Meet Visit.org – Global Adventurers Making a Difference
On a Skype call to France with Violaine Pierre, one of the founders, along with Michal Alter, of Visit.org, a social impact travel platform.
Tell us about Visit.org.
Violaine: It’s a technology platform for tours and activities offered by nonprofit and community-based organizations around the world. It’s not volunteering – it’s educational activities that you would pay for – work is not involved.
What are your favorite Visit trips that you have been on?
Violaine: I’ve been on six or seven. The first one was in the Philippines to an organization that decided 20 years ago to start planting trees in a field that was all mud, and now it is a beautiful mangrove tree forest that is a natural barrier against typhoons. The community is very excited about it, and when you visit it, you become very passionate about it.
And two months ago, I was in Kyrgyzstan. I visited an organization there doing environmental action. The tour is spending three days riding in mountains with people from Kyrgyzstan.
How did you come to start Visit.org initially?
Violaine: I was in Senegal working for the World Bank, and Michal was in New York. We didn’t know each other, but a common friend introduced us, because she knew we shared these interests. I was looking to start my own company and was interested in nonprofit tourism. Michal had this idea for Visit.org, and when I heard about it, I thought, wow, this what I want to do. We started talking and talking and talking, and decided to do it.
And did you do prior to working at the World Bank?
Violaine: I studied Economics at Sciences Po in Paris. I did a year abroad in the Philippines where I had a microfinance internship, and then did a lot internships abroad. I went to Haiti just after the earthquake. I went to India, I went to Quebec to work for a community-based tourism organization, and then back to the Phillipines.
That was really when I wanted to start my company, but I hadn’t met Michal yet. I was feeling really alone with my business idea. I went to Senegal for a year where I worked for the World Bank, and I also consulted with UNICEF remotely.