According to the United States Agency for International Development, only three out of every 10 Guatemalan children make it past the sixth grade.
This is a statistic that two Memphis brothers, Jonathan and Matt Nason, are hoping to change through their company, Generation Watches. The newly founded watch company will contribute a portion of its proceeds to helping underprivileged kids in Guatemala complete grade school and receive tuition for college.
The brothers say they're helping Central American youth enjoy their adolescence before they have to deal with the burdens of adulthood.
"When we're funding education in some of these impoverished communities, we're giving [kids] their time back," Jonathan said. "We're giving them time to get educated. We're giving them time that keeps them from having to go work at a young age to support their family. They have time to be kids, and ultimately it allows them to get better jobs, which will eventually break the cycle of poverty."
Available in red, white, and black, the 38-millimeter watches are stainless steel, 30-meter water-resistant, and come with interchangeable straps.
The pre-launch sale for the watches began June 9th, and they are currently available for $48. After August 23rd, the watches will be sold at their regular price of $62.
The Nason brothers have traveled to Guatemala for several years and have helped build homes, distribute food and clothing, sponsor kids through school, and provide assistance to orphanages. But they felt there was much more they could do for the country.
The book Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie inspired them to create their own business and contribute a portion of the profits to disadvantaged youth. In the book, Mycoskie profiles the founding and evolution of TOMS, a company that provides a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes that's purchased.
"While reading Blake's book, I was inspired and encouraged as he detailed the difficult times the company went through in the beginning, but nonetheless, they were able to create a successful business model that included giving," Matt said. "I told Jonathan, 'If they were able to create a business model that gives back, we can too'."
More than 50 percent of Guatemala's population lives below the poverty level, surviving on less than $2 a day. The Nasons hope that providing some of the country's youth with an opportunity to obtain an education will help break the poverty cycle.
Memphis also faces educational and economic challenges, and the Nasons say they understand that some could question why they decided to support another country rather than their own city.
"Memphis is our home, and we love it," Jonathan said. "It's not that we are ignoring Memphis at all. We're going to bring Memphis in as soon as we have the funds to do that.
"When people buy our watches, we hope they enjoy a quality watch they can wear with just about anything. But, more importantly, we hope they know that they are helping a child get an education who otherwise might not have one," Matt said.