In the most impressive Himalayan trails, you can weave through one community after the next living off the grid. Guided by Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), qualified trekkers can not only experience the beautiful trails, but install solar power microgrids for these communities along the way. The organisation has already taken over 500 international travellers and provided solar grids to over 50 communities in the remote Himalayas. Add the capacity building and digital education centres, it’s not surprising that GHE took home the Community Award at this year’s World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
We spoke to Paras Loomba, founder of GHE, and asked him about the inception of his startup. Read on to see what he said.
WHAT TRIGGERED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
In my country, India, the majority of the population does can not meet their basic needs. The gap between Urban and rural India is increasing daily. As an engineer, I wanted to provide social technological innovative solutions for the rural communities and bring along changemakers to do the job. It looked like an attractive package and after getting a good initial response, I took the leap of faith.
1500 Year Old Techa Monastery Electrified at 16700 ft
WHAT DOES YOUR STARTUP DO?
We take tourists on an expedition to remote Himalayan unelectrified villages and set up solar microgrids and digital education centres. The villagers get infrastructure, the tourists gets an experience of a lifetime and we achieve our social impact while generating revenue. Once electrified, we put these villages on map and promote responsible tourism in there that can, in turn, lead to further livelihood generation for the villagers.
Villager in Machu experiencing electric light for first time
WHAT'S THE IMPACT OF YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE ON THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?
The world has started looking at sustainable tourism more seriously and have started reporting their impact. We have been able to influence many local tour operators to adopt our model, not only in India, but even in Latin America. The Homestays business has started picking up and tourists are now looking for community impact experiences, rather than a just standard destination trip.
WHAT RECENT MILESTONE(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
We have recently been featured by BBC, National Geographic and World Economic Forum, which is huge recognition for a small organisation like ours.
All so, we have been selected as the finalists for WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) 2018 Awards which is a big deal for us as engineers we never thought of ourselves in the tourist industry as well :)
We can't wait to hear more of this startup that truly embodies using tourism as a force for good. Learn more about Global Himalayan Expedition on their website or follow us here to hear about their progress in the Booster.