News

CFLI SOUTH AFRICA & GOOD WORK FOUNDATION

By Evie Ndhlovu, Program Manager Europe, Middle East, Africa

In late 2019, I set out on my very first research trip for a new Planeterra partner in Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa. It had only taken a few months to narrow down leads, through phone calls and favours from old friends, but one name stood out, the Good Work Foundation (GWF), a campus where youth were receiving digital skills and more recently Tourism and Hospitality training. Once there, I got to experience first hand the drive, the organization, and the excitement that filled the Hazyview campus. The training that was offered was done so for free, to young people whose villages surrounded the famed Kruger National Park. In their villages, young people did not have many opportunities, and the easiest way to succeed to them was leaving the villages for the big cities, menial occupations in the richer surrounding neighbourhoods, or a life of crime.

The Good Work Foundation was working to change this, by offering 25 opportunities for training in tourism and hospitality every year. This meant that 25 young people would receive the knowledge needed for them to find occupations in the lodges located in KNP and also entry level positions in these lodges after they completed their training. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 25 could receive this life-changing education, and this was not enough. It was not until Mr T, a former student and now facilitator at GWF, offered me a cup of coffee, that a light bulb lit up in my head. Coffee! What if a cup of coffee could bring more opportunities to youth and women in the villages around the Kruger? Coffee was going to be the link that would bring together two organizations to use tourism to increase impact in the villages around the KNP. 

 

CREATING A TOURISM EXPERIENCE

The Good Work Foundation’s main campus is located in Hazyview, right on the road leading to the popular Phabeni and Paul Kruger entrance gates of KNP. It’s a location where hundreds of travellers pass by daily headed into the famous park to sightsee and game view. And through a partnership with Planeterra, an express breakfast service could be developed to offer travellers a hot, or cold beverage on their way into the park. The ripple effects of this express service would be endless. The income could be used to grow class sizes and include more local youth to receive the tourism and hospitality training. The breakfast service could generate income that could be used as stipends to the students who are often breadwinners in their homes. It could also be an opportunity for employment to the alumni of the academy who chose to stay. Moreover, this could be a practical training center for the students where they receive hands-on experience in the tourism industry. With all set in place, the pandemic came and without travel, the idea of the breakfast service was put on the back burner, until the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) opportunity of 2021 came be.

The CFLI is a prestigious Canadian funding opportunity that sees many organiZations yearly seeking to achieve key projects in their missions. When the call for South Africa proposals came in June of 2021, our first thought was our partners in Kruger. With a tough year behind us due to COVID-19, we asked GWF if this opportunity would be one to jointly pursue, and without hesitation, they got up and got to work on a proposal. 

In order to continue and expand their mission without large donor dependency, GWF was ready to pick up the conversation on the breakfast service. This service was to be managed and beneficial to their Tourism and Hospitality Academy, as it would provide hands on training and a stipend to the students, allow GWF to grow their class sizes without donor dependency and finally bring to the tourism industry of the Kruger, a fresh innovative service with purpose. And just like that, the proposal was deemed successful and we got right to work. 

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International non-profit Planeterra expands Board of Directors

“This expanded board of directors reflects an exciting new era, as well as Planeterra’s ambitious goals to see more travellers, travel companies, and destinations prioritising community tourism..."

Non-profit organisation Planeterra has appointed five women as members of its international board of directors.

They were chosen for their commitment to community tourism and experience in the fields of international development, conservation, and tourism.

Planterra said they also reflect the organisation’s commitment to “embracing and amplifying diverse voices, including those of women and indigenous people”.

The new board members are Gloria Fluxà Thienemann, vice-chair and chief sustainability officer of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts; Deirdre Shurland, a policy consultant with many years of experience with various United Nations bodies; Karen Ziffer, chief development officer at the non-profit RARE; Seleni Matus, executive director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University; and Meenu Vadera, founder of Azad Foundation, based in India, and representing Planeterra’s Women With Wheels partnership.

Jamie Sweeting, Planeterra president, said: “Planeterra’s work has grown exponentially over the last 20 months, to the point where we are working with a diverse portfolio of corporate partners and destinations, and have expanded our work to impact more than 800 community tourism enterprises through the Global Community Tourism Network.

