Juggle the World kicks off: soccer startup founded by South Tahoe alum begins crowdfunding campaign
Soccer has always been a part of Leon Abravanel’s life — now he wants to use the game as a tool to promote social change. The former South Tahoe soccer standout founded Juggle the World with that goal in mind, a startup company that aims to sell fair trade soccer balls with a “buy one, give one” business model.
“For every ball that is bought, we give one away to a youth in inner cities,” Abravanel said. “We hope to get kids in the inner city playing soccer and give them an avenue to get out of their situation to make something of their lives.”
Juggle the World began a crowdfunding campaign Monday at http://www.gofundme.com/juggletheworld with the hopes of raising $15,000 by Dec. 15 to get the business off the ground and order the initial inventory of 1,000 balls. During the past three months, members of the nine-person company have collected and distributed more than 5,000 pieces of equipment in areas within inner city Los Angeles.
“It’s an exciting time right now,” Abravanel said.
Abravanel graduated from South Tahoe High in 2004, and played soccer collegiately at San Diego and Denver before a three-year professional career. It was during this time that the initial idea for Juggle the World surfaced — he came up with it while juggling a squishy ball designed to look like a globe with his teammates — as his relationship with the game continued.
“I did a lot of traveling with soccer, and that’s where I got to see the true power of soccer — the power of what it can do to communities, to people’s lives,” Abravanel said. “There’s so much potential behind the game.”
Later, Abravanel came up with the idea for a company that sells fair trade soccer balls with a business model famously synonymous with TOMS shoes. For each soccer ball purchased, one will be donated to inner city youth in the United States — eventually the focus will include international giving. Juggle the World was born, and in the past year it has been steadily progressing.
“Soccer is becoming more popular — it’s taking that momentum and providing the equipment and the structure to help these kids reach their full potential in the game,” Abravanel said.
For Abravanel, the company fully took root in the streets adjacent to the World Cup in Brazil this past summer. He took donated soccer equipment and balls hand-painted to look like globes with him to Brazil, and found a home for them at a school run by The More Project.
“That was the moment that I realized it was relevant and something that was needed in the world,” he said. “The kids were dying over the soccer gear — we gave them soccer equipment and they were over the moon.”
Abravanel said a key element of the company is that the soccer balls are fair trade. He has filed for it to become B-Corporation, a socially responsible company that considers society and environment in addition to profit.
“The importance of manufacturing fair trade is that we might be helping kids in the inner cities, but who are we exploiting on the front end with the people who are manufacturing? It’s a whole circle that we’re trying to create,” Abravanel said.
Abravanel has started the company in the Los Angeles area, where he currently lives. If things go well, he’d eventually like to bring it back to his hometown of Lake Tahoe.
Juggle the World is online at http://www.juggletheworld.com. More information about the company can be found on Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @juggletheworld and on its YouTube page.
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