Kalmykia: putting the only Buddhist State in Europe on the travellers' map

Kalmykia: putting the only Buddhist State in Europe on the travellers' map

Project Summary
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Are you a traveler or a travel company?

Tell us your idea. What makes your idea innovative?

BWnaturas.com overall mission is explained below. For now, the implementation of our mission is based on three projects. Here, we outline project 2, "Kalmykia: putting the only Buddhist State in Europe on the travellers' map" to be implemented by Sept. 30th 2009.

After arriving in St. Petersburg, we will fly to Volgograd, rent a car and reach Elista, the Kalmykian capital. We will be filming local monks, part of the Tibetan tradition, and make contact with local communities growing natural products.

Republic of Kalmykia is part of the Russian Federation. After paying a high price in Soviet times in terms of human lives, deportations and culture, Kalmykians were allowed to return to their home-country. Kalmykia is the only state in Europe where the dominant religion is Buddhism, and is also famous as the Chess republic of the world, thanks to the Kalmykian president´s passion and patronage of Chess.

What is the likely impact of your idea?

Putting Kalmykia on travellers' map. Making travellers more aware about the importance of local products, and bringing to the attention of fellow travellers communities and products they may be interested in knowing better when visiting the area. We strongly believe in social entrepreneurship, and that social entrepeneurs can co-operate to improve the positive impact of their efforts.

What would it take to launch or spread your idea?

We are already working on the market platform on BWnaturas.com. By using our skills and the power of open source software, a secure and reliable platform can be built with a low budget. The main cost is on spreading the voice and visiting new local communities to start co-operating with them. As mentioned above, winning this competition would give a substantial contribution to the success of BWnaturas.com and to the development of local communities.

Once customers start ordering the natural products reviewed on the website, then the mission becomes self-substainable because revenues can cover operational costs.

Describe yourself as a social innovator.

BWnaturas.com (http://www.BWnaturas.com) is an e-market which allows travellers to bring the "pearls", discovered while travelling, to the attention of a wider audience. As frequent travellers ourselves, we noticed that nowadays there are mass-produced products which are available everywhere, from big metropolis to small towns. We also noticed that there are local "pearls", products which we found very useful, bought in quantity locally but were then never able to find elsewhere else. This happens especially with natural products, and products which have a specific cultural meaning for local communities.

These "pearls" are not mass-produced, for this reason major retailers would not be interested in offering them to customers. And, if the would, they would ruin the value of such products, which is in the deep local roots and care given by local producers, whose practices have often been transmitted from generation to generation for centuries.

By bringing these local products on sale on BWnaturas.com, a niche e-market, it is possible to create prosperity for local communities, and at the same time benefit customers who can find an answer to their niche-needs and wants. Travellers can be global citizen by bringing to BWnaturas.com´s attention their discoveries. With interactive tools like forums, social bookmarks, etc. other fellow travellers can share their knowledge about the benefits and history of local natural products they bought. Once the community has expressed its interest and voted for the most valuable products, then we get in touch with the traveller, and share information. If this results in a contact with local suppliers and products been sold on the website, then the traveller receives a small referral-fee in cash, or a gift voucher of higher amount, as a thank you note for the great service done to local communities, fellow travellers and us.