“This expanded board of directors reflects an exciting new era, as well as Planeterra’s ambitious goals to see more travellers, travel companies, and destinations prioritising community tourism

“We consciously prioritised the appointment of female directors for this expanded board, for a number of reasons – not least of all because Planeterra aims to improve the lives of more than two million women by 2030, and we want our board of directors to understand and amplify our vision for women’s empowerment worldwide.”

The new appointments join current members: Zeina Gedeon, Jody Hamade, Jamie Sweeting, and Roula Poon Tip, plus board chair and Planeterra founder, Bruce Poon Tip, who is also the founder of G Adventures.

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. Planeterra is an independent, non-profit organization and registered U.S. charity using community tourism to tackle poverty. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org and follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace

Senior Manager – Development & Communications 

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The 2020 Impact Report is Here

THE YEAR TRAVEL WAS PAUSED

We are honoured to share Planeterra’s 2020 Impact Report. This report is filled with challenges, triumphs and stories of impact. Despite worldwide lockdowns, Planeterra, our supporters and communities were able to turn travel into impact from home.

Dear friends and supporters,

Planeterra started 2020 on a high, having set our sights on making a bigger impact with the successful launch of Project 100 and poised to be positively impacting at least 100 communities by year’s end. In January and February our team was travelling across the globe visiting community tourism enterprises in the USA, Egypt, South Africa, Argentina, Thailand, and Italy. However, other partners in places like Italy and China soon had to close their doors due to government-issued stay-at-home orders, with the spread of COVID-19 monopolizing news coverage worldwide.  

Then, the COVID-19 global pandemic was declared and within days, we were grounded in our homes under various degrees of lockdown, and our work to forge new partnerships ground to a halt. We immediately pivoted to supporting our 85 partners now facing an undetermined amount of time without an income. We deployed a needs assessment survey, and began fundraising to support emergency relief grants for the communities we work alongside. Our dedicated field team took calls with communities unsure what the pandemic meant, sent World Health Organization guidelines to keep people safe, and acted as a shoulder to lean on for countless individuals and their enterprises. Based in seven regions around the world, we became a dedicated network for sustained support and mentorship in the early days – but this would grow to mean so much more in the coming months.

We were overwhelmed by the immediate, sustained, and generous support for our Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign, which raised over $100,000 CAD between April and July. You helped us provide funds for medicine, food parcels, community gardens, greenhouses and other income-generating initiatives to 30 communities in 25 countries.  

The virtual support of our partners proved equally as important this year, as we channelled our efforts into publishing the Planeterra Learning Hub, an online site exclusively for our partners featuring over 50 training modules, worksheets and instructional videos in both Spanish and English. Our team planned training that partners had identified in our needs assessment survey including marketing, income diversification, and business planning. We began conducting monthly training sessions, fostering peer-to-peer learning amongst our partner communities and supporting them through strengthening their enterprises for a more sustainable future. Many focussed successfully on domestic markets, sold handmade face masks online, conducted virtual events, fundraised from their supporters, and returned to subsistence farming and other revenue sources while they awaited the return of travel. 

We watched the tourism industry struggle to survive for the majority of the year, from our community tourism partners to our travel industry allies. Many of our supporters, colleagues, and friends lost their jobs in these challenging times. Some days, the magnitude of the pandemic and the sadness we felt for individuals, their families, and communities was overwhelming. Our small team leant on each other – virtually – during these times, increasing our number of team gatherings and check-ins, reaching inward to one another for support, while relentlessly and passionately campaigning for Planeterra’s vision of a world where community tourism is put at the centre of travel’s recovery. 

The Planeterra community continued to show their support and rallied together in September, when we launched our first Planeterra Trek Challenge. Together, more than 550 participants set off to symbolically trek to Everest Base Camp, walking the 85,000 steps around their neighbourhoods in more than 30 countries while fundraising over CA$100,000 for Planeterra’s work. 

As we look back on 2020, we feel immense gratitude to all those we worked alongside, the volunteers who lent a hand, our monthly donors who gave us confidence in our work, and to all those who supported us both big and small.

We wish you all the best in 2021, and are hopeful for the return of travel. But we do not wish for a return to the status quo. We will be working tirelessly to ensure communities are put at the centre of travel’s reemergence, that travel companies, governments, and travellers all recognize the importance of community tourism as a means to empower communities, and most importantly, that communities receive the training and support they need to thrive. 

