Golfing for Elephants L3C

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Golfing for Elephants L3C: A responsible golf tourism company that promotes luxury without ivory to China

Tucson, United StatesKenya
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Our responsible golf tourism company will donate 50% of our profits to anti-poaching efforts in Kenya -- to save elephants from the ivory trade. Through golf, we raise funds and support from the Chinese, who buy 70% of the world's ivory. Partner of 96 Elephants and Wildlife Conservation Society.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if funds and support among China's wealthy – the same group purchasing 70% of the world’s ivory -- could be raised for charities that are
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

If demand for ivory is unchecked, African elephants will be extinct by 2020 (Aid for Africa 2013). But it also takes a human toll; ivory pays an estimated 40% of funds used by al-Qaeda-backed terrorists to kill innocent Kenyan park rangers and mall shoppers (Tackett 2013). It threatens the security of Kenya and the U.S. and ruins Kenya's tourist industry. Tourism reduces poverty, creates jobs for women and youth and saves wildlife habitat.

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

We must tackle the problem's root, demand, by specifically influencing Chinese millionaires and promoting luxury substitutes in the marketplace. Costly ivory has been venerated and carved by the Chinese for millennia. Adventure tourism and new friendships can reach consumers on the emotional level necessary for dramatically changing such deeply ingrained tradition. Experiencing wildlife with the Maasai, playing golf with a celebrity concerned about global issues like terrorism, or hearing about such a trip from a friend or colleague accomplishes this. Our adventure tourism event taps a two-sided market, attracting wealthy Chinese golfers and luxury brands who want access to them. Revenue will be generated through sponsorships and auctions.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Suppose a C-suite Chinese executive who loves golf hears about our tournament and goes to Kenya. He meets American and Chinese pro golfers and celebrities, all of whom share a deep concern for the plight of African elephants. Our businessman might not have previously realized how buying ivory in China decimates elephants in Kenya, or how this fuels poaching and terrorism. But after mingling with animal-lover VIPs on the green and on safari, seeing excellent luxury alternatives by our sponsors and perhaps adopting an elephant orphaned by poachers, he is better informed. Back home, the influential executive shares the news of his exciting trip with family, friends and colleagues, and asks them to buy other luxury items instead of ivory.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Kenya's 44 million people ( will be safer without an ivory war. Prices will drop as wealthy Chinese stop buying ivory. Fewer shipments will be seized because less will be trafficked. The ivory supply chain will collapse; fewer poachers will be paid to kill elephants. Al-Qaeda backed terrorists will not be funded by ivory sales, improving global security. Park rangers will not be killed by poachers. More workers will be in tourism, reducing poverty and saving wildlife habitat. Kenya's elephants will be viewed more valuable alive than dead, and their numbers will rebound back to 160,000 from 38,000 (Rao 2013). We'll expand to help rhinos in South Africa. To get there, we'll track revenue, anti-poaching donations, local spending, attendance, publicity, blogs and social media, as well as luxury item sales by our sponsor brands. We'll measure sponsor CLV, NPS and conversion rates.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The revenue model is unit-based for entry fees and advertising-based for sponsorships. Sponsorship packages will include special events; logos on programs and apparel; hotel room and gift bag drops; and ads on our social media channels, eblasts and bilingual website. There will be live, silent and online auctions. We'll approach luxury or golf brands who value access to Chinese millionaires, as well as concerned wildlife support organizations.

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

WildAid and many other charities build awareness via Chinese PSAs by celebrities. To an undefined Chinese market, they promote Western ecological and animal lover values that might not resonate. Admonishing PSAs and ads can result in denial, and do not accommodate a need to save face. UNEP takes the same approach; it also works with CITES, customs, police and government. This addresses only symptoms. As UNEP and others assert, the ivory war won't stop until demand ends. Using adventure tourism we can tackle demand by targeting China's wealthy and promoting luxury substitutes.

Founding Story

During a 3-week visit to Africa in December 2011, I saw wild elephants in the bush and at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, where I adopted a baby orphaned by poachers. I learned how elephants are disappearing in Rwanda, where only 17 remain (IUCN 2013). At Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda I viewed the skull of its very last elephant, killed in 1999. I saw the tree seeds elephants had loved to eat, and thereby grew forests. I was introduced to African economic realities. After the Nairobi mall attack in 2013, I read how Chinese ivory demand must stop to end poaching that funds terrorism. In November 2013, I was finishing my MBA and I read how golf is popular in China. I linked this trend to ivory demand reduction in a final paper.