As a social enterprise, Project Cordillera’s central motivator is creating social value. This means that the partnerships we have forged with community-based development organisations, and the local communities of which they are part, are central to our operations as an ethical business.
So, how does this work in practice?
Well, in partnership with leading guiding outfits, we have organised a cost effective structure meaning we can offer outstanding expeditions and courses at extremely competitive prices. In doing so, we are able to allocate 50% of our profits directly to our local community partners, as well as harbouring our own collective expertise to support them in a number of non-financial ways.
Through the financial support, our expeditions and courses assist Andean Alliance’s Youth Development Programme, and more specifically the Outdoor Skills and Leadership Project (OSLP). First and foremost, this project is about creating opportunities for young people living in remote areas of the vast and remote Cordillera Blanca – a region of deep economic neglect, where communities are marginalised and opportunities for young people are few and far between.
The OSLP utilises the teaching of outdoor education as a path to develop a range of critical skills and aptitudes, all of which will support our young beneficiaries in whatever they go on to do. The Project gives young people exposure to a career in responsible adventure tourism, but more broadly it provides a structured framework in which these great mountains are opened up as an educational force in the lives of young people.
The main activities associated with the OSLP include rock climbing, multi-day trekking, camping, orienteering, and learning how to use a map and compass. Further curriculum includes learning basic first aid, route finding, language training, working with technical equipment, learning and reciting local myths and legends – all of which is done with reference to the historical, geographical and cultural importance of these mountains.
Direct outcomes include increased confidence and engagement with potential career options as well as opportunities to develop leadership skills, teamwork and other “soft skills” necessary to work with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Great emphasis is placed on key areas such as building trust, making sound and considered decisions, communicating openly and honestly, and developing confidence through learning and understanding.
The OSLP, and the Youth Development Programme more broadly, is one part of four main areas of work undertaken by Andean Alliance as part of the local community. More generally, the work we support is undertaken alongside further programmes relating to the provision of early years education, supporting young mothers and incubating sustainable micro-businesses as well as hosting the community library, nursery, café and textile rooms.