Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey there! Spiffy here, back again with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Praveen Moman, the founder of Volcanoes Safaris. Let’s learn what’s happening at Volcanoes Safaris and how Praveen is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi, Praveen! Thanks so much for joining me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Volcanoes Safaris?
Praveen: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Volcanoes Safaris and its non-profit arm, Volcanoes Safaris Partnership, work jointly to connect our lodges to support the conservation of threatened gorilla and chimpanzee populations and increase economic livelihoods for communities who live around our lodges. This has included setting up the Bwindi Bar, a hospitality training school for underprivileged youth; the building of the Gahinga Batwa village for over 100 disenfranchised Batwa who were evicted from Mgahinga National Park; and creating a three kilometer buffer zone near the Kyambura Gorge to help safeguard the threatened chimpanzee population.
Spiffy: Amazing! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?
Praveen: My extended family has been connected to this part of Africa since 1905 but were expelled by Idi Amin in 1972. In 1997, I returned to Uganda to set up Volcanoes Safaris; I then did the same in 2000 in Rwanda. These are some of the most densely populated countries in Africa, with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world and it is an area that has come out of conflict some 25 years ago. We have been at the forefront of setting up great ape ecotourism in the post-conflict areas. Working to uplift the population has been central to my vision.
Spiffy: Tell me about the impact of your work.
Praveen: Our work helps in different ways: it has been a beacon for hope in difficult times; it has helped kickstart great ape ecotourism after conflict; it has kickstarted the local economy; it gives employment to several hundred people; it is estimated to support 12,000 families around our lodges; it supports women's cooperatives; and over 50% of our managers in the organization are women.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
Praveen: 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of our work in Uganda and Rwanda. We held a retreat for our main conservation and community partners at Mount Gahinga Lodge, which we opened in 1997, to take stock of our collective work and discuss how our partnerships with organizations—such as the Jane Goodall Institute, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Gorilla Doctors, and Conservation through Public Health—can work to further safeguard the future of gorillas and chimpanzees in the Albertine Rift over the next 25 years.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Praveen: Species such as the mountain gorilla and chimpanzee are threatened by increasing development and population growth. To safeguard their future, we need to focus on ensuring that local people have an economic stake in the conservation of great apes.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Praveen—it’s been an honor!
Praveen Moman grew up in the wilds of Uganda before the family became refugees to the U.K. After a career in the British Government and the European Union, he founded Volcanoes Safaris in 1997 In 2005, Volcanoes Safaris became a signatory to the UN Kinshasa Declaration on Saving the Great Apes. The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT), a non-profit organization, was set up in 2009 to support community livelihoods and promote the conservation of the great apes. (Nominated by Rumit Mehta of Immersion Journeys. First published on the Ladderworks website on May 16, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.