentina. I played soccer on the streets there almost every day. It was my way to connect with people. I didn’t watch much TV or play video games; I played soccer. When I graduated from high school in Buenos Aires, I decided to go to San Diego to attend college and study economics. I had lived with my family and over thirty cousins in Buenos Aires, so I became a little homesick in San Diego. Soccer helped me stay sane and connected me with my culture. It was my therapy. Some people go to the shrink; for me it was soccer.
While I was in school, I traveled to China, Latin America, and France, and playing soccer in those countries was a great way to interact with the locals. It’s how I connected with people while I was traveling and how I managed difficult times. This is how I fell in love with soccer and how it really changed my life.
After I graduated from college, I was getting ready to look for my first job and discovered that nobody knows where the soccer balls they used came from. The soccer ball transformed my life, and I wanted to make sure that the people who were making it were treated fairly, and weren’t kids. Nobody was making fair trade soccer balls the way I thought it could be done – changing the lives of people who make them, to those who want to change their community through soccer but don’t have the equipment to do it. That’s when I had my “aha” moment; “I’m going to launch a company that is going to think about the