One Way That Money Truly Is Speach – Planeterra

You have heard of voting with your dollars, well, the same concept holds true with the dollars you spend while traveling. By choosing where to go you choose where your dollars go. The following article makes the case for the non-profiint group Planererra. Have a look and take it into consideration next time the travel bug begins to bite.
Exciting news! We are doing the Rickshaw Run in January 2015 – a 3,500km race across India on a tuktuk – to raise funds for charity! We’ve introduced you to one of the charities we’re working with, Cool Earth, now it’s turn to introduce Planeterra, the main non-profit we’re working with.

When we first signed up for the Rickshaw Run and were given a choice on which charity to work with, we knew that we wanted to work with the Planeterra Foundation. Having worked with G Adventures for four years now, we’ve long known about the company’s non-profit foundation and wanted to partner up with them and see how we could give back. [If you’re interested in donating, please head on to this link: WildJunket’s Fundraising Campaign.]

What we like about Planeterra is that it’s a non-profit (i.e. all of the money you donate to them goes straight to their grassroot businesses and projects worldwide) and that it uses the power of travel to provide these sustainable solutions. Tourism is one of the only industries able to create opportunity to some of the most rural places in the world, and the Planeterra Foundation believes that by harnessing the power of travel, we all can truly change the world.

How Different is Planeterra from Other Non-Profits

As part of the global travel company G Adventures, Planeterra develops projects near high-volume tourist destinations, plugging in the tour operator’s travelers to sustain them. Planeterra partners with local nonprofit organizations and social enterprises who understand the local culture and can identify local needs.

As a business-backed non-profit, they offer something different than traditional modes of giving, which are charity driven and provide only short-term aid and relief. They can actually make local businesses successful and create jobs — the most powerful tool proven to alleviate poverty. Where other non-profits think on a 3–5 year time horizon to generate positive results, their impact is more immediate through the market driven approach; usually within the first year.

A Success Story: New Delhi Streetkids Tourism Training

Since 2009, Planeterra and G Adventures have been financing a youth tourism-training program in New Delhi, Streetkids Project, through The City Walk Tour. Through this program, their partner Salaam Baalak Trust trains youth to lead insider tours around New Delhi for tourists. It acts as a means for the youth to earn an income for the first time and practice English, with a portion allocated towards their college or university tuition.

This program is included in G Adventures’ India trips representing 4,000 travelers per year, and they have increased the revenue of this program from 300,000 Indian Rupees ($5,000 USD) to 1.5 million Indian Rupees ($15,000 USD), a 300% increase in income in just one year. These funds are used for the most urgent needs of the organization (such as maintenance costs of the safe houses, salaries for full time). Planeterra, along with Salaam Baalak Trust, currently provide vocational training, educational scholarships, healthcare, counseling and basic needs to over 5,000 children in New Delhi.

New Project in India: Women on Wheels

Planeterra recently launched a new project called Women on Wheels to help provide job opportunities for women and to empower them. Many women and girls in India are often marginalized, underserved, and underprivileged. Planeterra is providing resources, such as vehicles, to women who have been trained by their ground partners, The Azad Foundation, through a commercial chauffeur training program  Their ground partners are training poor women from surrounding slum regions to obtain their drivers license, and become certified commercial chauffeurs for other women or couples.

This 8 to 10 month course ends with the beneficiaries receiving their first driver’s licence and then getting the resources to sart a new job.  Over 65 women have been trained in this program and they currently have 11 vehicles on the road.  They are helping Azad Foundation increase these numbers both through additional vehicle purchase as well as providing an ongoing market of single, female, travelers from G Adventures.

Women on Wheels

To find out more, we are definitely hoping to visit these two projects when we’re in Delhi for the Rickshaw Run. In the meantime, we’ve caught up with Planeterra’s Program and Communications Manager, Adrienne Lee, to learn how the foundation works and how funds are spent.

1. Why did G Adventures’ founder Bruce Poon Tip decide to set up Planeterra?

Bruce started Planeterra as a way for our travelers and staff to give back to the communities we travel to and visit.  Travelers often make a meaningful connection with the communities that they visit, and upon returning home, many want a way to stay connected and to continue to support these places.  Bruce decided to set up Planeterra to become that vehicle and long-term connection.


