We connect travelers to women entrepreneurs in Oaxaca, and use the tour fees to provide interest-free loans to those very women in support of their ambitions and business goals.
Our unique form of responsible tourism through microfinance tours provides an intimate form of cultural exchange, giving travelers a very special glimpse of life in Oaxaca. Our tour participants meet with hopeful, proud women, and learn about their goals for success. In addition the tours are a platform through which the women can openly discuss their ideas and businesses, while receiving feedback and support from an interested and invested audience. Tour participants learn about local culture and customs, get a better understanding of development issues, and see first-hand how microfinance works and the real impact their money will have on the community.
Why tourism and microfinance? Tourism is an important globally industry, accounting for 5% of global GDP and one in every 12 jobs. In 2011, international tourists in Mexico spent $11.9 billion US dollars. At En Via, we believe that if we can capture, even just a small portion of tourism dollars to fund development work that supports communities, we can achieve a lot.
That’s why we use 100% of our tour fees to first provide interest-free microloans to the borrowers met on a tour, and once the loan is paid back, to give more loans, cover administrative costs and support the rest of our work in the community.
We are currently working with over 250 women in five largely indigenous communities who represent a wide variety of businesses. Our borrowers are bread and tortilla makers, seamstresses, market vendors (selling things such as cheese, poultry, and vegetables), farmers, artisans, food vendors, and much more. The women have access to interest-free loans ranging from $100 to $250. Since 2008, we have given out over 1500 loans to approximately 300 women.
Along the way, we have brought people from around the world face-to-face with some of the opportunities and challenges of microfinance, and more importantly, with the ideas, strength and power of the women working so hard to improve the futures of their families. Our tours enable us to give interest-free microloans, which are more than just money for borrowers; they facilitate social change and cross-cultural exchange by re-directing tourism to the communities that need it most.
"The memory of this woman's face, so full of pride to be able to provide for her family, will stay with me forever. This great organization will introduce you to good people in a respectful manner. Do yourself a favour and spend a day with EnVia." - Joanne, Canada