The Great Primate Handshake

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The Great Primate Handshake

UgandaCardiff, United Kingdom
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Raise awareness of African conservation organisations by creating digital media within the country.

Travel, Create, Educate.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are many worthwhile conservation organisations working in our current target countries: Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. Whilst these organisations do great work they do not have the funding to create media content, such as websites or films, to promote the fantastic work they do to raise both awareness and funds on a global and often more importantly a local level.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is to take the expertise and equipment to the front door of these organisations, we can ask them directly what their digital needs are and immediately make them into a reality. Volunteers pay for the experience to travel across an amazing African country, such as Uganda, whilst learning from media professionals and each other which in turn creates a unique skill sharing environment. The volunteers fund the project allowing all content that is created to be provided free of charge to those that need it most. We utilise an overland truck, typically used to take those looking for adventure tourism, and change this up by creating an eco-tour where the tourists become media creators for conservation organisations whilst traveling at the same time. We drive right to where the content is needed, and work with the local educators and community to involve them in every step of the process, therefore widening the reach of the skills that are shared.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several competitors in the international volunteering circuit including organisations that pair willing volunteers from around the world and take them to projects where support is needed. Fantastic work is done by these organisations, but none feature a project, like ours, that utilises volunteers with a passion for digital media in the way that the Great Primate Handshake does. Other competitors would include organisations that take people and provide media training in Africa. Again this is different from us as the content created is used for training purposes and not used for a longer term aim of supporting conservation projects.
About You
The Great Primate Handshake
Background Information
First Name


Last Name


The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you


Country of residence of entrepreneur

Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?

The idea behind The Great Primate Handshake began in a tent in South Africa, where I was volunteering at The Vervet Monkey foundation, a sanctuary for orphaned or injured monkeys, and using my skills as a videographer to help promote their work.

There I met Alasdair Davies who was making a website for the organisation. Alasdair and myself were unique among the volunteers as we were volunteering to do something different.

Like us the other volunteers had skills, degrees and many were professionals in different areas including digital media. These volunteers wanted to help and were undertaking key tasks, that were needed but were not utilising their proven skill sets and therefore not being the best that they could be.

Through Alasdair and myself's shared love of digital media and travel we came up with a unique idea. To travel across Africa visiting different conservation projects and create digital media tools for them free of charge, funded by paid volunteers.

We wanted to create a project where skills not typically sought after, but were a great help, could be utilised.
Therefore by raising awareness about conservation using primates as a flagship species, we could help people on both a local and international level better understand their environment and the world they live in and how to help protect it.

In short we wanted to; Travel, Create and Educate.

It took three years of blood, sweat and tears to get the first expedition off the ground and since 2008 we have run 6 trips across three countries; Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

Each trip sees us lead a team of 20+ volunteers and our global reach has seen us have over 66,000 YouTube views and we average over 100,000 website hits a month.

We are now looking at expanding our vision to include more projects, countries and communities and create a global handshake.

About Your Organization
Organization Name

The Great Primate Handshake

Organization Country

, Cardiff

Country where this project is creating social impact

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The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities

Firstly, when we arrive at a location we meet with the staff and learn about the organisation we are creating content for.
We listen to their needs and ideas and create a plan based upon their aims and objectives.

The volunteers and Handshake staff will then make a plan and work with the staff on the ground to put it into action.

For example, Chimpanzee Eden is a sanctuary in South Africa, for them we created a package of content which worked on several levels.

Our team of volunteers produced a silent animation on why it is not good to use primates in the media which could be shown to an international audience without a language barrier getting in the way.

This was coupled with a teachers' pack that local educators could use to engage groups of children before, during and after their visit.
To finish off, an activity pack was created where the students could make a Recycled Rainforest (complete with video).

These teaching aids have proved invaluable in really enabling the educators on the ground to interact with their students with fresh content that enriches their learning experience, by making it a multi-platform learning experience. By using video and animation as well as more traditional education techniques, individual students' different learning styles could be catered for.

Other examples of created content include:

For example, we have built websites for many sanctuaries including The Vervet Monkey Foundation:

We have helped raise awareness of the widespread use of Chimpanzees as pets and by the film industry for Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden:

And helped to promote the work of technology such as the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) laptop in schools in developing nations:

Select the stage that best applies to your business

Operating for 1-5 years

Social Impact
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?

Each time we revisit a country we have a specific research team that speak to the people we have created content for to examine how our material has been used and to evaluate its effectiveness.

We also get feedback from the projects we support, often with information on how the content has been used, in class rooms; at fundraisers; etc.

Statistics on both our Website and YouTube channel are also analysed, but we have found it difficult to know via the web how we have affected the end user.

Our biggest social impact is on the individuals that volunteer with us. Many volunteer due to the digital media element, but questionnaires before, during and after tell us that our process encourages individuals to be socially and environmentally responsible in their ongoing career.

What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?

The business is at risk of becoming stale if we do not grow, expand and reflect effectively upon the work that we do.

We are continually looking at how our content has been used and how it will be used in the future. We have worked in each country twice now, it would be simple to go back and repeat the work that we have done. However, if we were to do that, the content wouldn't be needed and everything would fall flat.

Our goal going forward is to explore the educational need and how the content can be used both locally and globally. Part of this is assessing the way our content is received and interpreted by all users.

How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?

Our business model takes those willing to support a volunteer experience, often by raising the money to cover their costs through fundraising initiatives which in turn act as promotion.

The funds raised then power the trips and provide media equipment and expertise that would otherwise cost £1000's, free of charge to those who would benefit from it the most.

By taking people that are looking at travelling whilst giving back to the country they are within we act as an 'eco-tour'.
However we are aware that flying people around the world then traveling on an overland truck may not appear to be the most environmental method of travel so we counter this to limit the impact on the planet.

We pride ourselves on being an ethically aware company, within each and every thing we do we reflect upon the social and environmental impact.
With our trips that include travel we offset this by working with a company called Tree Flights. We also visit the sites where the trees are planted, and therefore work directly with the communities that we support.

This goes further down the line, encompassing everything from the companies we choose to work with to the t-shirts we put on the volunteers' backs.

Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?

The thing I love the most about traveling is meeting people, both the people we take on the trip and the ones we meet whilst moving through the country.

What is amazing about this is talking through ideas with people and turing an idea into a reality.

Because I do this whilst I am on a project that was once a dream to me, the people that I work with see this and are in-turn inspired to aim higher, from a volunteer who is thinking about running their own business or a dance troop in Uganda who want to make what they are doing financially viable.

I believe that positive movements with lasting impact begin at the grassroots, and that by supporting small groups of motivated and passionate people, great things can be achieved. This applies in so many ways to the work of the Handshake: the committed people we work with in-country, the volunteers who want to use their skills for good, and the people at home who find inspiration in our work.

What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?

As I have already spent some time traveling through Uganda I have already been through both some of the challenges and rewards, but this would not detract from the experience, as each new trip reveals new things and opens my eyes to yet more amazing aspects of the country.

I love to throw myself into new situations and see both the work of other organisations and evaluate how my own skills can be of use towards a greater benefit and collaboration.
Working with people on the ground to make a shared goal a reality will be both the challenge and the reward.

It is people that have the power to make a difference and this comes from communication and creation.