La Mano del Mono

We strengthen biodiversity conservation in more than 70 Protected Areas by developing local sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism

Photo of Mauricio Martinez-Miramontes
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Mauricio Martinez Miramontes

Initiative's representative date of birth

24th August 1983

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Mexico

Headquarters location: city

Chiapas. Now with Remote Team using Remote Team Work Tools and Sociocracy governance model.

Where are you making a difference?

70 Protected Areas of Mexico, with strong emphasis on Biosphere Reserve El Triunfo, Lacandona Rainforest, Oaxaca Coast and Copper Canyon (Sierra Tarahumara) and Mexican Neovolcanic Axis.

Website or social media url(s)

Date Started

April 2009

Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €100k - €250k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

“Do what you are passionate about, give your 100%, share it and the rest in life is only a consequence” (Juanita grandma, 2002) This phrase was expressed to Mauricio by his grandma at the time of choosing his professional career and has been his life’s compass in which he firmly believes. He finally chose to study Biology. After university, he traveled to the Lacandon Rainforest and was surprised to saw huge extentions of cattle instead of jungle understanding that more than 70% of the rainforest had been destroyed during the last 50 years and Mayan communities migrated due to the lack of opportunities. Since then, he promotes protected areas as experiential learning sites through ecotourism to strengthen local sustainable livelihoods

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Unfortunately in just 50 years, more than 50% of the forests have been deforested, more than 50% of the rural population migrated to cities with high levels of marginalization, due to lack of economic opportunities in their own lands. More than 85% of most biodiverse protected areas are owned by rural communities. Nevertheless, more than 50% of them live in poverty. We can't expect to conserve biodiversity on these conditions. It is crucial to strengthen sustainable livelihoods in local communit

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

La Mano del Mono strengths sustainable livelihoods in rural and indigenous communities living in the most biodiverse protected areas of Mexico, through the development of social business models combining ecotourism and experiential education through 6 specialized services: - Co-creation of Sustainable Destinations: Strategies and public policy development for tourism in protected areas. - Market Ready Training: Professionalization of community-based enterprises to access specialized high valued tourism markets. - Experiential Facilitation: Events to integrate key stakeholders into biodiversity conservation. - Alive teams: Team Building programs in protected areas for corporations to engage them into conservation. - Experiential Classroom: Experiential learning curricula to engage students into biodiversity conservation and rural development. - Water Routes: The privilege to travel along water travels, in order to engage tourists into conservation and rural development These strategies have strengthened sustainable livelihoods in 3,200 rural and indigenous families and have contributed to management and conservation of biodiversity in 70 protected areas in Mexico.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

La Mano del Mono has developed very specialized and innovative strategies and business models to engage key stakeholders into conservation, combining ecotourism and experiential learning. - Creating market based conservation models in protected areas of Mexico: - Market Ready Model in order to create market incentives for sustainable practices in ecotourism and creates certainty in the industry: The main innovation is developing a market and systematic approach to use protected areas as learning sites and engage different stakeholders such as corporations, government, students, communities and tourists.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

That's our core purpose: "unir manos locales para crear cambios globales" (Bring together local hands to co-create global changes). During the last 10 years we have created successful strategies to engage key stakeholders into biodiversity conservation through sustainable ecotourism. Government: Co-creating 3 public policies for conservation and tourism NGOs: +70 strategies of conservation and tourism in protected areas Corporations: +100 corporations promoting sustainable practices in urban areas Universities: +500 students lived experiential learning programs in protected areas Rural communities: +3,200 families complement livelihoods with sustainable tourism We have facilitated +20 national and international collaboration workshops, combining ecotourism and experiential education: REDD+ projects in Mexico: Examples of collaboration events:

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

"Quetzales are coming back, their population is recovering a lot. And tourism has a lot to do it. We used to hear only one quetzal vocalization per month, nowadays every group can hear them right here. You can see the changes". Enelfo. Ranger from the most biodiverse Biosphere Reserve. Testimony of how tourism is contributing to discourage illegal hunting and logging in protected areas +170 ecotourism community-based enterprises strengthen and linked to market dynamics +6,300 people who have lived transformative experiences through nature-based tourism and experiential education in protected areas. +3,200 people from rural communities trained on ecotourism business areas. + 100 ecotourism guides certified. 3 Public policies on Sustainable Ecotourism Indirect impact: +4,320 families and +21,600 people in rural communities living in protected areas complement their sustainable livelihoods with ecotourism

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

"We are here to take care of our jungle. Our parents led us this heritage: our culture, our animals. We want to leave this to our children. But some animals, have no more jungle" Don Kin, Lacandona Jungle. The Market Ready Platform will replicate the Marke Ready Model in different nature-based destinations in Latin America aiming to: Promote sustainable practices through market incentives. Integrate community-based enterprises into sustainable tourism market dynamics. Creating "intelligent data" for investing in biodiversity-based tourism destinations We co-created 3 public policies to scale models and impact 182 protected areas and +1000 social enterprises

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

"My most impressive experience is understanding me as part of humanity and natural environment, this has been revealing to me" Pilar, one of our Alumni Our shared value for society includes: - More than 3,200 rural and indigenous families living in protected areas allowing to complement their livelihoods through ecotourism - Providing guidelines to managers of 182 Protected Areas to develop sustainable tourism in the most biodiverse sites. - Facilitating tools for investment decisions on tourism in most biodiverse protected areas.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

