Entrepreneur stories: Chloe Lingard
09 January 2023
MSc Entrepreneurship graduate Chloe Lingard spent autumn 2022 in Madagascar with a team of volunteers undertaking various activity to launch her voluntourism company, TSAP Travel.
Tell us about your venture TSAP Travel
TSAP Travel is a not for profit igniting change, delivering impact, and leaving a legacy in Madagascar. We achieve this through recruiting students and graduates to share their skills and knowledge in Madagascar as changemakers. We partner with various organisations, skills, and businesses across Madagascar to ensure we provide appropriate and needed support to the Malagasy community.
How did the idea come about?
In 2019 I volunteered as an English teacher in Madagascar. I was only 19 and had never taught a class before. I soon realised the impact I was having on the community was static and short-term. I returned from three months in Madagascar wishing I had done more for the Malagasy community than teaching English, despite it being a useful skill for the community. It was never in the volunteer organisation’s plan to support the community in using it effectively to gain employment.
Throughout my degree, I did a lot of research into the voluntourism sector and discovered that Madagascar often wasn’t on people’s radar for travel or volunteering abroad and there were few organisations supporting communities effectively. Unfortunately, there is a lot of corruption in Madagascar, meaning despite the financial aid they are provided, it often doesn’t go to support the people. Meanwhile, the organisations that do exist to help the local people are reliant on volunteers being in Madagascar to deliver their projects.
Tell us about your pilot project and the aims?
Our three-month pilot project was an incredible success, we were able to learn a lot about the needs of the Malagasy community, build partnerships and deliver a variety of impact across the island of Nosy be. We set out on a mission to develop our understanding of the culture, their needs and how we could best support them, with the goal being to:
- engage with 50 people
- start two businesses
- support three businesses
- deliver five employability workshops
- achieve two partnerships
- upskill 40 people
With the help of volunteers Patrick Rutherford and Yasmine Knox and Filmmaker Giles Pitman, we were able to surpass many of our aims and positively impact even more people in Madagascar.
How was the experience?
Throughout the three months there were many times where I said it felt like I was in a dream that I was soon going to wake up from. There were many moments where I looked at the team and wondered how we ended up there because they were so magical and unexpected. There were also many moments when things didn’t go to plan and I had to problem solve to the best of my ability in a developing country, with a language barrier, and I’m proud to say together we were able to overcome those difficult moments.
What’s next for TSAP travel?
We are currently in the process of writing an impact report, highlighting what we achieved during our pilot. And in March I will be returning to Madagascar to deliver some staff training, resources and some in-country planning for our next three-month project taking place from August to October 2023.
How have you been supported by Falmouth University and Launchpad?
I completed my undergraduate business and management degree at Falmouth University and towards the end of my degree they helped me incorporate The Sustain Ability Project CIC (AKA TSAP Travel). I enjoyed being part of the Cornwall Business School so much, I decided to continue my studies with the MSc Entrepreneurship course (based in Falmouth Launchpad).
Being based in Launchpad I was able to gain a variety of support from academics, business coaches and entrepreneurs in residence. Having their guidance ensured TSAP Travel was on a successful path, as they helped me network with people in the industry, and provided advice and guidance.
What is your top tip for someone thinking about taking the plunge and starting their own venture?
When starting your own venture, I believe the most valuable thing you can do is find critical friends. This might be surprising to some but finding people who are willing to provide constructive criticism and challenge your idea is invaluable. Often people shy away from gaining a variety of feedback and lean on people who love their idea and consistently provide positive feedback. However, when you’re trying to grow a business, positivity isn’t always helpful, especially if your current strategy isn’t successful.
Finding who will push you and your business to move forward and improve will give you the strength to take constructive criticism from future customers and investors and propel your venture.