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P1T Establishes the People-First Innovation Fund

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Shayna Feldstein

People-First Tourism, a home-grown social enterprise is paying it forward – by giving back to the Institute for Nonprofits. This enterprise – created by an interdisciplinary group of faculty from the Colleges of Natural Resources, Engineering, and Humanities and Social Sciences – was a sort of mentoree for the Institute; the Institute helped them get started and connected to the resources they needed. Now they are giving back by funding scholarships and venture support.

People-First Tourism, or P1T, is the opposite of big tourism, providing a smaller, genuine, authentic experience. Most notably, the money paid goes directly to each participating micro-entrepreneur. The people running the programs receive the money directly from those who buy the experience.

The most important thing to know about this group is that P1T is a social enterprise, empowering people to make a living. Anyone can participate in offering services or a unique experience, and the cost in turn is “designed to be affordable and reflect the specific experience,” says Elizabeth Benefield. From an Iroquois community walking tour in Costa Rica, to a woodworking workshop in the NC Piedmont, to a visit to a bunny farm, each experience offered is truly unique.  More experiences will become available as the site expands.

The program is currently interested in attracting both new travelers and entrepreneurs – and all feedback is relevant. P1T is a new business, so sharing experiences and spreading the word is crucial to their success, and to the success of the entrepreneurs. P1T is looking to branch out using a technology that is one of the most widespread to date – cellphones.

All of the revenue that the inventors – an interdisciplinary group of faculty from the Colleges of Natural Resources, Engineering, and Humanities and Social Sciences – earn from royalties will be donated back to the Institute for Nonprofits to establish a fund called the People-First Innovation Fund. “Their generosity will support student scholarship, research, and developing social enterprises to help the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Benefield.


For more information on People-First Tourism, check out this NC State News spotlight.

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