Voluntourism: JU alumni’s start-up ‘teaching tool’ for those growing up

For the start-up, Izifso, a voluntary travel platform for individuals and groups, Gopal Paul is in touch with several educational institutions and has already found support from his alma mater.

Written by Premankur Biswas | Kolkata | Updated: February 6, 2016 10:06 am
Gopal Paul, 27, has named the idea ‘voluntourism’. Gopal Paul, 27, has named the idea ‘voluntourism’.

A FORMER student of Jadavpur University has launched a one-of-its-kind start-up in the city that organises educational and voluntary tours for student groups. For the start-up, Izifso, a voluntary travel platform for individuals and groups, Gopal Paul is in touch with several educational institutions and has already found support from his alma mater.

“I wanted Izifso to be for individuals to express their desires via photography or writing blog where they can travel for free which we are calling voluntary travelling. They will go to some of the unique places which not only give them the pleasure of seeing a new place but they will learn so many things from those tours because professors, scientists or experts will always give them valuable information during their trip,” says Paul.

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The tours include options to go on a fossil hunting trek, musical trek, art village safari, wildlife and marine life study.
The 27-year-old, who hails from Kaliyaganj village in North Dinajpore district, says the idea of “voluntourism”, as he calls it, occurred to him when he was pursuing his MBA in Mumbai.

“People there warned me against launching a start-up in Bengal…(saying) the state is not conducive to such efforts. But that’s what egged me on. I wanted to prove people wrong,” said Paul who studied palaeontology at JU and completed his masters in 2012.

Since the launch, he said, his start-up has managed a “profit of 30 per cent”. “The profit model is simple, we keep a percentage from every trip that we organise.”

With charges anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 12,000 per person, the group has held tours in Pubung in Kalimpong, bird watching in Kolkata, village and wildlife tour in Jodhpur, art village safari in Odisha and geological tribal tour near Bastar.

“During our first tour to Pubung, we had organised an event “paint your imagination” for the local kids to teach them a little about painting,” he said.

He added: “We have many places in Bengal we can promote. We have seven different type of art forms and villages that are exclusively dedicated to them. We can start art village tour, we have every intention to promote these villages. If the government helps us, things will move very fast.”

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