Manuel Miroglio wrote a lovely article about Guludo and our founder, Amy, after meeting her at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) in September.
Amy Carter-James is what one calls a social entrepreneur, and her eyes sparkle when she talks about how she planned to change the world. French green campaigner and photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand often says that "taking action makes you happy". Bearing this in mind, we understand more easily Amy Carter-Jame’s joyful attitude. During the ESTC12, the ecotourism elite was under the spell of the cheerful woman from the UK during her keynote speech titled "Guludo, The Power of a Dream". While Amy defined her humanitarian goals early on in her life, she remains a very well-grounded person.
A Top-Notch Social Entrepreneur with an Open Heart
Amy is internationally acclaimed for the social enterprise she set with Guludo Beach Lodge in Mozambique, and for NEMA, the foundation that she created. She proves that responsible tourism can be a tremendously effective tool to fight poverty and to empower communities from the poorest countries in the world.
She has won an impressive number of awards and prizes, including: Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2006, 2007 Women in Ethical Business Awards 30 Under 30 London Talent Awards, Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award, Tourism for Tomorrow Award, Conde Nast Traveler World Savers Awards, Travel & Leisure Global Vision Award, TO DO! Award for Socially Responsible Tourism... to name just a few!
I Had A Dream...
When she was 18, Amy volunteered in Kenya to teach English in a public school. She was shocked: 'I realized how privileged I was as a Westerner and the experience accounted for my future projects'. Her dream was, at first, to use tourism as a development tool to fight poverty.
After completing her studies in marine biology, she convinced her ex-professional soccer player husband to get involved in the project. The first thing to do was finding a location. She had learned more about Mozambique while doing research on the Internet, so in September 2002 she decided to fly there and discovered a small coastal village named Guludo. The place was idyllic and people were lovely, which was a good sign.
Six months later, she went and settled there but also found out about the sad truth of this country, which is one of the poorest places on earth: one out of three children does not reach the age of five due to diseases and a lack of drinking water. Every day, one hundred and two children are affected by AIDS, one hundred and twenty-five others die from malaria and only a few kids are lucky enough to go to school.
They got to work right after signing a tourism agreement with the government, and called in renowned architects in order to build Guludo Beach Lodge, a beachfront ecolodge, in collaboration with the local community. At the same time, the couple decided to create NEMA, a foundation aimed at receiving funds that could finance the many social projects that they were willing to implement.
A Tremendous Social Impact in Mozambique
NEMA Foundation is currently working in about fifteen villages in Mozambique. The foundation has set up close partnerships with local citizens and is using a method of holistic development related to education, drinking water, health, environment, and setting up small companies. This process has helped develop the villagers' skills as they acquired technical and professional knowledge.
To this day, nearly twenty-five thousand people have benefited from these programs. Eight hundred children receive daily meals, twenty thousand people now have access to safe drinking water, two hundred children have received a scholarship, health and AIDS programs have been set up, and schools as well as hospitals are being built.
Responsible tourism is strictly carried out at Guludu Beach Lodge. Among members of the staff, fifty people come from the local community, food is supplied by small producers located less than three miles away from the lodge, and local craft items are directly sold to tourists. Five per cent of the lodge's profits are transferred back to NEMA but guests can also donate time and money. Thanks to Guludu Beach Lodge, local infrastructure like schools, wells and craft centers are also financed in order to improve living conditions, and the impact of these programs at a social and environmental level is rigorously monitored.
Let's Go to Guludo!
Guludo Beach Lodge is the place to go if you want to relax, and also offers a wide range of activities on site, like scuba diving, whale watching trips, expeditions to the Rolas and Ibo islands, hikes in the savannah at Quirimbas National Park, trips to villages, soccer games with the locals, archery, or excursions on traditional dhwo boats. Amy now has one dream: she'd like the local community itself to manage the project one day.
We'll give you three good reasons to go to Guludo: the location, the people's kindness, and above all, the opportunity it represents to learn from their behavior. Guludo may be showing us that happiness can be achieved anywhere in the world...