Kutoa harnesses the power of the travel industry to improve, impact, and empower local communities. The word Kutoa means “to give” in Swahili, and we strive to transform tourism into a giving industry by extending the financial gains and resources of tourism to important local causes. Our hotels and tour companies actively donate money or in-kind goods or services to local economic, social, and environmental causes. By linking Socially Green businesses, travelers, and community organizations together, we seek to drive healthy social and economic progress around the world.
Who We Are
The co-founders of Kutoa are a husband and wife team who share a passion for travel. Tessa developed the idea for Kutoa after years of traveling the globe as a student, volunteer, and adventure-seeker. In her travels, she came across impressive lodges, hotels, and adventure companies that were deeply intertwined with their communities.
She stayed at a bed and breakfast in Peru that ran a home and school for orphaned children; an ecolodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon that operated as a 100% partnership owned by the indigenous people who used the profits to support the local families and their schools; and a hiking lodge in Lesotho that, during her stay, was the subject of a responsible tourism study by a PhD student from the UK.
Connecting with local people and cultures has always been important to Tessa, who volunteered in Tanzania as a gap year student in 2001 and subsequently raised the tuition money to put one of her most promising students through both secondary school and university. That student, Florah, graduated from university in Tanzania in 2012 with a degree in teaching and is funding her own siblings through secondary school.
Tessa realized in early 2011 that hotels, lodges, and travel companies around the world are impacting, improving, and empowering their local communities. Yet no centralized place existed to locate them.
Both Josh and Tessa realized that other like-minded travelers out there want to find trips that make a difference. And thus the idea for Kutoa was born.
Kutoa’s Selection Criteria
We carefully select Member Businesses that embrace socially green travel practices by donating time, goods, or money to important social causes in their local communities. The local community is roughly defined as the population within 50 miles (80 km) of the Member Business. Member Businesses include hotels, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels, ecolodges, resorts, tour companies, and adventure companies.
To be selected, Member Businesses must prove that they donate money or in-kind goods or services to causes that benefit the local community. Member Businesses partner directly with schools, conservation groups, non-profit corporations, trust foundations, and civic organizations. The recipient organizations themselves need not be physically located within 50 miles (80 km) of the Member Business, but the recipient organization must have a positive impact on the local community. For example, a bed and breakfast in India would meet the Kutoa criteria by contributing to an international non-profit organization that provides clean drinking water to people throughout the region. Likewise, a New York City business hotel would qualify by donating a portion of its profits to an after-school program for at-risk youth in the city.
We strongly encourage our Member Businesses to use environmentally green travel practices as well as socially green practices. Member Businesses should feature their environmentally responsible practices on their Kutoa profiles and demonstrate how they minimize their negative environmental footprint. However, environmental responsibility is not required to join Kutoa, and it does not alone meet our Selection Criteria. Our focus is to reach out and actively work to benefit and support local communities, not just refrain from harming them.
We rely on our network of travelers to monitor the socially green travel practices of our Member Businesses. We encourage all travelers to ask Member Businesses about their socially green projects and their impact on the local community. Member Businesses who are reportedly failing to follow socially green practices will be contacted by Kutoa and suspended from the service if necessary.
If your accommodation or excursion company is interested in becoming a Kutoa Member Business, please click here to begin filling out the brief application. It is currently 100% free to be listed on our site.