From all of us, 

Jamie, Rhea, Alanna, Crystal, Carlota, Rosselin, Joel, Laura, Evie, Tung and Priyanka 

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CFLI Project in Sri Lanka comes to a successful close

Planeterra & Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives

In June of 2020, Planeterra was awarded a grant from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), for a project focussed on increasing domestic demand for Sthree’s handicraft and cafe has come to a close! The CFLI is a program designed to support small-scale, high-impact projects in developing countries, which align with Global Affairs Canada’s thematic priority areas for engagement.

This month marks the end of Planeterra’s project with the Candian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). We began working with CFLI in June with our partners at the Women’s Development Centre (WDC) in Sri Lanka. The goal of this project was to empower women entrepreneurs dependent on international tourism for their income, to better access the domestic markets in order to reduce the volatility of their household income to changes in the tourism market.

We are excited to share that this project has equipped 110 women entrepreneurs and 23 employees from the WDC in Sri Lanka with increased knowledge of business management, improved handicraft skills, and a better understanding of domestic market channels and trends. 

These trainings have renewed a sense of confidence within the entrepreneurs to capture new markets with the right products, and a new confidence in the WDC team to lead the entrepreneurs to success and better tap into online markets to support the sale of their products,” says Rhea Simms, Senior Programs Manager of Planeterra.

Handicraft quality training was conducted on shoe making, batik dying, candle making, crocheting, soft toy making, saree blouse making, artisanal soap making, packaging and food dehydration. All skills training activities were identified through market assessments conducted to better understand local purchasing trends. Some entrepreneurs went on to receive mentorship which allowed them to put their new skills into action and develop their very first business plans. Marketing and social media training played a large role as well, as the world becomes increasingly online. 

While COVID-19 impacted some of the sessions, the local trainers and entrepreneurs were quick to improvise using Whatsapp to communicate and participate in lessons remotely. Recordings of training sessions were completed to keep the program moving along effectively and ensure that the learnings could continue beyond the project period.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the project was a success with over 160 people benefiting from the project, 149 of those being women. While it is still early to know the full impact of this project, six women entrepreneurs have developed brand new products for the domestic market – two of them related to food dehydration. Four partnerships were developed to increase sales and skills for women entrepreneurs. Lastly, three entrepreneurs were able to secure large orders through effective marketing both direct and through social media, with differentiated products based on project learnings. 

 

We are proud to have been a part of such an impactful initiative and we know that it will continue to make a difference for women entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka. 

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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Panama commits to bringing travel back better with launch of PACT – Panama Alliance for Community Tourism

New initiative designed to improve well-being of residents, visitors and the environment

This week the Panama Government, in partnership with the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), Fundación Natura, and non-profit Planeterra, the global leader in community tourism enterprise development, announced a joint venture to work with communities across Panama to build community tourism experiences that improve the well-being of residents, visitors, and the environment, celebrating the natural beauty and must-have cultural experiences the country offers. 

The new partnership aims to reposition Panama as a destination focused on incredible cultural immersion experiences for travellers that leave a positive footprint on the country in terms of supporting local people and businesses, and ensures traveller dollars stay in-destination. 

“The launch of the Panama Alliance for Community Tourism (PACT) is a major break-through in the implementation of Panama’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan”, explained Ivan Eskildsen, the Panamanian Minister of Tourism. 

“In our Master Plan, we have prioritized the development of tourism experiences focused on the ‘discerning traveler’, a global trend that is demanding more and more authentic experiences that benefit local communities, and their surrounding environment. We are excited that PACT will accelerate the implementation of this strategy, with local and global partners that will help Panama consolidate world-class community tourism experiences, that showcase the extraordinary wealth of our natural and cultural heritage.”

The partners involved in the PACT initiative plan to work closely with at least 10 communities and their tourism enterprises in order to assist them with income diversification, product development, and customer service. Long-term sustainability will be a focus for the initiative’s pilot projects, which will include training local counterparts in Planeterra’s highly successful community-led tourism development methodology and local communities in all aspects of the tourism value chain, including business planning, regenerative agriculture and resiliency building in order to ensure each community is set up for success.  

