Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact
The Ukuku Ecolodge will generate a sustainable alternative for the community of Oyacachi (of
120 families), provide alternative employment opportunities that will reduce agriculture-related
environmental damage, help preserve and celebrate local culture and architecture, provide
visitors with authentic, life-enriching travel experiences, and help build cultural understanding.
This new model of community enterprise development will bring benefits to the local economy
through the community's ownership stake, which will grow over time and eventually reach
100%. It will also create an estimated 30 direct jobs and create or support 50 indirect jobs in the
local community, and in total, generate more than $370,000 in income per year for the
community and protected area.
The Andean Bear habitat-mapping project, being designed in cooperation with the
Foundation EcoCiencia, will provide environmental education to local residents and help
protect the bear’s habitat.
The lodge will be built using sustainably managed local materials, honor indigenous architecture,
and employ 100% renewable energy, natural waste recycling and low impact design and
construction. A tree planting, sustainable forestry and environment education program would
also be funded. The lodge will also support, in collaboration with the Global Alliance, tourism- related microenterprise development in the community.
Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing
The community’s economy is organized into four producer groups, tourism, handicrafts, dairy,
and trout farming. The tourism group operates a hot spring but is only able to generate about
$20,000 per year in income (from entrance fees), because there are currently minimal overnight
accommodations, so visitors only come for the day, don’t spend much time, and only spend an
average of $3.50 per visit.
Oyacachi has tremendous tourism resources, but because of its relatively remote location
(about 2.5 hours from Quito) day visits are difficult to organize and market. The development of
high quality accommodations would permit the development of an overnight market, and
catalyze the development of a variety of related businesses, including restaurants, guided
nature hikes, bird watching tours, horseback riding, mountain biking, and tours of the town,
including the trout farms, dairies, and artisan’s workshops.
The development of the lodge would also enhance income opportunities for the other three
producer groups. The dairy and trout farming groups would have a large new customer base
(hotel guests and the hotel itself) for its products. The handicrafts group, which is producing
quality woodwork that is too expensive for current visitors to Oyacachi, would be able to sell to
both higher spending tourists and the hotel.
Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?
The design process is already well underway.
A detailed, professionally conducted
market and financial analysis has been completed. Debt/equity and debt service coverage
ratios are well within acceptable limits, access to the area is very reasonable, the quality of the
product and attractions are world class, and there are several well defined markets that can be
Organizationally, the lodge will be professionally managed and marketed, by one of Ecuador’s
leading ecotourism and community tourism experts.
The major barriers to implementation, for this project and others being planned to replicate it are
access to credit and maximizing community ownership, a core objective of the model.
This is the next step we are taking, finance a person who can focus on othe required work with the community and putting together the next steps to figure: Debt financing access without 100 percent collateral (or more). There is very
little non-recourse project financing available for projects of this size. There are a number of
micro-financing programs available for very small loans, and commercial financing available for
very large (multi-million dollar) projects. This type of project is too large for microfinance and too
small for commercial banks (costs more to process and administer than the value of the loan).
Getting a grant would fill a critical gap.
The only reasonable way to significantly raise the ownership stakes of poor rural communities
(above what they can contribute in-kind), is grants. This grant program can create a model to
support rural wealth creation through sustainable tourism that can ideally be replicated by other
donors and international financial institutions.
Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible
Positive impacts from the Lodge will be measured quantitatively by the number of direct and
indirect jobs and microenterprises created or supported, the income received by the community
from lodge profits and visitor donations (a five percent voluntary contribution added onto hotel
bills to fund community health, education and environment projects), sales to the lodge by
producer groups, and sales to visitors (restaurants, guides, activities, handicrafts, etc.)
Impacts will be measured qualitatively by satisfaction of visitors with the tourism experience and
the attitudes of local residents toward the project and to tourism in general. Surveys of both
populations will be conducted by the lodge on a regular basis.
Power of Place will be demonstrated and supported by keeping the lodge and the experience as
natural and authentic as possible. Local materials and architecture will be used for construction.
The lodge will be built and operated on a carbon neutral, zero impact basis. Tree planting, the
purchase of carbon offsets, natural waste recycling, and renewable energy will be employed to
minimize the impacts of the project on the community, the protected area, and the planet.
If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?
We are discovering the path to create public private enterprises to operate ecotourism in Ecuador protected area system. We hope that the route enables other initiatives to start supporting the protected area system of Ecuador financially sustainable using ecotourism as a tool.