Hermanos ...... A model of Micro-Philanthropy

Hermanos ...... A model of Micro-Philanthropy

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 Hermanos.... a Model Of Micro-Philanthropy.   Hermanos facilitates the giving of micro-donations ($25 gifts) to those who need them most. In giving our guests become engaged in the community. Gifts include "despensas' (food baskets), energy efficient light bulbs, soccer balls and jerseys, and school sets. Our guests choose their donation, pick it off our display shelf and are escorted to the home of the recipient. We then introduce our guest to the recipient, share smiles, laughs, stories and exchange our gift for an incredible amount of gratitude. Although small in scale the hope is that other outfitters world-wide will follow suit and soon an international movement of Hermanos projects will be started.

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Morelos # 3

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Are you a traveler or a travel company?

Travel company.

Tell us your idea. What makes your idea innovative?

Our innovation goes back to the days of Robin Hood.... but instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor.... we (as tourism operators) are the intermediaries between willing donors and appreciative receivers. Here is how things started. We noticed some problems in our community and then took action to find some solutions. Problem 1: Despite Jalcomulco being a successful model in eco-adventure tourism, we realized that some families still see little or no benefit from the tourists we bring into their community. Problem 2: Our guests gain so much from their experience in Jalcomulco that they ask how they can contribute back to the community. Solution: Facilitate the exchange of small donations from willing contributers to those that see the smallest benefit from their visit. Create an engaging encounter/relationship for both the giver and receiver. We invested $200 in 2 sets X 4 different "gifts" that our guests could purchase from us ($25 each) to donate to residents in our community. Gifts include "despensas' (food baskets), energy efficient light bulbs, soccer balls and jerseys, and school sets. Our guests choose their donation, pick it off our display shelf and are escorted to the home of the recipient. We then introduce our guest to the recipient, share smiles, laughs, stories and exchange our gift for an incredible amount of gratitude.

Through "Hermanos" our guests are given the opportunity to see how the least fortunate in our community live. We create enthusiasm for making a positive contribution to the community which leads to direct engagement with local people resulting in an incredible level of satisfaction. Hermanos builds relationships between unlikely partners.... tourists and those not "normally" touched by tourism. We hope that our guests are so moved by their "Hermanos Experience" that they become inspired to contribute to those less fortunate in bigger and better ways.

What is the likely impact of your idea?

We measure our success in a variety of ways. Quantity % of donors.... over 75 % of our guests make a micro-donation ($25 gift) of which many make numerous donations (set of 4 $100). On average we have over 100% making a $25 micro-donation. The generosity and will to contribute is amazing and previously untapped. Quality of encounter..... Our guests and recipients both benefit and enjoy the relationship created in the exchange. The value placed on the smiles, laughs and gratitude makes for a priceless experience. Benefit to recipient.... providing a food basket to those that cannot afford to purchase rice or beans, changing cheap incandescent light bulbs for more energy efficient ones, or giving a young kid a soccer ball or school supplies makes a difference to those who receive them. To date.... there is no evidence of negative impact.

What would it take to launch or spread your idea?

This is truly grass roots and has no additional staff or administrative costs. We started with eight $25 gifts and each time one is purchased we replace it with the donors investment. We estimate a $5000 return on a $200 investment by the end of our season. I know this sounds like "small potatoes" but imagine 100 or possibly 1000 like minded adventure travel companies following suit.... thats $500 000 going into the homes of those not directly or positively effected by their tourist operations.

We are planning to share "Hermanos" with all other socially/environmentally ethical adventure travel companies. We hope to promote each other under a common branding. That way when one of my guests is looking at another outfitter in another destination the can say "Hey, they have a Hermanos Project too!". We are appealing to all outfitters listed in the National Geographic "Best Outfitters on Earth" survey and hope to get some others come on board through our presence here with Changemakers.

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