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It’s Like ‘Habitat for Humanity’ But Funded by Backpacks on Kickstarter

May 9, 2016Posted by Terry Turner

Just hours before the earthquake in Ecuador hit, this duo was already planning a volunteer building project for the locals—and they were planning to do it their way. 

For the past three years, architects Danny Collins and Javier Roig have been using their vacation time to build homes for underprivileged people in places like Cambodia, Nepal, and Zambia. During one of their recent “volunteer-build” trips, they came up with an idea to make it easier to help people afford to do what they enjoy doing: helping.

Rather than working on a single house and leaving the country behind after a week, Project Latitude is designed to give volunteers the chance to have a more in-depth experience of local culture. As far as the funding goes, think of it as underwriting the high cost of this particular strain of volunteering.

Kickstarter Project Latitude

“Currently the system relies on us as volunteers to raise a hefty sum of funds, usually just asking people we know for financial support.” Collins said. “Our solution is to subsidize the high costs of these trips by selling products that are both inspired in design and produced by the community that their sales will eventually help.”

In December, this team plans to head out to Ecuador to help locals rebuild what was lost, a destination that had already been decided on just hours before the country was rocked by the 7.8 magnitude quake.

With more than 25,000 people left homeless and UNICEF estimating that as many as two whole towns may have to be completely relocated, the Kickstarter campaign hasn’t kicked off a moment too soon.

“Hopefully, this can help rebuild Ecuador’s future following April’s earthquakes,” Collins said.

To fund their project, Collins and Roig decided to design a series of environmentally-friendly backpacks made from tires, inspired by the Ecuador’s Andean culture and sell them on Kickstarter. This will pay the cost of volunteers’ travel expenses to build a new entrepreneur workshop and daycare center in the capital, Quito.

Fortunately, Project Latitude hit its $12,500 goal in just 36 hours and the campaign will run through the middle of May. It’s raised more than $20,000 so far.

Right now, though, the priority is to help those in crisis.

DSCF4067 copy-Project Lattitude

To fund the volunteer projects, Project Latitude plans to create product lines connected to a particular community. As long as that product — say the Ecuadorian-inspired backpacks — continue to sell, profits are set aside to help the community associated with it. 

True to the project’s name, each one will be marked with the latitude of the country or community that inspired it. Future products from their nonprofit Project Latitude will be inspired by — and support projects in — other countries.

The Ecuadorian backpacks have “00” stamped on the strap. That leaves 180 degrees in each of two directions — and a lot of the world — left to cover.

To learn more about their project, contribute to the cause, or find out how to get involved on their next trip, visit their Kickstarter page.

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