Startup Stories: Golfing for Elephants L3C

In Kenya, with her face painted by the Maasai

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Golfing for Elephants L3C is a responsible golf tourism company that caters to amateur Chinese golfers. We host friendship tournaments in the USA and Kenya that celebrate a world of luxury without ivory. China buys 70% of the world’s ivory. We invite China’s wealthy to play golf. Exclusive brands will sponsor our events, promoting luxury alternatives. 50% of our profits will go to Kenya’s anti-poaching efforts. If demand for ivory is unchecked, African elephants will be extinct by 2020.

Golfing for Elephants incorporates social and environmental justice by disrupting problematic consumer behavior in China. We will foster Chinese spending on anti-poaching efforts by offering exciting luxury international golf tourism vacations that create jobs in the USA and Kenya, and sharing half our profit with nonprofit organizations that fight poaching. I am considering charities such as The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and others, funding the war against poaching with conservation drones, conservancy dogs, de-snaring programs, aerial surveillance units and more.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
During a 3-week visit to Africa in December 2011, I saw wild elephants in the bush and at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, where I adopted a baby orphaned by poachers. I learned how elephants are disappearing in Rwanda, where only 17 remain (IUCN 2013). At Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda I saw the skull of the park’s last elephant, killed in 1999. I saw the tree seeds elephants had loved to eat, and thereby grew forests. There are only a few elephants left in Rwanda. After the Nairobi mall attack in 2013, I read how Chinese ivory demand must stop to end poaching that funds terrorism. In November 2013, I was finishing my MBA at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and I read how golf is growing in popularity in China. I linked this trend to ivory demand reduction in an entrepreneurship paper.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
The customer problem for the Chinese is there are only 700 golf courses. Due to limited water and agricultural land, a maximum of only 1,500 will likely ever be built in China (Larmer 2013; Barton, Chen & Jin 2013). Due to scarce courses, golf will likely retain its elite, high-priced status in China. The solution is that the US — a top destination for the Chinese — has 15,000 golf courses (Larmer 2013) and less pollution. China is the world’s top spender on overseas travel: US$102 billion in 2012 (UNWTO 2013). Wealthy Chinese will increasingly seek overseas solutions for golfing, a new and growing sport in China.

Kenya’s 44 million people (Cia.gov) will be safer without an ivory war. Prices will drop as wealthy Chinese stop buying ivory. Fewer shipments will be seized because less will be trafficked. The ivory supply chain will collapse; fewer poachers will be paid to kill elephants. Al-Qaeda backed terrorists will not be funded by ivory sales, improving global security. Park rangers will not be killed by poachers. More workers will be in tourism, reducing poverty and saving wildlife habitat. Kenya’s elephants will be viewed more valuable alive than dead, and their numbers will rebound back to 160,000 from 38,000 (Rao 2013).

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
The immediate challenge is to secure funding so that I can continue devote myself full-time to Golfing for Elephants. I recently pitched to a group of social investors and applied to a social entrepreneurship accelerator.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
Determined.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I just signed up, but I’m looking forward to meeting helpful business connections here.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
If you bring tourists to the USA, it’s considered exporting. The US Export Service has lots of resources. See http://export.gov/arizona/ourservices/index.asp

Company: Golfing for Elephants L3C

Website:

Follow my organization on social media here:
@golf4elephants
www.facebook.com/golfingforelephants

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