September 10, 2015
Call it the intersection of adventure travel and entrepreneurship. Onwards – a non-profit organization that launched on Tuesday – is striving to improve economic development in poverty-stricken areas by working with small businesses in the tourism industry.
“We forget that there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world in developing countries that are game-changers for the environments they work in,” says Pippa Biddle, a board member with Onwards. “What we look to do is to find those people, especially in the tourism industry who are changing the way their communities work.”
Onwards also improves tourism-based business development by providing training, partnering with local organizations and offering loans to small businesses.
“What we aim to do is provide zero interest loans where the risk lays equally on us and them,” says Biddle. “We are both tied to a relationship where if we walk away they don’t owe use anything. The hope is that they can get the financing they need, can scale and build amazing companies.”
Biddle made her first donation to Onwards for $950. Her donation was used as a loan for a woman named Raquel, a Bed & Breakfast Entrepreneur in La Cumbre, Dominican Republic. A few weeks ago, Biddle traveled to the Dominican Republic with the Onwards team and had the chance to see how her loan was used first-hand.
“With the loan they were able to finish the building, they were able to install a new roof and running water, and they were able to buy beds and sheets. Now, they have a guest house and about four people can comfortably spend the night there,” says Biddle of the completed project.
Along with Raquel, the team had the opportunity to help Jairo, a Hotel Co-Op Owner in Rio Limpio (Dominican Republic). He received a loan of $5,100 from Onwards and has already paid back $550. Biddle says both loans were apart of the 2015 pilot program and the company has about $10,000 in pending projects.
More About Onwards and the Team
In addition to Biddle, the team includes co-founders Jacob and Christina Taddy along with board members Elaine Acacio, Sam Wirch and Rob Mancey. The team is mostly made up of entrepreneurs who not only have a passion for building businesses, but an interest in giving back to small-business owners worldwide.
“People are looking for escapes and they are looking for ways to get away from some of the grind and what we’ve found is that people need a vacation,” says Biddle.“They also still want to do good and people who are in entrepreneurship want their money to do something impactful.”
To learn more about Onwards, watch the video below or view the Indiegogo campaign here:
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