Through our partnership, the community has seen increased revenue, allowing them to invest in social, economic and environmental impacts locally. The tourism enterprise has created new jobs, as well as positive visibility for the community. The Shandia community continues to use tourism as a tool to protect and preserve natural and cultural resources, and to express, share, develop, and pursue their traditions.
The village of Shandia is located in the rainforest of eastern Ecuador. It is inhabited mostly by Indigenous people of the Kichwa nationality and was formerly an evangelical missionary centre, the village currently consists of 120 families. The community owns Shandia Lodge, which was developed with the purpose to generate employment opportunities, increasing collective self-esteem, and generating security, leadership, and management skills among the members of the community. However, the community enterprise was in need of customers to reach its full potential and to achieve financial success.
The community enterprise had significant barriers accessing the international market, and when they did gain access, they risked losing their unique traditions and cultures. The environment and wildlife needed to be protected with sustainable plans managed and led by locals. Further, women in the area face barriers accessing formal job opportunities, and youth have limited access to jobs and education often migrating to the big cities.
Planeterra, in partnership with the local non-profit EcoCiencia, worked with the Shandia community to identify opportunities in tourism. Together, we developed new culturally immersive experiences, including a cycling tour and a community experience led by youth.
Planeterra’s grant supported new equipment as well as training programs for local guides. The enterprise is seen by the community as a way to rescue their Indigenous culture and provide opportunities for the future. Travellers have the opportunity to meet local people and learn about traditional agricultural practices and learn how to make chocolate.