About Us

About Social Impact Traveller

Are you a Social Impact Traveller?

Social Impact Travellers are people who want to take a break from their day-to-day and go on vacation. We want to explore new cultures, meet new people, try new foods.

We want to venture further and, for the most part, we are open to whatever adventure we come across. Some of us have big dream trips that we are saving for – those once-in-a-lifetime trips that fuel our inspiration and passion.

All that said, we are also people who care about the communities we visit; we are respectful to different cultures and we are open to seeing life from a new point of view. We may not all be eco-warriors, but we do care about protecting our environment and wildlife. We also want to feel good about where we spend our travel dollars, and know that we are making a positive impact. We care about empowering the communities we visit in meaningful ways.

Social Impact Traveller Journey in Fogo Island, Newfoundland

Social Impact Traveller

We created Social Impact Traveller to help like-minded travellers book the best when it comes to the kinds of trips and destination that Social Impact Travellers want and love. We continue to cull through the abundance of information and offerings coming from the travel industry to identify opportunities that are truly making a positive social impact. We provide expert advice and only promote tours that we have experienced first-hand.

We have created a collection of Social Impact Travel Journeys. These are all experiences we have tested and highly recommend. They can be done as custom or in a group, that’s your call.

The Social Impact Traveller Approach

  • Promote travel experiences that have a positive impact on the communities we visit.
  • Work with travel partners that are conscious of social impact choices, which include supporting local economies, being respectful of culture, and making responsible travel choices.
  • Invest in carbon offsets to help mitigate our flight impact.
  • Promote responsible travel initiatives in mass tourism.
  • When animals are involved, we choose travel experiences that put conservation first.
  • Provide charitable donations to support communities we travel in.

Social Impact Traveller is not about voluntourism or poverty-tourism.

Full Service

We can help you at any stage of your journey – from inspiration to booking. We work with a trusted, TICO-licensed travel agency in Ontario for all of our bookings. We are keen to work with more travel agencies and share the Social Impact Traveller Journeys collection, so that more people can experience these selected journeys.

Karen Leiva, founder

Social Impact Traveller Karen LeivaKaren is a Social Impact Traveller. With a passion for community building, charity work and travel, Karen has dedicated her career for the last 20 years to working for not-for-profit and media agencies.  In recent years, working with the Ensemble Travel Group and Polo Travel Ltd, Karen recognized the opportunity to blend her passion for non-profit and travel through the creation of Social Impact Traveller.

Karen built her expertise in international development and humanitarian aid through more than a decade of work with organizations such as Unicef Canada, Canadian Red Cross and providing freelance support to Cuso International. Through these organizations, she learned the value of empowering communities in respectful ways. Her humanitarian work took her to Sierra Leone to work alongside a child ambassador who was injured in war; meeting with street kids in Panama City, and supporting a disaster response in Micronesia, a small group of islands in the South Pacific that had been struck by typhoons.

These days, Karen is focused on merging her experience in world humanitarian work with leisure travel in a way that is genuine and meaningful. There is a lot of ‘green wash’ and talk about responsible travel in the industry – Karen is applying a critical and experienced eye to various products to offer sound advice to travellers.

She is the editor of the award-winning Vacations magazine by the Ensemble Travel Group working regularly with Ensemble’s network of preferred-suppliers in the tourism industry, as well as travel agents and travel writers. She has been recruited as a speaker and trainer to help travel agents build their understanding of social media tools, and has run marketing campaigns to generate leads in travel. Karen is also a licensed TICO travel agent.

As part of Social Impact Traveller, Karen is working alongside tour operators to develop meaningful travel tours and experiences, and advise agencies on corporate social responsibility practices.

International Leadership

Karen’s drive and commitment to social justice is reflected through her role as the founder of the Nzirambi Education Fund for orphaned children in Uganda. The Nzirambi Education Fund was created to ensure education for those a part of The Nzirambi Orphan Talent Development Centre (NOTDEC), an family-run centre, primarily funded by NOTDEC UK, that has 160 orphaned and vulnerable children who range in age from newborns and up. Many of the children lost their mothers in childbirth and their fathers could not, or would not, care for them. Karen spearheaded the scholarship fund, raising over $100,000 to fund 10 children from the orphanage for university, college, vocational programs, as well as senior levels of high school. Higher levels of education are especially critical for these children, giving them additional resources to become leaders in their communities and break free of the cycle of poverty that has defined their families for far too long.