“Planeterra is excited to work with APTSO, Fundación Natura and the Ministry of Tourism to launch this groundbreaking community tourism initiative,” says Jamie Sweeting, president of Planeterra. 

“We look forward to bringing Planeterra’s proven approach to empowering community-led tourism to Panama and, in the process, strengthening local partners to lead this initiative forward.”

“The PACT partners share a vision for using proven solutions to put host communities at the heart of tourism in Panama,” explained Annie Young, president of the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO). “Through close collaboration, we can achieve the goals of  the Tourism Vision 2025 of the Panama  Sustainable Tourism Master Plan and become globally recognized as a world-class sustainable tourism destination while supporting the wellbeing of our communities.”

For more information, please visit www.planeterra.org  and www.aptso.org.

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About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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Deepening impact alongside Canada’s Fund for Local Initiatives in Sri Lanka

Planeterra & Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives

In June of 2020, Planeterra was awarded a grant from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), for a project focussed on increasing domestic demand for Sthree’s handicraft and cafe. The CFLI is a program designed to support small-scale, high-impact projects in developing countries, which align with Global Affairs Canada’s thematic priority areas for engagement. The program is directed at projects conceived and designed predominantly by local partners.

At Planeterra, we imagine a world where funds from the travel industry flow freely to individuals and their families, changing lives and entire communities in the process. As the global travel industry stood still for much of 2020, we pivoted to ensure we made an even deeper impact with our partners at the Women’s Development Centre (WDC) in Kandy, Sri Lanka through accessing Canadian government funding that has helped their artisan community diversify income sources and cater to a local market.

Planeterra first forged a partnership with the WDC in 2017, when we provided them with funding to renovate the Sthree Craft Shop & Cafe. We also connected them to travel industry partners, who started bringing tour groups for a meal at the cafe in 2018. Within the first two years of the cafe’s reopening, Sthree’s sales had increased 400%, and they were able to begin investing more funds into their network of over 170 entrepreneurs, 9 cafe workers, 5 differently-abled server trainees, and support the running cost of WDC’s shelter for abused women. 

In June of 2020, Planeterra was awarded a grant from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), for a project focussed on increasing domestic demand for Sthree’s handicraft and cafe. Goals for the project included increasing domestic demand for artisan handicrafts by 50%, training 25 female entrepreneurs in quality control, and creating e-learning resources for product development. With the main activities of the project now complete, Sthree Project Manager, Ramona Stephen is looking back and examining the success of the endeavour. 

“Entrepreneurs who previously focused on catering to tourists, now have adjusted their products as well as their prices to match local customers through various market research and surveys carried out,” explained Ramona. “Entrepreneurs have also had the opportunity to polish their skills and acquire new skills in order to cater to this customer segment.”

Tea tasting class for local entrepreneurs.

A key component of the project was the multiple training sessions, both socially-distanced and in-person when safe, and online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Ramona, these training sessions helped “boost entrepreneur confidence” and put a focus on “marketing, pitching, costing, networking and packaging.” Perhaps one of the greatest long-term impacts of the project will be the sustainability of online training, which shall assist entrepreneurs in months and years to come, as well as the business plans developed by entrepreneurs – something they previously did not possess.

“The project has overall upskilled entrepreneurs and provided Sthree with tools to strengthen entrepreneur capacities while creating a sustainable structure to provide entrepreneurs with necessary services to economically empower women,” said Ramona. 

Planeterra’s Regional Representative based in India, Priyanka Singh, oversaw the management of this particular project, and has been overwhelmed by the positive impacts of the activities undertaken, particularly considering the timing of the program. 

“This project is special as it shows how Planeterra and its partners are adapting to the changing times,” said Priyanka. “It showed the spirit of perseverance even in times of adversity and was inspiring to see how they innovated and ensured that maximum entrepreneurs could benefit from such a program.”

Local entrepreneurs at a packaging workshop.

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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Planeterra’s Virtual Everest Base Camp Trek A Resounding Success

Over 550 people on 62 teams joined to support community tourism around the world rebuild and recover post-COVID

The Planeterra Trek Challenge culminated on World Tourism Day last Sunday, and a celebration was in order as the non-profit raised over US$78,000 to help community tourism organizations worldwide who are suffering from a lack of travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge was for individuals and teams to trek 85,000 steps, approximately the distance to Everest Base Camp, celebrating tourism to the region and also community tourism’s ability to reduce poverty and empower communities.

