I interview Jessica Hansen, Global Engagement Manager for Kiva (the world’s largest microfinance non-profit) and a lifelong traveler who is deeply committed to doing good in the world. It is difficult to know what impact our jet-setting has, and how much money is actually going into the local economy rather than benefiting other parts of the tourism industry. It’s also hard to know which voluntourism organizations are actually helping, versus those that (while well-intentioned) are actually hurting people or environment they seek to serve.

Jessica talks about what to look for when seeking to do good while traveling, what are red flags, and which organizations are doing incredible work in regards to social impact travel. She also shares some of her own personal travel journeys, and what led her to embark on a life of international service.

Check out Jessica Hansen’s TEDx Talk: The Power of ‘We’ and how Technology Connects Us for Good

What you’ll learn

  • What led Jessica to embark on a life of travel and international service
  • How she navigates fears that still sometimes come with solo traveling
  • How good intentions can sometimes end up inadvertently doing harm in low-resource countries
  • The career path that led her to Kiva, a non-profit international micro-financing organization
  • Information about Kiva and how they provide loans through crowdsource funding
  • How her current work is leading her to new, diverse travel experiences
  • How “voluntourism” isn’t always what it appears to be, and can sometimes do harm
  • Things to look for when researching voluntourism experiences
  • Things to ask yourself, and be thoughtful about, in general when traveling
  • Organizations that provide immersive travel experiences that also make a positive impact


  • Kiva – Loans that Change Lives
  • Lokal – Book immersive local experience and sustainable lodges around the world
  • Local Alike – Good Traveling, Lasting Impact
  • Visit.Org – Travel for the 21st Century: Every experience is for a cause
  • Global Sustainable Tourism Council – The Global Baseline Standards for Sustainable Travel and Tourism
  • Indosole – Shoes that help prevent tires from polluting the environment

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