Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Exploring the Linkages Between Microfinance and Sustainable Tourism

Kiva values being in tune with the latest trends! Being globally and culturally aware is important to our Kiva community and we want to explore the relationship between microfinance and sustainable tourism.

A large part of sustainable tourism is maximizing benefits for the local community. This includes advancing social, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts while minimizing negative impacts. Kiva represents a real opportunity for local tourism entrepreneurs in developing countries to be a part of this industry.

As of 2008, the World Bank estimated that there were approximately 1,345 million poor people in developing countries living on $1.25 a day or less. Interesting enough, many of these developing countries also represent popular tourist destinations. How can Kiva play a more constructive role in helping alleviate poverty through tourism?

Kiva has been working with Field Partners in Mexico since 2006. According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) list, Mexico is a country that consistently ranks top 10 in the number of tourist arrivals. As many international companies set up hotels, run tours, and offer vacation packages, local populations lose out on potential markets. Pedro Humberto is a wonderful example of Kiva’s ability to combine poverty reduction, entrepreneurial spirit and sustainable tourism.
Pedro is originally from the town of Creel in Chihuahua, Mexico. He works as a tourist guide and driver, offering trips to the beautiful tourist sites in the area. Because he knows this area very well, his clients are able to enjoy beautiful locales, eat local foods and buy local arts and crafts. Pedro’s success represents an important step towards preserving local customs through tourism in Mexico!

There are more complex issues embedded in sustainable tourism including environmental impact, wildlife biodiversity, cultural heritage, equitable hiring, etc. Nevertheless, many of these more in-depth topics are implemented by national parks and taught in professional tourism courses.
These two Kiva’s borrowers, Roxanne and IsaĆ­, represent the successful linkages between tourism and microfinance! Roxanne is from Cusco, Peru and is pursuing a professional degree in tourism and is also taking English courses. IsaĆ­ Venegas Guevara is one of the best tour guides in the Corcovado National Park located in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Both of these young entrepreneurs are the future of the sustainable tourism industry.

Many of Kiva’s Field Partners work with borrowers looking to start or maintain a tourism-related business. By lending to these borrowers, a loan through Kiva can help the tourism industry stay local!