The financial model of La Mano del Mono is based on income generation through specialized services combining ecotourism, experiential education and conservation. The average annual income is USD$119,500 distributed in this way: · Co-creation of nature destinations: 37% · Market Ready Capacity Building: 27% · Experiential Facilitation: 10% · Alive teams: 15% · Experiential classroom: 3% · Water Routes: 8% We are promoting Alive Teams to engage more coorprate sector on conservation and also to scale the Market Ready Platform to Destinations in LATAM to expand income revenues. These allies and costumers have joined to La Mano del Mono Model.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

This is currently the organizational structure of La Mano del Mono: We are currently migrating to a Hybrid Model in order to respond to strategic needs of funding and market services. At the same, time we are creating a "Sociocratic Governance Model" to share power and responsibilities with clarity among the team. During this process we are creating the "Purpose Cycle" to join board members.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

"Quetzales are coming back, their population is recovering a lot. And tourism has a lot to do it. We used to hear only one quetzal vocalization per month, nowadays every group can hear them right here. You can see the changes". Enelfo. Ranger from the most biodiverse Biosphere Reserve. In Oaxaca Coast, one "bag of marine turtle eggs" with 1000 of eggs has a market price of $10USD. Each "huevero" (person who takes out the turtles eggs" needs half a day to take out one bag of eggs. Certified tourism guides offering tourism experiences at the beach are earning "$100USD" for half a day of work, conserving turtles. This Testimonies make clear how tourism is contributing to discourage ilegal hunting and logging in of key species in protected areas. Creating market incentives for sustainable practices and biodiversity conservation is regenerating biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

We, honestly, don't use the concept "beneficiaries". We believe we have no beneficiaries. We bring together different kind of stakeholders with different services. Guides Certification experience. I will let Carlos Pescador, Director of EXXI Adventures, to share his experience: Experiential Facilitation experience. Lorenzo Rosenweig, ex director of the Mexican Fund for Nature Conservation, shares his experience: He participated in the National Workshop: "Our nature, Our business" to integrate market based strategies for conservation in protected areas of Mexico. Tourism experiences co-creation Other example can be provided by Ermenegildo from Tarahumara and Experiencias Raramuri, which were awarded as the best cultural tourism experience in Mexico

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

There are different organizations and allies contributing to solve this problem from different approaches: Some of the key players in our region are: ATTA: Adventure Travel Trade Association Adventure Travel Conservation Fund Red Turismo Sustentable Sustentur Ecoturismo Genuino We have collaborated with all of them and we believe we create stronger impact working together. Our value proposition is mainly based on some key different aspects: The Market Ready Model is a completely innovative model for Latin America which integrates community-based tourism enterprises into market dynamics and strengths directly sustainable livelihoods. Other differentiation is our focus on public policy, which has support the development of the key mexican norms to regulate tourism Another key differentiation is that we bring visitors to the community-based tourism enterprises during the low seasons (corporate groups and academic groups) complementing livelihood along the year.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

Yes. We have received different national and international awards on tourism, nature conservation, social entrepreneurship and education for sustainable development. Further details can be found in the CV attached to the application. Some examples: The best cultural experience, the best nature tourism experience in mexico, LATAM award on responsible tourism, most impactful social enterprise in Mexico, Award on nature conservation organiza

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

The financial model of La Mano del Mono is based on income generation through specialized services combining ecotourism, experiential education and conservation. The average annual income is USD$119,500 distributed on this way: · Co-creation of nature destinations: 37% · Market Ready Capacity Building: 27% · Experiential Facilitation: 10% · Alive teams: 15% · Experiential classroom: 3% · Water Routes: 8% Our last year revenues sources are represented in this way: Corporate costumers: 42% Individual donations: 0% International Funding: 5% National Organizations funding: 32% Crowdfunding: 0% Individual costumers: 8% Government funding: 13% Others: 0%

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

We will invest the prize on the Market Ready Platform in order to scale the model to Latinamerica. This platform has 3 main objectives: Community-based and social enterprises: Provide with tools and specialized training to strengthen sustainable practices and operational, business and market skills and tools. Nature-based destination managers: They will access key intelligent information about their destinations, considering market perspective and sustainable livelihoods perspective, in order to facilitate decision making on investment for sustainable tourism in protected areas and fight against poverty and increase sustainable incomes for conservation. Market key players: They will acces with certainty to community-based enterprises with sustainable practices to integrate them into the value chain. Furthermore, this platform will allow to share stories to inspire other people to have immersive experiences in nature hiring sustainable and social enterprises in Latinamerica

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far


Yes, absolutely! - 25%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 25%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 25%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 50%

3—Somewhat, the entry speaks to biodiversity but the direct impact is not well established and/or it is focused on a single species without considering its impact on the broader ecosystem - 25%

2—Not really, the connection to biodiversity is weak - 0%

1—No. The entry does not reference the solution’s impact on biodiversity. - 0%

3. 3) Is this entry IMPACTFUL?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 75%

4- Yes, I think so. - 0%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 0%

3- Maybe. - 50%

2- Probably not. - 25%

1- No. - 0%

5. 5) Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 75%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%


5 -Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think so. - 25%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

7. 7) Does this entry value COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS in its approach?

5- Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

8. 8) FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions - 50%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 50%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 100%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

Other option - 0%

9. 9) FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 100%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

Other option - 0%

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