Programa Andes Tropicales
Programa Andes Tropicales (PAT) is a private foundation whose mission is to conserve the tropical Andes region while creating social and economically sustainable alternatives for local communities. PAT seeks to achieve its goals by promoting community-based tourism in which local populations participate in every step of creating tourism enterprises, such as lodging and rental services. Families are supported in their endeavors through microfinance loans from Andes Tropicales. The final result is a network of posadas (called mucuposadas; mucu means ¨place of¨ in one of the languages native to the region ) that tourists can explore via hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Trips can last anywhere from 1 to 10 days.
Programa Andes Tropicales also supports the use of applied geography in sustainable development. The foundation uses several technological tools to understand the geography of new regions and to carefully plan each project. Maps are created by PAT, and downloadable maps are available online for tourists who have GPS devices.
PAT is based in Venezuela but has projects in other parts of Latin America, including Argentina and Bolivia. The organization was founded by Yves Lesenfants who in 2007 was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship, which supports leading social entrepreneurs throughout the world.