Since its launch in 2006, when Keene set up Tribewanted, an online tribal community, the project has injected more than $1m into the local Fijian community on the island of Vorovoro; a model which founder Ben Keene hopes to replicate in Sierra Leone.
But what is an online tribal community, you ask” The idea is to create a social network where members can help make decisions about a real-life community, and even visit the community themselves.
Keene and his tribe aimed to create a sustainable community on an island, while learning the language and customs of a local tribe, from whom they had rented the island.
It’s been very successful thus far, signing up over 10,000 members to the online community, 1,100 of which have gone on to visit the island.
Keene explains: “Tribewanted on Vorovoro in Fiji has become a way of life for visiting members and the local community. People find it very hard to leave – they feel like they’ve come home. It’s been clear for a while we should try and take the model elsewhere.”
Therefore, this coming October, a new group of visitors will head to Sierra Leone’s John Obey Beach, 20 miles south of the capital, Freetown, and try to build a new life alongside the local fishing community.
Tribewanted Sierra Leone is working with the government, landowners and the local John Obey community to create an eco-village community, which will support sustainable development.
“We want people from all walks of life, with all kinds of skills and interests to join the tribe,” continues Keene. “It’s your chance to play a part in kick-starting the right kind of tourism in a country that needs it.”
Tribe members will be able to book their visit to John Obey at a cost of £295 per week, which will cover their stay, all meals and a contribution to the community development. Members will also be able to earn “tribe time” by shopping with Tribewanted partners online.
For the travel side of the project, Tribewanted has teamed up with travel company Black Tomato, which won a Real Business Cisco Customer King gong last year.