masawa


M-Ecotourism?

by mariah

A dispatch from Masawa team members, Darius and Mariah Levin, traveling for the summer before moving to Toronto.

On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I did a short family home-stay in Piedras Blancas, clear into the rainforest, through a start-up eco-tourism company, Autentico Adventures. Hiking 3 hours into the backcountry of Costa Rican rainforest-was an incredible experience, yet observing the business processes developed to run this rural company was even more impressive. Because Autentico Adventure’s owners, Felipe and Carlos, depend on the internet to communicate with clients, advertise, and schedule their tours, they are unable to live with their families in the rainforest. Instead, they must rent an apartment in San Isidro, which takes over 4 hours to reach by foot, horse, and car.  Felipe and Carlos are wonderful people and run a great business, despite the challenge of being away from home.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder how mobile applications designed for eco-tours might have enabled these two entrepreneurs to live with their children and families while maintaining and growing their business.  Through a java-based mobile program, Felipe could check changes in clients’ schedules without having to access the internet in San Isidro. Through weather applications, Carlos could check river levels and weather to ensure a smooth kayaking or rafting ride for visitors. And an accounting application could help this young business achieve and increase profitability.

Given the isolation of certain rainforest and rural communities in Latin America, building business is difficult. The possibilities of mobile applications certainly portend the relief of stagnated rural economies.