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Supporting Indian Eco Tourism: A Catalyst for Mainstream Impact Investmen

Mainstream Impact Investment has been at the heart of Red Ribbon’s asset management strategy since the company was founded more than a decade ago. It helps calibrate the subtle economic interactions between targeted economic activity, our communities, wider society and our environment at large; just like a series of interlocking Russian Dolls, each layer intimately impacting on the next. And Red Ribbon’s involvement in the innovative EcoHotels Project in India is a good example of how this new investment paradigm works in practice.

The subcontinent currently has a chronic shortage of available hotel stock, but with Red Ribbon’s support, the EcoHotels Project looks to bridge that deficit in an environmentally friendly way, building attractive, eco friendly facilities that will serve India well over the long term.

But of course this isn’t enough in itself to maximise the positive impacts on local communities and the wider economy. You have to look too at how the Project sits within the next layers in the series; look carefully at what is happening in the wider community as well and in the environment at large.

It is encouraging to learn that on this criterion, the impact of the EcoHotels Project couldn’t be more positive.

India is now taking unprecedented steps to develop an infrastructure and eco economy that is as supportive of eco-tourism as possible. Take just two examples.

The Hill Station at Pachamalai has been attracting increasing numbers of tourists following its designation last month by the local government as an eco-tourism destination. Not only have tourists been flocking into the newly developed treetop houses on the Pachamalai Hills recently added by the Forestry Department, but some three hundred in the last month alone (mainly from Chennai) have also been making the most of the added environmental attractions of the area. A total of Rs 90,000 has been generated in the last month and will go towards not only maintenance of the facility, but also the welfare of the community at large.

Pachamalai District Forest Officer, Satheesh succinctly expressed the objectives of Mainstream Impact Investment when commenting on the project: “It gives a sense of satisfaction to the tourists, being able to contribute to the development of the local community and revenue generated from the Facility will be used to give community loans to locals in the upcoming months."

Layer after layer, the economic impact of the investment ripples through.

Then take a look at Nagpur where the Vidarbha Economic Development Council is making titanic efforts to promote eco-tourism, which, like the Pachamalai Project, will also serve as a key source of employment for the Region. The Council’s President drew attention to the delicate balance which needs to be nurtured: " Through ecotourism the States can conserve nature as well as gain financial benefits…. Ecotourism will generate much-needed jobs and income for the local people."

All of this gives initiatives like Red Ribbon’s Eco Hotel’s Project the best possible prospect of success in delivering above market rate returns for its investors with the maximum possible impact on the wider community and the environment. It’s exactly what Red Ribbon means by Mainstream Impact Investment.

Suchit Punnose

Suchit Punnose / About Author

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