Have you ever wondered what is it like to be a social entrepreneur – would you perhaps want to become one yourself? What is eco-tourism? How does it drive change in Mayan communities around México?
In this post, we want to tell you more about Rutopia – an ecotourism company we will work with – and one of its co-founders: Diego. We will be working together in El 20 to develop tourism in the community, figuring out with people from El 20 how to make it an inclusive and sustainable source of income.
The Rutopia team is formed by Diego, Irene, Emiliano, Sebastian, Eduardo and Alfonso Xochihua (who unfortunately is not in the picture).
In the picture: The Rutopia team
Diego is responsible for our project, so we interviewed him below to get to know more about Rutopia.
Diego, how would you describe yourself in a few words – who are you, what do you love, and how did you become a social entrepreneur?
I consider myself an entrepreneur with a strong consciousness. I like to make money, but not only for myself. I believe happiness is only lasting and complete if it is shared; so I prefer to increase everyone’s well being when I work for raising my own.
Born in southern México, I moved to Mexico City to study political science. When I learned about geopolitics my dream of changing México through the government rapidly died. I drifted for a while, but today, I believe true change mostly come from organized civil society. We have to slowly but constantly build the new world we want. Today I work with communities for sustainable development and that makes me feel whole.
I also love mezcal and extreme sports.
In the picture: Diego from Rutopia
How did you get the idea to establish Rutopia?
All team members are adventurous travelers, since we were younger we have explored rural Mexico. The idea of Rutopia came when we Tian and Emi realized that amazing communities wanted to implement ecotourism as a source of income instead of deforestation or selling their land but nobody came to visit them. They decided we should share our way of travelling with others and help the communities achieve their goal.
What is eco-tourism exactly – and why is it so important for indigenous communities in Mexico?
Ecotourism is a way of travelling and exploring the world – especially amazing nature -responsibly. The traveler understands that he/she is part of an enormous system and his/her actions have an impact on the places we visit. The impact can be environmental, but also social. With true ecotourism we choose to have a neutral or ideally positive impact (beware, there is a lot of false ecotourism!). In Rutopia, we see tourism as a tool that will allow us to preserve natural ecosystems and culture while sharing amazing nature as an alternative source of income for communities, rather than depleting these natural resources.
So what is Rutopia, and what does Rutopia do in this context?
Rutopia is an online bilateral platform. On one side we help rural and indigenous tourism cooperatives to be successful. We connect them to travelers seeking authentic experiences and break the market barriers the actual tourism system has.
On the traveler’s side we offer the possibility of getting truly immerse in Mexican society to learn about culture and traditions while enjoying our overwhelming nature. You can live this experience and contribute to preserve nature and the communities that have guarded it for centuries.
Summarizing: we provide a fun, adventurous, authentic and safe way of exploring the country while generating positive impact.
What does the name “Rutopia” come from?
From the combination of route and utopia. We are building our path to achieve a fair and sustainable world while doing what we love most: traveling and discovering this amazing earth and its inhabitants.
How did the collaboration with Aalto Lab Mexico start?
Before Rutopia was created, all three co-founders were part of Aalto Lab. The Lab has actually been a source of inspiration, especially when it comes to co-design. We are very glad to come back not only as labber but able to offer opportunities to concrete some of the projects we help to build before.
Tell us about the key values of Rutopia?
This are the values our team works with (we prefer short sentences, rather than single words).
- Communities are our business partners, our biggest investors.
- Always assume the best intentions.
- Brutal honesty and transparency.
- Treat everyone and listen to them as if the are your “messias”
- Discover while implementing.
- Take your tasks more than seriously.
What is your vision for Rutopia, and for eco-tourism in Mexico for the next 10 years?
We see our communities proud of their indigenous heritage; treasuring their language, knowledge, lifestyle and nature but sharing it to all of us.
Their cooperatives will have professionalized. For example, we are helping to form experience designers capable of designing experiences that travelers love; experiences that allow cultural exchange and mutual benefits. We see a strong network of all this cooperatives from different ethnicities working together and supporting each other.
We see all the ones forced to migrate returning to their homeland where they will find everything very different compared to when they left: there will be jobs, safety, dignity and opportunities. Energy and food will be produced sustainably and locally. Social cohesion will be very strong.
We see conscious travelers that do not conceive indigenous as “good savages” on display but as a living pre hispanic/mestizo cultures.
How can a person from Finland (or Europe) plan a trip with Rutopia? What kind of trips are available?
Right now we work with 6 different communities. Each one of them offers a different experience. You can travel in central and southern Mexico through cloud forests, deserts, canyons and the Caribe. You can meet cooks, artisans, loggers, farmers, weavers and even entrepreneurs. All our experiences are designed to have all 4 elements of experiential tourism (physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional dimensions). We also offer customized trips for your specific interests and desires.
If you want to travel with us or just check out videos and photos of the communities feel free to contact or follow us through any of our social networks or email.
Write to us and we can book and customize the trip of a lifetime, hopefully the first of many.
Web site: https://www.rutopia.com.mx/ (beta under construction)
e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org