The virtual event featured a number of travel agent teams, as well as staff from travel brands G Adventures, TruTravels, Travelsphere and JustYou, and Planeterra founder Bruce Poon Tip created his own team, leading the fundraising efforts with over US$13,000 raised. Poon Tip also matched donations up to US$19,000.

A number of well-known bloggers also participated including Uncornered Market, Divergent Travellers, and Nomads Giving Back. Truly a global event, participants hailed from over 30 different counties, with many opting into taking on the step challenge associated with the event.

“What we witnessed is an incredible show of support from Planeterra’s global community, which grew over the weeks before, and during the Planeterra Trek Challenge,” says Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “Travellers love authentic experiences that give back to the communities they visit, and by raising these funds they demonstrated that they want our partners to be there when we’re all able to travel again.”

Participants hiked to raise awareness of the power of community tourism to change lives and uplift communities. Donations will provide kickstarter funding for communities worldwide that need to invest in new health and safety measures, provide training for safely reopening, and ensure communities remain resilient and safe for years to come.

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About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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PLANETERRA LAUNCHES VIRTUAL TREK CHALLENGE TO HELP REBUILD COMMUNITY TOURISM

Founder Bruce Poon Tip invites industry to join him virtually trekking to Everest Base Camp

Planeterra Foundation, the non-profit partner of G Adventures and G Touring, today launched its first annual ‘Planeterra Trek Challenge’ and is inviting the travel industry to join a virtual trek to Everest Base Camp to help rebuild community tourism around the world following the devastating impact of COVID-19.

This year’s trek places a spotlight on the work of Planeterra’s partners in South Asia, including Nepal, with the challenge being for participants to walk the 65 kilometres (85,000 steps) it takes to climb to Everest Base Camp. The challenge takes place from September 21-27, with participants ‘reaching the top’ on World Tourism Day, September 27, 2020.

Planeterra’s founder, Bruce Poon Tip, who also founded small-group adventure tour operator G Adventures and is the owner of G Touring, has already built his own team, and pledged to match donations from participating teams, and donors, up to $19,000 USD.

“The Planeterra Trek Challenge is an opportunity for us to come together virtually and create a sense of connection at a time where people are feeling distanced, not just from travel but from other countries and cultures. Most of us are missing travelling and many are looking for a way to give back to the people and communities who have given us life-changing travel experiences in the past. I’m excited to invite our agency partners, suppliers and the wider tourism industry to join us in raising some much-needed funds.

“We also want to spotlight this iconic region for travel that is currently void of tourists. These communities need our help, so let’s get away from our home offices for a bit, maybe tackle a personal fitness challenge at the same time, and do what we can to make a difference,” says Poon Tip.

Planeterra’s network of 85 community projects around the world was left without any source of income when global travel was suspended as a result of the current pandemic. Local people and their communities need funds fast in order to rebuild and recover, and the Planeterra Foundation is encouraging travel agency partners, along with their friends and family, to join them in raising awareness and much-needed money.

“We are preparing a series of unique content and stories online that will celebrate and highlight community tourism. This includes interviews with travellers who have summited Everest, interviews with community tourism leaders and cooking demonstrations. Anyone who loves travel is going to want to get involved,” adds Alanna Wallace, Planeterra’s program and communications manager.

Donations collected will provide kickstarter funding for communities around the world that need to invest in new health and safety measures, contribute to training for safe reopening, and help to ensure communities remain resilient and safe for years to come.

To join the Planeterra Trek Challenge please visit this link to register your team. 

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About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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The ‘Six Stars’ at Amba Estate

THE “SIX STARS” AT AMBA ESTATE, BANDARAWALA, SRI LANKA

We have just returned from Sri Lanka after meeting yet another group of inspiring women being supported by Planeterra Foundation! The “Six Stars” as they befittingly call themselves, are women who work a the AMBA Tea Estate and with Planeterra support have established a successful chutney cooperative after getting training and necessary equipment, further supplementing their income.

