Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007
Fundación Programa Andes Tropicales


This profile was prepared when Yves Lesenfants was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
With the help of his Argentina and Venezuela based organization Programa Andes Tropicales, communities are guided through a range of steps that map offerings and attractions with tools such as GPS units, build networks of family-owned tourism enterprises launched with microfinance funds, partner with national parks, and market their products to a growing client market of tourists interested in local cultures and ecologies. In doing so, Yves breaks a pattern of poorly run tourism initiatives, introduced from the outside, that prevent communities from fully benefiting from tourism as a resource for development.
Yves offers communities real new business opportunities to supplement their farming activities, which has the additional benefit of protecting nearby nature reserves from cultivation and destruction. But his new process is about much more than simply creating income streams: It allows communities to collaboratively identify, organize, and use their most valuable resources for sustainable development. And it all begins with a participatory cartography process aided by sophisticated technology—a method that has been used for conflict resolution but until now never used for tourism and development. When well designed and managed, tourism also generates renewed pride in culture and community, in addition to revenue.
Yves’s methodology is designed to be replicable in different regions, and he constantly incorporates new elements and seeks connections to realize the potential of his idea for spread. Among other examples, Yves is currently working on a bottom-of-the-pyramid funding strategy with Garmin (the largest manufacturer of GPS units) and a marketing segmentation project for global e-communities as Amazon.com customers and Google users
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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