Describe yourself as a social innovator.
Upon arriving in Jalcomulco in 1995 we quickly realized that there was much more to Jalcomulco than just “coffee and mangoes, acamayas and rafting”. Although we fell in love with the area, the adventure pursuits of the region, and the breathtaking vistas of the Antigua river valley, we quickly recognized the true value of the community lies in its warm, gracious, and friendly people. We realized that we could make a big difference in the lives of our local friends with small financial contributions. To date our small donations have yielded some incredibly successful business ventures, improving and stabilizing the lives of our friends and families. We contribute with small scale micro-philanthropy helping our friends to realize their tourism dreams. In a parallel world across the globe Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh was creating a system of Micro-lending…. in small rural communities allowing small scale business ventures to succeed with easy and affordable repayment plans. Our micro-philanthropy system was similar, albeit on a smaller scale, but had one major advantage over Prof. Yunnus’ micro-lending program. We did not require our beneficiaries to pay us back. We found that our “piece of the action” came from watching our friends succeed, by realizing that we had made a positive contribution to their lives and that their gratitude was more that sufficient compensation for our investment. We realized that “through giving, we gain”. Eleven years later, in 2006, Prof. Muhammad Yunnus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his micro-lending scheme. In 2007 Esprit received the #1 ranking for Sustainability in National Geographic Adventure’s Best Outfitters On Earth contest with a score of 100%. Although it is not the Nobel Prize we would like to share our latest initiative “Hermanos... A Model of Micro-Philanthropy. Under the banner of “Hermanos” we invite our guests to perform “random acts of kindness” in our community by purchasing and delivering small but appreciated gifts to the least fortunate in our community. We know many older people, single parent families, handicapped, as well as just plain poor families that for whatever reason the golden wand of tourism just hasn’t touched. Through Hermanos we have been able to reach out to these families formerly forgotten by tourism. Our guests have supported the project immensely. In exchange for their gifts they receive warm and sincere gratitude. The smiles, laughter, compassion and understanding has been priceless. Our next phase is to assist eco-adventure travel companies world-wide to start their own "Hermanos Project". We provide all the branding/marketing material, support ideas and web links to any operator that wants to join us. At this point in time I would like to dedicate the Hermanos Project to a young girl in our community named Dizac. Dizac is 12 yrs. old, and is the oldest of four young girls. Her mother is busy with family matters and her father is too sick to work. When we realized that their family life was extremely challenged we looked at ways that we could lend them a hand. From here we started Hermanos. Sincerely Jim Coffey & Team Esprit