Geoffrey Kent was born on the plains of Africa. So was his business. When Kent and his parents launched their travel company Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) in 1962, they understood the importance of preserving the natural wonders and cultural traditions of the local communities. They were, after all, what Kent’s guests were coming to see.
Today Kent is still at the helm of the business, which is recognized as one of the world’s premier luxury travel company, providing memorable, inspiring adventures in more than 100 countries on all seven continents.
As the A&K business grew, so did its commitment to the communities it visited, and in 1982, the company founded a non-profit, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP). What began with raising funds for conservation efforts in the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya, has now spread to 42 projects in 22 countries.
A&K guests have the opportunity to visit these projects and support their further development. In fact, according to Keith Sproule, the AKP Executive Director, guest involvement is critical. “We believe that the interaction between the guests and these projects are transformational. When guests see the depth of commitment we have in the communities. It transforms their travel experiences,” Sproule says.
That depth of commitment begins with AKP working closely with community partners (local non-profits, governments, business owners and more) to identify their priorities–education, medical, etc. Once the objectives are determined, the group collectively develops a strategy to help ensure the success of the project.
Once the partners and strategy are in place, AKP hires a full-time community leader to oversee the project. The community leader will work closely with the Ministers of Education, Health or Environment on a national level to ensure support of the project. Every project is also registered as a 501C3, allowing visiting A&K guests to make tax-deductible donations.
According to Sproule, it is these community leaders, hired by AKP, that provide the transformational experience for A&K guests. “When guests come to the project they are given the full experience by a very knowledgeable community leader,” he says. “So the guests are well informed, and can see the impact their travel choices are making in the communities that they visit.”