Some entrepreneurs dream of having a business that not only makes money, but that can also fulfil their desire to help others. Social entrepreneur Kimi Anderson has managed to do just that.
With a background in the travel industry and in marketing, combined with an unwavering motivation to find a way to help those in need, Kimi formed a travel website that doubles as a fundraising tool.
Kimi established Travel Giver, a website that allows people to book their travels while giving to worthwhile projects in Australia or overseas. It’s an appealing proposition, one that’s made all the more enticing in that it doesn’t cost customers one extra penny.
“Basically, every time you go on Travel Giver, you make a booking and Travel Giver gives a donation to a community project that you get to choose,” Kimi explains to Dynamic Business.
“You could pick a project in Asia that helps children or a project in Australia that helps animals; it depends, there are over 300 projects in 50 countries that you can give to.”
Kimi says she formed the idea for Travel Giver over a few years, working in travel for 12 years and working with a non-government association in Cambodia.
“The idea was in the back of my head for a while. I really wanted to do more to help, but didn’t know how I could monetize it. I wanted to make sure I could give funds on an ongoing basis,” Kimi says.
“I think fundraisers are great, but after you give some money you go back to your normal life. I wanted to do something with a much longer-term plan.”
Travel Giver has been online a bit over a year, a period that has seen the website add more partners and projects.
“I started with about 40 projects in 4 countries, with only 3 booking partners, and now I’ve got 25 booking partners on board. I’m really happy with the growth that’s happened over the last year or so,” Kimi says.
The most challenging aspect of the website has been in getting people to understand what they do, Kimi says, especially regarding how donations are made.
“Each time someone starts with Travel Giver and then goes to make a booking at Booking.com or Expedia, Travel Giver earns a referral fee,” Kimi explains.
“I give half that referral fee to a project on behalf of the traveler. Half the referral fee is kept by the website. It’s pretty transparent, and you can even log in to your profile and see how much you’ve been giving over time.”
Now that the website has been established, with a strong customer and partnership base, Kimi says that the next step is getting SMEs involved.
“I’ve had a corporate bookings function added to the website. The site’s always been about making it easy for individuals to give while they travel, but I’ve had corporate functionality added so that I can go to small and medium business and say, ‘Look, now you can support your own charity projects.’ ”
As many business-running mothers out there will no doubt agree, the biggest enemy of business progress can be time.
“There are just not enough hours in the day. Something like Travel Giver has got such unlimited potential, you want it to grow so much and grow so quickly, and not being able to get it all happening fast can be a challenge with my type of personality,” she laughs.
So, now that Kimi has had experience in the corporate world and as her own boss, which one does she prefer? The answer isn’t very surprising.
“I prefer working late at night than being in an office all day. I feel much more in control of my own workload. I absolutely love the flexibility.”
You can visit Travel Giver right here: http://travelgiver.com/