I’m sure you’re aware of the astonishing number of voluntourism organisations, which is why we hope you can appreciate that, as an organisation that uses students to develop social enterprises in developing and emerging economies, it is incredibly difficult to differentiate ourselves from these organisations.
However, Project Everest is not an organisation that espouses, supports, practices or facilitates voluntourism. First and foremost, we are an organisation that exists to develop sustainable solutions to complex issues in developing and emerging economies. We involve students in the development of our businesses as, following sufficient pre-departure training and mentoring in social entrepreneurship and when provided with adequate technical support, they are well equipped to effectively develop social enterprises.
Some of the things that we have in common with these organisations is that a) we interact with University students, typically from developed economies and b) we operate in developing and emerging economies. Aside from that, we are proud to say that we’re quite different from voluntourism organisations. We exist for real, long-term impact for people who, as a result of colonial oppression and imperialistic exploitation throughout recent centuries, remain significantly socioeconomically disadvantaged.
With respect to our impact on and interaction with communities in developing and emerging economies, we’re acutely aware of the myriad of ways that large numbers of western people can impact small communities, particularly in a economic sense.
With this in mind, we try to minimise the effects of our periodic consumption on local economies by living within the most modest means and refraining from any donations or handout type of activities on the ground.
Instead, we aim to generate sustainable solutions that improve economic conditions and access to basic utilities in the long run.
The reason that we use enterprise as a tool for that is simply the inherent sustainability of the model. Too many failed charity based aid programs, in good conscience, promote a failed model of international development. This is not to say there is no place for charities in a broader sense, as there are myriad of social issues that only charities can solve. Modern history has shown that the provision of utilities, such as power and water, as well as dirt cheap agricultural finance, are however, not realms in which charity is the sole solution.
By aligning our financial interests with provision of socially beneficial goods and services to grossly under-served demographics, we hope to facilitate an expansion of opportunity and sustainable improvements to peoples quality of life.