Mr Ben Keene (SPK02080)
- United Kingdom
- Account Type:
Described in National Geographic as 'the Sergey Brin of the South Pacific,' Ben Keene's quest in 2006 to create a new cross-cultural sustainable community on a Fijian island via a social network captured international attention.
Five years on Tribewanted and its Fijian partners have built their community, welcomed over 1000 tribe members – who have each played a part in its development – and invested over $2m fj into the local economy. In 2010 Ben launched the second tribe in Sierra Leone where he lived for a year.
The goal of the project is try and shift perceptions of the country to one closer to the present reality: a safe, beautiful and exciting destination where eco-tourism can play an important development role.
Born and bought up in England, Ben's mission to play a part in the mainstreaming of sustainable tourism began as he chatted to his Tanzanian guide during the decent of Mt.Kilimanjaro aged 18. Inspired by this experience Ben began to work with a young development travel company, Madventurer, whilst he was at university studying politics. Leading volunteer and overland expeditions in Africa became a full-time position upon graduation.
Early in 2006, an email and a South Pacific prophecy took him to Vorovoro Island in Fiji where the search for a new tribe began. Ben has written a book and appeared in a major BBC documentary series based on Tribewanted. The project has won a handful of digital media and innovation awards and has been nominated for responsible tourism acolades. In 2009 Ben took part as a judge alongside Lonely Planet's Tony Wheeler and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Mathai, in the Changemakers Geotourism competition.
Ben's focus is on turning one island community into an international network of cross-cultural tribes that closely share the local development, culture and impact with their online members and audiences, in Ben's words: 'there's no reason why the best and most inspiring vacations should finish the day you go home. Tribes – people connected to one another, a leader, and an idea – can change the way we all live, for the better.'
Ben also works with Right to Dream – an NGO in Ghana, Sierra Leone, UK & US – that gives underprivileged talent the chance to fulfil their potential through sport, education and personal development. His most recent project has been to help found Fair Trade Volunteering – a new standard for fairness in the sector. In 2012 he is joining THNK – the Amsterdam School for Creative Leadership as one of its founding participants.
Ben has something of Richard Branson's boundless, relentless enthusiasm.
The best speech at the conference by a mile.
Chris Cramer, former President
Everyone found Ben's session and presence inspirational.
Dame Jo Williams, Chief Executive