Our concept is made of two distinct components: philanthropy, which is nothing less than the love of mankind, and the butterfly economy, which can be explained with the example of sustainable tourism in Cambodia.
Why Cambodia? Well, because everything started from here.
In 2005, Éric Mangin had already spent several years in Cambodia. He was working in the private sector yet he was involved in humanitarian activities as well. One day, Éric discovered Cheung Kok, a 600 people village in Kampong Cham province.
At that time, the rice culture was not providing enough food or incomes to feed the village nor to ensure satisfying living conditions. A successful brainstorm with the villagers, discussing their local skills and the growing tourism in Cambodia, persuaded them to launch two new economical activities: handicraft & ecotourism (indeed, a few hundreds kilometres from there, millions of travelers were taking some pictures of Angkor Wat temples...). Villagers agreed to run those new activities through a single commercial platform; any handicraft would be sold through that platform at a fair price and at a higher price to travelers.
This innovative model worked out beyond expectations:
today the village counts more than 7000 tourists visiting Cheung Kok every year; school is free and accessible to all children, infrastructures are renovated and/or maintained (roads, wells…), villagers have access to electricity, drinking water and micro credits. Everything is paid by the handicraft and the ecotourism project! Currently the village is investing on a silk project to attract even more travelers…
“Years later, I was striving to fund another drinking water supply project in favour of 3000 inhabitants, still in Cambodia. It took me three years to collect 150000 euros. With the global economic crisis, it was even harsher to find funds and I was really frustrated. As time passed by, more and more people were getting sick from drinking unclean water. Suddenly, an idea came to my mind: why not replicate the Cheung Kok project model and make it international? Travelers from all over the world would visit a single online platform and we could obtain the necessary funds to help NGOs. This is how U2GUIDE was born”, Éric says.
The butterfly economy summarises the metaphor of a perfect flight: balanced and of equitable force between two wings of a same vessel. Some of us generate wealth while others benefit from it. Making profit for non profits.
“One wing of the butterfly takes and the other one gives. It is the only way the butterfly can fly. And it is the way we foster equality around the world”, says U2GUIDE’s founder & CEO.
“Even if you have a very good social business, benefits always stay in the same pockets. But with U2GUIDE we generate benefits for the non profits. That is the way we break the current economy cycle, investing part of the money in philanthropic activities”.
On U2GUIDE, local guides & insiders list activities online (city discovery, hiking, hosting, home diner, Yoga class, …) to offer worldwide travelers to explore their next destinations in a novel way, getting in touch with local people.
Upon booking, travelers choose the NGO that U2GUIDE will support with 1% of the transaction at no additional cost.
Guides can also decide to share any of their gains with their favorite NGO. And finally, U2GUIDE uses 50% of its net profit to fund local NGOs at destination.
“Wanderlust inspires us. We want to change the world simply by travelling. We are an ethical community. We are U2GUIDE”, Éric claims.As ambitious as it sounds. As possible as it is.