Cycling 2,000 kilometres from Seattle to San Francisco on less than $3 a day doesn’t sound like most people’s idea of a dream US jaunt. But for Aussie travel entrepreneur Chris Ball, it’s the perfect way to harness his love of travel for a great cause.
The co-founder of responsible adventure travel company Adventure Honey will this month embark upon this journey of a lifetime to further the work of Spark International – an organisation that enables change where it’s needed most.
“Spark visits a developing country to find locals with social business ideas impacting 10s of people,” Chris explains.
“The mission is to then scale that idea so it’s impacting 100s and 1000s of people.”
It helps them do this through an intensive week-long accelerator program which gives them the necessary tools, and also by offering them support in the areas of legal, accounting, research and web development.
There are also micro-funding rounds of $250 available for those “changemakers” that need an additional boost.
His passion for the organisation’s work stems from his own travel experiences, he reveals – “from meeting and connecting with beautiful people suffering unimaginable hardship, but whose spirit and enthusiasm remain resolute.”
Rather than “throwing cash” at poverty and creating a reliance on handouts, Spark instead creates sustainable progress, he says.
At each stop on his epic ride along the west coast, the “global heartland of entrepreneurship”, Chris will share a presentation of how social entrepreneurship can help to end extreme poverty. The aim is to raise at least $15,000 to support 15 local changemakers in Papua New Guinea. Every additional $1,000 will support another changemaker.
But despite the months of cycling his daily 20km commute to work in preparation for the endeavour, he doesn’t expect it to be an easy ride.
“In the west, we live in a world where the Kardashians or the latest iPhone release draws more attention than how me be able to help the more than one billion people suffering extreme poverty,” he says.
“By living vicariously through me rising 2,000 kms on $3 a day for the cause, maybe a few people will feel compelled to join me and, in some small way, help with the solution.”
Travel can play a huge role in opening people’s eyes and minds to what is going on in the world, by breaking down differences and cutting through apathy.
“The alternative is isolation and ignorance, from which fear and discrimination is only a small step away,” Chris warns.
“Travel breaks down these barriers, which is awesome.”
To support Chris on his cycle with a difference or to find out more, head towww.seattle2sanfran.com. His ride takes place from August 25 until September 12, with the crowd funding campaign to come to a close on September 30.