The Ethiopia Experience was established in early 2015 as a project to generate income for Dires for Development Charitable Association, an Ethiopian NGO specialized in social programs for people who have a disability in Ethiopia. Since 2003 this organization has been involved in all kinds of activities that support social and economic developments for this target group. People with disabilities in Ethiopia belong to the most marginalized and poorest people in the world, and over the years Dires has fulfilled a pioneering role in creating opportunities for them in the fields of sports, education, and entrepreneurship. Up to today Dires reaches thousands of people with a disability in Ethiopia every week, among which a lot of children.
From the start Dires had always been fully dependent on foreign donors. But in 2014 it became clear that donations were declining and that they had to find alternative sources of income to maintain their activities. For this reason, Dires started to pursue a strategy of ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ in order to generate their own income. In this context The Ethiopia Experience was established as a cooperation between the NGO and Tour and Travel professionals; together they started to organize travel programs and related activities that created unique value for tourists, and generated income for the NGO. Today, in 2018, The Ethiopia Experience is a vital partner for Dires for Development without which they probably could not survive.
Dires uses sport as a means to create positive awareness for people with a disabilitiy in Ethiopia. Our guests are often invited to participate in their activities.
Mutual value creation
The cooperation with Dires for Development, and other local stakeholders, is not based on charity but on mutual value creation. Through these cooperations, The Ethiopia Experience has access to all kinds of networks in Ethiopian society and is able to organize unique and meaningful activities for their guests, unlike any other tour operator can. Dires facilitates most of the logistics and they get paid for their services, this is how they generate income. The Ethiopian government facilitates this proces by offering Dires a license to organize tour and travel programs, provided that the income that is generated stays in the NGO. We believe that this cooperation is a unique and pioneering example of Social Entrepreneurship in the travel sector in Ethiopia, one that is not dependent on charity but creates sustainable economic value, and has substantial social impact.
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