Himalayan Ecotourism is a social enterprise in two ways.
Firstly we are social in the way we function as a for-profit organization.
We believe that to achieve sustainaible development in remote rural areas the local community needs to be socially and economically empowered. That's why we have encouraged the people of the ecozone of the GHNP engaged in tourism activities to come together to establish their own society : "The GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative".
We, the cooperative members and a couple of other professionals/supporters work together as Himalayan Ecotourism for organizing your treks and travels. We have set the rules so that everyone has a larger benefit being a member of the cooperative rather than working as an individual. Each members have at least one share in the company. It means that your trekking staff do not work as simple daily-based wage earners but as shareholders of the company. Hence Himalayan Ecotourism is their own company... That's why they care so much about you, their customers, and very soon their friends.
So our cooperative model is not only good for the locals, it is very good for your travel experience as well.
The cooperative has become the instrument of the locals to raise their voice, to claim for their rights and to envison a growing path.
It has greatly enhanced the social, economic and even politic empowerment of the local community.
Secondly we dedicate a part of our profits to undertake various projects locally :
Women empowerment. Formation of Women Self-Help Groups and training them for making value-added products
Green technologies. We have set up another enterprise to develop, manufacture and sell green technologies appropriate for the Himalayan context : non-polluting wood stoves and solar cookers.
Promoting sustainable development Awareness raising and mobilizing the local community around the issues related to sustainable development. Fighting destructive forest fires, encouraging a better waste management, reducing deforestation, child and women health issue, and more.
With the support of the "Friends of the GHNP", Himalayan Ecotourism starts interacting with the local men engaged in tourism activities. The core team of the GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative is formed. We decide to gather a maximum of local guide, cook and other trekking assistants before registering the Cooperative society.
Himalayan Ecotourism plans to work with the women folk in the ecozone of the Great Himalayan National Park. Most of the villages of the Tirthan valley are reached by our team to brainstorm with the women and understand better their point of view, their problems and their expectations.
65 villagers from the ecozone have joined the movement. The Society is regitered in Kullu under the Cooperative Act as "The GHNP Community-Based Ecotourism Cooperative". With the support of the cooperative the GHNP is nominated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. We organize a trek to Rolla for the two founders of the "Friends of the GHNP", Sanjeeva Pandey and Payson Stevens to celebrate the nomination.
We take dozens of groups on trek in or around the GHNP. They are all very happy with our services. It is the beginning of the successful story of our social enterprise "Himalayan Ecotourism".
Himalayan Ecotourism welcomes 14 interns and volunteers to work on capacity building of the cooperative members and to mobilize & train women for launching their own micro-enterprise.
Two women Self-Help Groups are formed in the village Pekhri. They are trained to make felted wool, hand-made soaps and fruit jams.
We decide to address the issues related to energy in the ecozone of the GHNP. We mobilize funds and researchers to start the development of green technologies.
Sadly we had to acknowledge that some of the local powerful people (economically and/or politically) do not wish to see the villagers, the mass, to get aware, mobilized and empowered. The cooperative is being first ignored by them and then attacked in very unethical ways. But the sense of unity that has emerged within the Coop has brought them enough confidence to stand against these intimidations. They have resisted and came up with greater awareness of their democratic rights. That's real empowerment !
Himalayan Ecotourism welcomes 18 interns and volunteers to work on reinforcing the business structure of the cooperative, to further mobilize and train women, and to participate in the development of an advanced wood stove.
Training of selected guides to winter treks.
Mobilization of the women in the villages Pekhri, Kulthi, Tinder and Bandel in the ecozone of the GHNP. They are assisted in forming their women Self-Help Groups.
Some members of the cooperative who learned felt making in 2014 have organized training for the women. The know-how is shared within the community. A very good omen for our social movement.
Some of the women are engaged in production of apricot oil, jams, soaps and body balm. They launched their own venture called "Himalayan Eco-Creations". The products are sold to the visiting tourists.
Prototyping of the wood stove that gradually turns into a clean multi-fuel and multi-utility stove.
Himalayan Ecotourism has organized several tours in Lahaul & Spiti and Ladakh. A great experience for the cooperative members and our guests. College groups are taken on trek.
The cooperative has taken up the next challenge : to establish itself as the main genuine ecotourism operator in the area.
Symbioz is established as the daughter organization of Himalayan Ecotourism for designing, producing and selling of green technologies in the ecozone of the Great Himalayan National Park.
We have taken several initiatives to raise awareness of the people in the entire Kullu valley about the adverse impacts of forest fires.
We have open our main office in Banjar to be closer to more local people. The front part of our premises have been arranged in a café. The café business in entirely in the hands of women. The café is named "Life Lovers" and it is frequented by the locals so that they can know about our work and can get involved.
Himalayan Ecotourism is recognized as a unique concept and initiative in the Himalayas. We are a 4.9 out of 5 stars trek & tour operator. We have the heartly encouragment from leading figures from the non-profit sector, forest department and many other like-minded personalities/organizations.
We have upgraded our trekking plans to "Everest" and "K2" thanks to the a second import of excellent camping equipment. We are unbeatable on the comfort and hospitability offered during our treks.
We are initiating a huge local community movement to fight against intentional forest fires around the Great Himalayan National Park.
More women are joining our women empowerment program at the Life Lovers café. We are making hand-made soaps, body cream and balm, fruit jams & pickles. All natural, made locally by women with local ingredients. This is available for the tourists visiting us.
Stephan, co-founder of Himalayan Ecotourism, shows some of the work undertaken by Himalayan Ecotourism in the ecozone of the GHNP