2. How does Planeterra use the power of travel to help local communities?

We understand that the tourism industry is one of the greatest wealth distributors and job creators in the world, second only to the oil industry.  Tourism is also one of the only industries that is able to reach some of the most rural and under-served people in the word.  The tourism industry also utilizes many transferable skills that individuals, who may not have benefited from formalized education, can access, to obtained dignified job opportunities and careers.

By working with non-profits, charities, NGOs, and social enterprises as our ground partners, we are able to develop programs within the hospitality industry, and link these organizations to a market, that in turn becomes, often their first revenue generating source that is repatriated towards their greater health, education and conservation programs.  This allows the organization to also be less dependent on traditional forms of aid such as grants and donations.  We believe in trade not aid, by providing capacity building, job creation, and customers, we are creating healthier, more cohesive communities.

3. By traveling with G Adventures, do travelers contribute to Planeterra indirectly through the trip fee?

G Adventures covers all of Planeterra’s administrative and operative costs, so each trip is helping to invest in the communities in which we travel.  On top of this, our mission is to connect our ground partners and include these programs directly into G Adventures’ itineraries.  With each trip that has an included project, there is a built in donation to that specific project in the trip costs.  We do welcome donations — these allow us to start new projects in new regions, or are used for our current partners’ most urgent needs.


4. Why is Planeterra’s impact more immediate than other traditional modes of giving?

Because G Adventures moves over 100,000 travelers a year, we are able to harness this market and connect it directly to the organizations we work with.  There are so many examples of where community based tourism programs are built and then fail because no one comes.  So much time, energy, and investment from the local community has been put into these programs which will ultimately fail because of the lack of customers.  It is the classic “If you build it, they will come model.”

We work with G Adventures to place projects in locations that we either have a high movement of travelers, or that we project will have a high movement of travelers in the future.  Then we can guarantee a customer base.  For example, we recently built a community owned and run restaurant in the Sacred Valley, Peru, with the Inter-American Development Bank/ Multilateral Investment Fund.  We completed construction, conducted intense training and capacity building in four months, started piloting lunches, and were generating a profit on the project less than 6 months after construction completion.  We were able to do this because we included a lunch at this restaurant on all of our Sacred Valley tours.  Now proceeds from this lunch are being reinvested into a community health fund, and the first thing the community wants to do is invest this in more accessible education tools and resources for their children.


5. You have been running the New Delhi Streetkids Tourism Training program for a while, how has this project benefited the local community and what results have you seen?

G Adventures was the first responsible tourism operator to include The City Walk program on our India trips that spend time in Delhi.  This was a great program that our project partners were running, but again, they were relying on walk-in travelers and word of mouth to keep the program going.  Once we included this project into G Adventures’ itinerary, we immediately doubled their customer base.  They have been able to use the proceeds and donations that now flow in from a constant stream of travelers on urgent items that the outside grants they receive do not cover — these are items such as fixing the leaking roof in one of their five shelter homes, providing full-time salaries for locally employed social workers, etc.  The confidence in the youth that are benefitting has also increased.

The youth guides are now able to pay for their college or university tuition, and many see our CEOs as role models and want to be part of the tourism industry in the future.  Because we have set times that our travellers are in Delhi, the organization can also better plan the City Walk and work better with the youths schedules and classes.  There is a sense of pride in many of these youth having come from some of the underserved places in India, and rising up to hold their first job and paying for their own secondary school tuition.  Some of the graduates have moved on to do their Masters overseas, it’s been quite the success story.

Read more on Planeterra:

Our friends, Audrey and Daniel from Uncornered Market, recently visited a new Planeterra Foundation project — the Masaai Stoves and Solar Project in Tanzania. G Adventures travelers who are on safari in Tanzania have a portion of their tour fees go towards buying and installing a clean cookstove for a family in a Maasai village. The travelers then have the opportunity to visit the village, see a stove installation, and learn more about why this simple stove design can be life-changing, especially for children. Read more about this project on their blog.

Will you join us and help raise funds for Planeterra?

To thank you for your donation, we are giving away 13 prizes to 13 lucky donors including a free trip to India! All donors will be automatically entered into the giveaway. This fundraiser ends on 31st December 2014, so hurry!

Disclaimer: All images above are from G Adventures and Planeterra.

The post Planeterra — Harnessing the Power of Travel to Change the World appeared first on Wild Junket.

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