The Fortaleza Tour in Panama City is a walking tour set up by rehabilitated graduates of the Esperanza Social Venture Club.
Travelers in search of an authentic experience can provide excellent business opportunities for local people in developing economies. We have already seen successful examples such as Backstreet Academy and EatWith. Now, the Fortaleza Tour in Panama City is a walking tour set up by rehabilitated graduates of the Esperanza Social Venture Club — an organization dedicated to demobilizing Panama’s street gangs, integrating their members into society, and improving the area’s economy.
The Fortaleza Tour of the Old City was conceived by former members of the Ciudad de Dios gang, after they completed the Esperanza Social Venture Club’s 10-week intervention program. The tour begins at the American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo, an area which has been central to gang culture. The tour guides tell the history of the area and their personal stories, as they show the visitors their hangouts, their mothers’ homes and gang graffiti. The tour ends at a street party, where guests can pay USD 10 for dinner and a mojito.
The walking tour received funding from the Esperanza Social Venture Club after a three-week incubator. Tours last 80 minutes and cost USD 15. Could similar initiatives work in other cities?