How to inspire young people for 30 years

It turns out I might have been inspired to start this blog more than 20 years ago, and this story goes back even further than that.

This summer, I spent time on deserted beaches, lush hillsides, and walking in an unusual way up a beautiful glen in the Isle of Man.

And it’s not just me that thinks it’s special.

Biosphere Vannin

I was happy to learn that the Isle of Man is preparing to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

No, this doesn’t mean it’ll have a huge dome placed over the top of it, and the government will preserve it as it is for the next 100 years.

It means that the Island has a balanced and diverse mix of ecosystem and population, and that it’s worth well managing that mix.

Biosphere reserves are places where nature can flourish and the local economy can grow. I’m looking forward to seeing this project develop, especially as it will almost certainly help outdoor adventure and education organisations like the Venture Centre.

For more details and videos, go to the brand new Isle of Man Biosphere Vannin website.

The Venture Centre

About the same time as I was becoming a 13-year-old social investor, I visited the Venture Centre with school friends. Continue reading

3 Ways to Stimulate Innovation on an Island

I live in London, but the Isle of Man is my homeland. It’s a beautiful place to grow up. It’s also a pretty great independent economic microcosm. If you can test out an innovative business on the Isle of Man, and succeed with it, it might just be scalable around the world.

What do you already know about the Isle of Man? The TT motorbike races? Mark Cavendish? The special tax laws?

None of the above? If you’ve spent any time with me, you’ll know that I love to talk about it.

The question everyone asks: is it a country?

No, not exactly. It’s a self-governing British Crown Dependency, which is not part of the UK. It is one of the oldest continuous democratic governments in the world. That’s why I’m so diplomatic.

What’s the vision?

After a recent meeting with the Government Department for Economic Development, it was great to learn that the Island has the ambition to become an international hub for tech and e-business innovation.

Not a lot of people know that e-business is the fastest growing sector of the economy on the Island, and it’s estimated to provide 90% of the economic growth in the Island’s emerging business sectors by 2020.  That’s a lot of growth from tech entrepreneurs.  How can we make it happen?

How the Island can stimulate innovation

  • Increase coworking options

Continue reading

Copacabana or Ramsey – The Final Beach Walking Video?

Farewell for now Brazil. It was a wonderful journey.  I hope you enjoyed following the adventures, and the inspiring stories from the social entrepreneurs.  Have you been inspired to take your own Inspiring Adventure?  I hope so!

Together with you, I visited all five regions of the fifth largest country in the world in just over five weeks.  I feel very lucky to have been able to meet and share the stories of more than 15 social entrepreneurs with you.

Inspiring Adventures is now has more 2600 followers. My fun YouTube videos have been viewed more than 50,000 times, and my articles are starting to be published on major online content providers. Thank you for your interest and support!

I feel very grateful that my stories will continue to spread, and I am happy to be part of a positive journalistic movement.  I strongly believe that we can all find amazing people doing inspiring work where ever we look.  From exotic locations on the other side of the world, to right in our own local neighbourhood.

As you can tell from the video, I’m now back in the UK. I will continue to share fun adventures, along with stories to inspire you to start your own adventures.

The journey is the reward

How to fund a bird park – Ask a 13 year old

My connection with Parque Das Aves goes all the way back to my school days.  I didn’t know it then, but at 13 years old, I had an influence on the fortunes of what is now the largest bird park in Latin America.

In 1995, two years into following his dream to set up a bird park in Brazil, Dennis Croukamp was looking for more investment.

At the time, Dennis and his wife, Anna lived on the Isle of Man. As you might know already, or perhaps heard me mention in my Iguassu video, I’m also from the Isle of Man – that lovely little island in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland.

To raise money, Dennis was selling his Mercedes-Benz.  And who was interested in it, apart from a 13 year Richard?  My father was, and he invited me along for the test drive… Continue reading

How to set up a Social Enterprise in Iguassu Falls – Parque Das Aves

“One of the most interesting concepts from the bird park story is that, when starting your own enterprise, it’s never possible to correctly assess all the risks or the possibility of success.

Successful enterprise is about just starting something and then going all out, fighting to the death and developing your product as you go along. Most people are far too sensible to start their own business.”

Carmel Croukamp, Park Das Aves

I first met the Croukamps on the Isle of Man.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of people visit their park, but how many of them know and understand what it took to get started?  That is the story I would like them to share with you.

In Carmel’s own words:

The Bird Park

The Bird Park is a social and conservation enterprise in the endangered Atlantic Rainforest. We’re set right next to the Iguassu National Park, home of the magnificent Iguassu Falls. We make our money from tourism, charging entry fees for a unique experience of close contact with native birds in the jungle. This enables us to breed native and endangered species, conduct scientific research and educate locals on the environment.

duck-1

The Beginning

Parque das Aves Brazil was started by Dennis and Anna Croukamp in 1993. Dennis was an entrepreneur, Anna a vet. They both fell in love with parrots when a friend gave them a tiny, bald, ugly baby African Grey parrot, which they hand raised and which became a member of the family, flying free outside during the day, eating at the dinner table and going to sleep under a tea towel on Dennis’ lap every evening. Eventually, they had quite a collection of parrots.

When they retired to the Isle of Man, Dennis got very bored. One day, a former manager of his came to visit and told Dennis of this place in Brazil with the most beautiful waterfalls, and that he thought they should build a crocodile farm there together. Dennis said, “I don’t like crocodiles, I like birds”.

Opportunity, and Tragedy

The idea was initially just to put together a project and to raise capital from larger investors. In those days, the Brazilian currency, the Cruzeiro, was still in hyperinflation, and the rule of law, actually only few years after the collapse of the dictatorship, was pretty sparse, especially in the notorious Triple Frontier (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina) region. The Ernst and Young handbook on how to do business in Brazil said: “Don’t”.

Almost inevitably, the investment deals fell through. Dennis lost his business partner, and he was left with the decision of losing all the capital he had put up so far, or of going all in and risking his entire retirement fund to finance it all himself. Dennis was passionate about this project. He decided to risk everything.

He spoke no Portuguese, he knew nothing about building a zoo or of tourism, in a climate fundamentally uninviting to entrepreneurship. He poured all the money he had left into the park. Dennis and Anna sold their cars, jewelry, everything of value (Richard: In fact, my father bought Dennis Croukamp’s car).

They started building. When they ran out of money, they opened the park to a small trickle of visitors. Then Dennis died.

Continued here…