Social enterprises in Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe focus on supporting women and youth
This International Women’s Day, Friday March 8th, purpose-led adventure travel company, G Adventures welcomes four new ‘G For Good’ projects to its tours, supporting women and youth across Africa through a commitment to social enterprise and responsible tourism in its supplier partnerships and customer experiences.
The four newest community development projects - which bring the total number to 70 in 41 countries - were selected based on the potential economic impact of the tour operator’s travelers who are visiting Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Their addition is a reflection of the increase in travelers G Adventures has seen across Africa over the past year. They include:
- Tribal Textiles - Mfuwe, Zambia - Despite recent economic growth that has generated employment in Zambia’s urban regions, opportunities for the country’s rural communities remain scarce. This new G For Good project, which is offered to G Adventures’ 18-to-Thirtysomethings tour guests traveling through Mfuwe, is helping address that gap. It also helps deter wildlife poaching from the nearby park as a source of unsustainable income. The community-run fabric workshop, café and hand-painted textiles market is located just outside of South Luangwa National Park, and its 100+ staff members are all female. More than 1,500 community members benefit from their involvement. making Tribal Textiles one of the most impactful economic engines in the village. Travelers learn how the textiles are made, enjoy lunch at The Courthouse Café onsite, and have the opportunity to buy unique, handmade souvenirs from its artisans.
- Lusumpuko Women's Club- Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - This group of 20 women offers cooking demonstrations and farm-to-table meals for G Adventures travelers visiting Victoria Falls through an immersive experience that honors traditions of the women’s grandmothers and mothers while also creating sustainable income opportunities. A staggering 95 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is unemployed or underemployed, an enduring impact of the country's devastating inflation of 2008. Before Planeterra’s partnership, the women worked together to raise chickens and provide catering services for local groups. That foundation created the framework for this thriving new ‘G for Good’ cooperative, which now welcomes 1,800 G Adventures travelers who visit the famous falls each year. Lusumpuko means “progress” in the local language of Tonga, a vision that this project has helped fuel while creating a strong support network for the women involved.
- Princess Sewing Cooperative - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - This practical and service-focused group of 10 professional women offers laundering and tailoring services to G Adventures travelers passing through the township of Mkhosana, en route to Victoria Falls. That’s due to extensive business training, grant making and lobbying efforts from the Planeterra Foundation, to help the women organize and prepare for an increase in customers from G Adventures’ tours. The income the women now earn, providing clothing services to visitors at a reasonable cost, means the women can now afford to pay school fees for their children and achieve the financial freedom that enables them the chance to continue their own education.
- AidChild’s Equation Café & Gallery- Kayabwe (Equator), Uganda - With approximately 130,000 children under the age of 14 living with HIV in Uganda, the need for support, medical care and education to help them live long, healthy lives is vital. Working with local organization AidChild and its Equation Café and Gallery, this new G For Good project invites G Adventures travelers to enjoy the paintings and crafts made by local artists, and share a traditional Ugandan meal. Their visits support the nonprofit's mission to provide medical care and education to the children and youth living with HIV in Uganda, and training for the dedicated staff members who work there.
‘G For Good’ projects are made possible through G Adventures’ collaboration with non-profit partner, the Planeterra Foundation, which is registered under Canada’s Not-for-Profit Organization Act. Financial contributions from G Adventures to support Planeterra’s operating costs as well as a significant portion of its project development costs enable the organization to invest 100 percent of public and corporate donations directly into project development.
Of the 70 different ‘G for Good’ initiatives that offer travelers culturally-authentic and immersive experiences on tour, 20 are primarily committed to empowering women through work in travel and tourism. To date, more than 2,000 women having been employed or trained through these social enterprises around the world.
Kelly Galaski, the Toronto-based Director of Global Programs for Planeterra, explained that the new projects in Africa strengthen G Adventures’ ability to deliver on its mission of changing lives through travel.
“The tourism industry continues to be one of the largest job creators in the world, with the ability to reach some of the most rural and underserved people across the globe. But, despite 55 percent of the tourism workforce being made up of women, there is often a lack of women in leadership roles. And, in many countries, women are completely excluded from education and the formal economy because of their gender. International Women’s Day is a key opportunity to raise awareness of the work still to be done. We are committed to supporting projects, like these new initiatives in Africa, that empower and offer fair employment to women, because when women succeed, we all succeed.”
Among the 20 female-focused projects, G Adventures sees many women successfully overcoming social and gender inequality each year. In India, Women on Wheels, the country’s first fleet of female-only chauffeurs, has trained and secured employment for over 650 women from resource-poor areas of urban India. In Monduli, Tanzania, a team of all-women engineers from the Maasai community have installed over 500 clean cookstoves and solar systems in people’s homes, offering safer cooking options to the families across the Serengeti. Opened in 2018, the Sthree Craft Shop and Cafe in Sri Lanka has served 2,400 meals to travelers in their first year, offering sustainable employment to women and youth with disabilities.