Friday,  November 15, 2019  3:59 pm

Planeterra is just 15 projects away from completing its Project 100 goal

Planeterra is just 15 projects away from completing its Project 100 goal
Bruce Poon Tip, CEO, G Adventures, and Jamie Sweeting, president, Planeterra Foundation.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

The Planeterra Foundation, the non-profit arm of G Adventures, completed its 50 in 5 campaign ahead of schedule, one and a half years early, to be exact.

By launching 50 projects in three and a half years, 60,000 local people living in the communities these projects took place benefited directly from the efforts. 

READ MORE: G Adventures launches Animal Welfare Policy

On the heels of that success, the organization is now aiming to launch 25 more projects by the end of 2020. Yesterday evening, Planeterra and G Adventures hosted a private event for select members of the media, as well as their supporting partners. Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, as well as Jamie Sweeting, president, Planeterra Foundation, were among guests.

To date, Planeterra has completed 85 projects worldwide. Launching an additional 25 small businesses around the world would translate to transforming close to 85,000 lives, every year. Currently, Planeterra has active projects on all seven continents in 51 countries.

The first five projects of Project 100 are:

"When Jamie and I started working together in  1995/1996, when he was a young, fresh-faced kid working at Conservation International ("And he was already old!" Sweeting chimed in), I went to Conservation International in Washington, and said, 'I want to do a community project in Guatemala,'" Poon Tip recalled. "They were the only NGO at the time who worked with local communities, and they were doing eco-tourism projects. That was the only word that came out of tourism that gave any sort of giving back."

In the early days, Poon Tip says he and Jamie worked on a few projects; some were successful, and "most were disasters," he laughed.

"But it was the first time we had a taste of how we could work with local communities, and how tourism could have that impact."

In 2020, G Adventures turns 30; Planeterra is currently celebrating its Sweet 16.

Travel as a force of good

G Adventures, then know as G.A.P Adventures, started its first community projects in 1996.

The internet was barely a thing, and researching ways to get those early projects off the ground, and to have those conversations with the right people had its fair share of challenges, Poon Tip recalled.

"We learned that the response from communities was so important, as was creating that dialogue," Poon Tip said. "Ultimately, this led to us creating Planeterra. Ultimately, the problem that I had working with non-profits is that they did things at a glacial pace, and being nimble is critical to being an entrepreneur, being innovative, and staying competitive; none of that is the priority of a non-profit, so I figured we'd start our own in 2003."

According to Poon Tip, when he started looking for funding, and talking about his ideas, he was often met with negative feedback, "because people thought for-profits shouldn't have non-profits, and they thought that we were trying to take the work from non-profits."

From an idea to a definite character

Poon Tip says the work that went into developing both G Adventures, and successfully launching its non-profit arm, Planeterra, truly define what the companies both stand for today.

"It defines so many of our decisions, and who we are as a business, as well as on a global stage as we move towards becoming a global business and a market leader in our space," Poon Tip said.

In 2015, Planeterra launched its 50 in 5 campaign, and "it was quite an ambitious idea," Poon Tip recalled, "but we had actually already built 25 projects...so to add Project 100 last May, and to have already completed 85 of those [100], you can just see the hard work that's gone into it; we're still 14 months away and have 15 more projects to hit our goal of 100; that's the kind of speed that I'm talking about, that we wouldn't have been able to achieve if we had worked with a non-profit."

He continued: "As we head into Project 100, I'm very proud of the group we have presently, because they're so hyper-committed to a much more defined message that we have as a business," Poon Tip said. "We might even have to up that Project 100!"

This year, Planeterra is also hosting a fundraiser around Giving Tuesday, "which is becoming a bigger, global event now," Sweeting said. "This is a good trend, the idea of getting everybody together to focus on goodwill, and to give to somebody other than themselves." More information on the fundraiser will be made available shortly.

For more information on Project 100, click here!

Agents who want to learn more about the Giving Tuesday fundraiser can learn more here.


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