TRAVEL ANOTHER INDIA WINS CARTIER WOMEN’S INITIATIVE FOR ASIA
Gouthami, belonging to PRM 89-91 created ripples in IRMA community, when her responsible tourism business (Travel Another India, which she helped set up in April 2009) won the prestigious Cartier Women's Initiative Award (for Asia) on October 14 during the Annual Global Meeting of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society in Deauville, France. This short article summarises the award winning business plan as well as the experience of being a Cartier woman! More on Travel Another India: www.travelanotherindia.com
About Travel Another India (TAI)
When was the last time you milked a buffalo or took a bullock-cart ride? Does the thought of Malgudi days make you nostalgic? The India that most tourists see is the one with ancient architecture, busy bazaars and sunny beaches. There is another India, simpler, but the more beautiful for it, where the tourist actually meets the real face of India: its people. India offers the experience of a huge diversity of cultures, cuisines, music and a thousand other small pleasures.
Travel Another India, as its name suggests is a responsible tourism venture started by Gouthami, Vinay Raj (3rd Batch) and Meera Menon. Over the past 18 years, the co-founder, Gouthami worked with social development organisations across India. She enjoyed the hospitality of many rural communities during her travels. The only ingredients these communities lack are access to seed capital, channels into the tourism industry infrastructure, adequate exposure, and a collective organizational structure.
TAI is in the business of providing a unique experience to discerning guests who are keen to explore another India... one that is rich in diversity of cultures, cuisines and comforts. While doing so, it is ensured that our hosts, who provide this experience, have a sustainable, alternative income option. While there are others who offer tours off the beaten track, TAI is different in that they work alongside rural communities and ensure that they own, manage and control the venture.
Travel Another India, a Responsible Tourism and rural development enterprise was considered a front runner thanks to its grassroots approach of working through ventures run by local communities. This helps to give an option to some of the families who wish to migrate out, while encouraging the local economy to develop. Ask almost any Indian villager if they would be willing to welcome tourists to their home and they will probably ask you why any tourists would want to come!
As one of TAI’s guests put it, “When we were children, we visited our grandparents who lived in the village during the holidays. It was a time for fun – stealing mangoes, lazing by the river and running wild. Today my child’s grandparents live in the city. But, I want her to know those simple pleasures and experience that sense of freedom and fun.”
TAI currently offers guests a home stay in Channapatna, Karnataka with a family that is involved in making wooden toys, a holiday package in Ladakh for guests using wheelchairs and guest houses run by a Village Tourism Development Committee in Banavasi, Karnataka and Pranpur (near Chanderi), Madhya Pradesh. We are also a marketing channel for the Hodka Village Tourism Committee in Kutch, Turtle Bay Resort near Udupi, The Hermitage Guest House near Belgaum, Ecosphere in Spiti and Arco Iris in Goa.
Since June 2010, TAI has been ably partnered by Catalyst Management Services. CMS was set up by N Raghunathan and N Shivkumar (batchmates) in 1994 to provide support to those working in social development.
Travel Another India @ Cartier
Cartier is famous for its distinctive jewellery since the 18th Century. The Cartier Women's Initiative Award is an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women's Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs. TAI won the award from Asia, in the fourth edition of this annual event.
The Asian finalists other than TAI were Sookyoung Chae of REBLANK from South Korea who creates sustainable clothing and designs that give new life to used materials through upcycling, and Kyoungjae Lee, Sewing for the Soil again from South Korea who provides complete eco-friendly wedding services and designs, from biodegradable dresses and recycled invitations to living flower garlands and organic catering.
The jury comprising of Deepa Chatrath, Regional Managing Director of Corum, Singapore, Keiko Honda, Partner of McKinsey & Co, Japan and Michelle Sassoon, COO of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Singapore) Pte Ltd, all obviously agreed, “three young women with powerful ideas addressing critical needs.” The Finalists of the fourth edition were nominated on the basis of their short business plans. They go through two rounds of judging by some of the most eminent businesswomen in the world. Among them, five Laureates, one for each continent, were selected to receive the Award on October 14, 2010.