“I feel empowered, and now I look at myself as an entrepreneur. We went from informality to having vision . . . Aspiring is not only believing in dreams, it is changing one’s attitude to see the changes.” – Sonia, hostel owner, ELLAS Initiative
In 2011, we had a vision: to empower female “enviropreneurs” to harness market forces and employ voluntary solutions to environmental problems in their local communities. Then, with your help, a wonderful thing happened: our idea won the National Geographic Geotourism Challenge! With $883,116 from IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (FOMIN), we went to work.
In the last six years, this multifaceted initiative has provided training to twenty-three female entrepreneurs who were seeking to establish or improve small businesses in tourism. Many of these include women-owned hostels and restaurants. Thanks to their improved capacity to provide tourism services, they are already experiencing an increase in visitors. We also helped to establish geotourism programs that range from snorkel tours and mountain biking to archaeological site visits and ox-cart rides. These tours are now increasing appreciation for the biodiversity around La Flor Wildlife Refuge while providing direct economic benefit to families and cooperatives from nearby communities.
Paso Pacifíco expects to see local geotourism continue to increase and benefit local economies and biodiversity. When geotourism is a major component of local household incomes, community members are more invested in protecting wildlife. With our partners, we will continue working to educate youth, support conservation, and empower communities!