Abundance Journeys

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Abundance Journeys

Yangon, Myanmar
a
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

In summary, Abundance Journeys addresses both TAP's financial needs as well as those of our partner organizations. These organizations play an important role in civil society development, especially among youth who lead many of them, yet they constantly face financial obstacles. While this may be somewhat par for the course in this sector, we see that by acting as a bridge by which local groups can connect to Western supporters, we can help them supplement if not entirely overcome their budgetary shortfalls.

TAP has actively promoted and conducted trainings on social enterprise to familiarize CBO partners with the concept, and Abundance Journeys is a way for them to start getting practical experience. An investment of $10,000 would enable us to train a core group of community guides, develop our website, and pay a stipend to two local university students as interns for one year. These interns will become assistant guides, work on limited online marketing and assist with communications and administrative tasks.

In 2013-14, we plan to conduct 5-10 short trips per year with no more than 6 guests per trip. In 2015, our vision is to scale this model up greatly by developing an online portal through which travelers can find, communicate with and make plans to meet and be guided by carefully screened and trained youth CBO staff around the world. TAP sees Abundance Journeys as an initiative to foster deeper connections between travelers and grass roots organizations worldwide.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Abundance Journeys is a new social enterprise initiative established by The Abundance Project, a small international organization cultivating sustainability leadership through education and cross-cultural exposure for youth leaders in Myanmar/Burma, Sri Lanka, and the Thai-Burma border. Abundance Journeys has evolved as a way to address three specific financial setbacks commonly faced by local NGOs and CBOs in TAP's network of over 80 such organizations, many led by youth and ethnic minorities addressing issues of environmental sustainability, human rights, social justice and reconciliation. 1) Lack of ability to build individual donor relations and international support networks - due to lack of online presence, limited opportunities to communicate and raise awareness across borders, and ineffectiveness of fund raising locally due to location in poverty ridden countries. 2) Very low staff salaries ($100US monthly or lower), which discourages local youth from pursuing careers in social development sectors; this also damages staff retention and leads otherwise socially committed development workers to sacrifice their dream of working in development. 3) A tendency among the institutional donors that usually fund local groups to fund them on a project basis only, according to strict donor priorities. This makes it difficult for local groups to fund their own priorities, secure general operating funds, and invest in long-term growth and organizational development.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Abundance Journeys combines high-end, adventurous travel experiences with philanthropic, community-based, sustainable tourism. By collaborating with our partners in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Sri Lanka, we are able to connect travelers to local community leaders in an unusual way. Trips are designed and guided by TAP staff, who possess an in depth knowledge of the country. Furthermore, local CBO leaders are contracted on a per diem basis to serve as educational community guides (ECGs), sharing in-depth perspectives on social issues and showing guests unique local sites. ECGs are paid $60 for a half day of instructing and $100 for a full day. These educational experiences are interwoven with enjoying the highest quality transportation, hotels, food and itineraries that any high end traveler expects. An extra $500-$1000 fund is reserved from the tour group’s budget and at the end of the trip, the group decides how they would like to allocate it toward general operating funds for one or more of the groups they have encountered on the trip. TAP encourages and works with the travelers to see themselves as advocates and fund raisers for the local groups long after they return home. In addition to addressing the general problems mentioned above, Abundance Journeys also addresses TAP’s own financial needs to operate our own projects and trainings. Finally, TAP manages carbon offsets for guests to ensure that travel is done in an optimally sustainable manner.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

TAP led a 5 day trip through Myanmar in November 2012 for an individual who was interested in becoming more involved with international philanthropy. The results of this short exchange were striking. First, the guest remarked that the trip was the most personally and spiritually uplifting travel experience of his life, and wants to get deeply involved in social change work in Myanmar as a result. The TAP guide and the guest visited ten local organizations, four of whom sent staff to help guide and who each received donations of $60, $500, $150 and $150 for 1/2 - 1 day of work. Of the four local partners, one is a member of a taxi collective made up of former political prisoners. Another is the director a local youth organization working on food justice and sustainability; the donation helped him travel abroad for the first time to pursue an internship in sustainable agriculture. The third beneficiary is a local YMCA which oversees an umbrella group of over 50 CBOs but is badly in need of general operating funds. The fourth is a rural monastic school and orphanage which cares for 300 children and relies on small individual donations to operate. The guest was compelled especially by the work of one local organization and is currently working with the board of directors of a U.S. based group with a similar mission to build a long term sponsorship relationship. Finally $2500 was donated to TAP, with the guest proposing various other collaborations and visions for funding our work in the future.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are various organizations and companies working to offer socially conscious tourism. Thus far, these groups are not active in Myanmar and do not have an on-the-ground presence like TAP, which is quite well known for giving capacity building support to local youth organizations. So we would not anticipate any competition in terms of raising our local partners' interest in this project as it grows. TAP's main need for Abundance Journeys to grow is to establish a small but active, word of mouth network of travelers who would like to experience the services we are offering. We do have a plan to scale up and market our services publicly by 2015, but for the next 2 years we hope to run 5-10 short trips per year, with no more than 8 guests per trip.

Comments

Jessica Olney's picture

Hello fellow innovators! We are growing our organization's business, a travel company that merges high-end tours in Asia with philanthropic, community-based tourism.

We would love to connect with entrepreneurs, investors and community organizations working in sectors such as sustainability and sustainable development, travel-related social enterprise, and capacity building initiatives with local grass roots partners.