AMBA Estate is a community-based sustainable tourism project in the Ambadandegama valley in the Uva Highlands of Sri Lanka. Ambadandegama Chutney Cooperative is the first entirely community-owned venture to be supported by the Estate. Planeterra provided a grant for equipment and training so that the women of AMBA could start producing a range of chutneys, pickles and other preserves to be sold to visitors, utilizing the multitude of fruits and vegetables that grow in the valley. The group received guidance on how to make different types of chutney and about health and safety standards, like how to sterilize the bottles. The whole process is carried out with utmost precision. Anyone witnessing the entire process can feel the meditative approach of the cooking, as going step by step requires a lot of patience. But in the end, you are rewarded well with the aromas of all the lovely ingredients slowly filling the room.

The Happy Team at Work

The six members of the cooperative were selected by AMBA because they are the most experienced tea pickers. In Sri Lanka, it is mandatory that tea pluckers retire from the plantations at the age of 55, so the chutney cooperative adds financial stability as these women move into retirement. The “Six Stars” are all able to work from the comfort of their own homes which also provides them the opportunity to get help from their family members. As a result, the cooperative can churn out an order of 10-15 bottles in a single day. Guests at AMBA Guest House are able to taste the delicious chutneys ranging from mango, papaya, tomato, jackfruit, and lime, and can also take some back home.

The Six Stars remark on the impact AMBA has had on them, including being able to support their families.

“I have two daughters and one son,” Renuka says, “This money has really helped me a lot as I build my house. With the profits, I bought wiring for the house.”

“I worked before in the estate and now I do this,” Ramayalatha reflects, “I am saving money for my daughter’s wedding.”

All of the women’s stories are truly inspiring, but Renuka’s story stands out. after facing a lot of setbacks early in life, in 2008, she joined AMBA as a tea-plucker. Step-by-step she learned a whole range of new skills, from organic vegetable and tea growing to fine-plucking, tea-rolling and jam-making. Like all of AMBA’s team, she participates in the farm’s revenue-share and she is now responsible for all aspects of tea production, from plucking the leaves to rolling and overseeing the oxidization and drying. She is also a founding member of AMBA’s chutney cooperative, which are then sold in the AMBA farm shop. Thanks to Renuka’s perseverance and hard work, she has been able to give her children an excellent education – her oldest daughter graduated and is now a teacher, her son is a security officer at a school, and her youngest daughter is taking her O Level. Renuka says that her life is getting much better, thanks to AMBA and Planeterra.

It’s not just the members of AMBA Chutney Cooperative who are set to benefit from this enterprise. The community is also seeing ripple effects from this business, as Rs. 10 from each bottle of chutney sold is added to the cooperative’s fund which goes towards their equipment, and eventually, towards purchasing a start-up kit for more women to join the cooperative.

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Planeterra Raises $100,000 in Emergency Funds for Community Tourism Relief

Non-profit raised $100,000 to support community tourism businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns

Earlier this week, Canadian non-profit Planeterra Foundation successfully closed their Turn Travel Into Impact from Home emergency fundraising campaign after successfully hitting their fundraising target of $100,000. The campaign was aimed at encouraging travellers who have found themselves at home due to the spread of COVID-19 to continue to make an impact on small community businesses in the tourism industry.

Planeterra Foundation has disbursed 19 emergency relief grants during this time, and will continue to evaluate and support project partners until travel resumes.

“Just because this particular fundraising campaign has closed, does not mean we are done sending grants to our partners,” says Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “Our team continues to support our 85 community partners worldwide, and we are reviewing grant appeals on a regular basis, with more to disburse in the coming weeks.”

Planeterra’s Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign was launched at the end of March, when it became clear our community partners globally were going to need support to meet their basic needs during the pandemic, and ensure their recovery when travel reemerges post-COVID. After reaching their $50,000 goal in June, Planeterra Founder and Chairman of the Board Bruce Poon Tip graciously offered to match donations for the remainder of the campaign, which helped the non-profit reach their second goal of $100,000.

“We want to thank our global community of donors for their overwhelming support when our partners needed it most, but our work is far from over,” continued Sweeting. “The Planeterra team continues to help our partners that are dealing with the various stages of the pandemic. We hope our growing community will join us as tourism and Planeterra reemerge stronger and more resilient than ever.”

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About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more