I can think of few things more rewarding than travelling and giving back.
So when a dear friend of mine pointed me in the direction of Traveller Collective, a company who so seamlessly blends the two together, I couldn’t resist. I had to find out more.
Darryl McIvor, fellow Canadian and founder of this awesome company is, like so many of us, a lover of travelling. But in his case, this love has awakened in him a deep desire to give back. The poverty he’s seen first-hand has made the gap between the privilege of being able to see the world and the inequality in so many parts of it, simply unacceptable.
So he decided to do something about it.
Enter, Traveller Collective.
This company was created to unite people who have an affinity for travel and who want to give back.
Their first initiative is with a non-profit organization from NYC called charity:water. The mission is to raise $10,000 by this month (March 2016) in order to provide a clean, sustainable water source in Ethiopia that will serve over 120 people.
…and did you know that there are 663 million people who don’t have access to something as basic as clean water?
I know. It’s unimaginable.
So if you’re interested in helping in even the smallest of ways, read on for more deets about Traveller Collective – and how you can get involved.
What inspired the name Traveller Collective?
Well, I wanted something somewhat obvious as to who this is intended for, in a broad general sense – people who identify themselves as travellers. As for “Collective”, I like the feel of it; it means bringing people together from across the globe and creating a community.
You mention on your website that as you continued to travel, the poverty you saw became increasingly difficult to swallow. Is there any moment or place that drove you to initiate the Traveller Collective Water Campaign with charity: water?
Ya absolutely. We launched just over 6 months ago, and I think why it’s gone so well and why it resonates with so many, is that a lot of people who have contributed to Traveller Collective have in some way seen this poverty first-hand. My experience in India is what really got me going. I was doing a homestay for a week and I was responsible for gathering water for the family. It was a 45 minute walk away to the well. You know, I’m relatively fit and I had good shoes, and yet I found it difficult and time consuming. And I couldn’t help but feel like there must better ways they could be spending their time. When I was collecting water with the father of the family, he was happy and didn’t complain, so it’s not about me feeling sorry for him – it’s about me wanting to make things easier for him. Traveller Collective really came from a love of travelling and a need to give back. Our next project will be about education.
What made you choose Ethiopia for this project?
It was interesting. We hooked up with charity: water, a non-profit in New York. When we first launched, we didn’t know where the project was going to be, and that was tough for us, because we wanted to give a story. With charity: water they regularly evaluate which communities and countries are in the most need of water at any specific time, depending on weather and various other conditions. We just heard that our water project will be in Ethiopia. What’s really great about charity: water, is that every cent we give goes to this project. That was one of the big reasons we wanted to be a part of this. Charity: water also works with an awesome organization on the ground call REST (Relief Society of Tigray). They actually work with the people from the community, and pay them to do the work. So they also create jobs within that community. They get work and then clean water. It’s quite a long process since it’s a hand dug well, and completion probably won’t be for another 20-25 months.
Can you tell us about the products you sell and how the purchase of these items are “paid forward”?
So when we first launched we created what we call The Clip, which is a leather key chain. And we have small rings engraved with the abbreviations of each country. The point is to collect a ring for each country that you’ve been to; not as a bragging right, but more as a way to recognize the privilege of being able to travel. We also created some apparel which have been received really well. Everyone’s really into it. We donate 10% of our revenue to our water campaign. We chose revenue because it was super important for us to do this pre-expenses. I find with profit it can be tricky, because who knows how a company actually spends their money and how much is left over for their contributions. We wanted to make it transparent and very clear that 10% of the money coming through our door is going back out to the projects we work on.
Like anything worthwhile, I can imagine you’ve faced your share of obstacles. What motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough?
I think with entrepreneurship in general, there are a lot of ups and downs and it can be hard. But, I think it’s a lot easier to get through those harder times when you’re working on something that you’re truly passionate about. I’m a pretty regular guy, who, just like so many other people out there, resonates with travelling and giving back – and it’s just about getting what we’re doing, out to those people.
Water for me was the most logical place to start. Through that experience I had in India and recognizing that we can travel the world and have all these opportunities, when some people don’t even have the basics such as water – these just seemed like polar opposites to me. Water is the building block of everything and it felt like the best place to start.
How close are you to the goal of raising $10,000 US by March 2016? And how can people contribute?
We’re very close, less than a $1000 away. People can contribute of course by coming to our website and purchasing products. But we also offer the opportunity just to donate. We didn’t want to force people to buy our products.
Just for fun! In three words, please describe Traveller Collective
Honest. Everyday people. (And travellers trying to do good. We don’t have all the answers but what we’re doing seems to resonate with people. That’s a lot more than three words).