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.
Let’s hear the story of Senda. What is your background and how did it all begin?
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