On A World Different we have, until now, focused mostly on lodges and hotels and camps that make a difference to the world, but there are others in the travel industry that do it too. For instance, Micato Safaris, a company based in New York and specializing in luxury trips to Africa and India.
Owned by the Pinto family, Micato was started in 1966, when Felix and Jane Pinto bought a small transportation company in Kenya called Mini Cabs and Tours. Their son Dennis later founded Micato USA and began running luxury safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, soon expanding to offer trips in Southern Africa and India as well. (Though long-time Kenyans, the Pintos originally come from Goa.)
Dennis and his sister, Anna, grew up with Micato travelers regularly joining them for dinner at home, a ritual that continues to this day. All East Africa-bound Micato guests are welcomed to dinner at the Pinto home in Nairobi. This “Treat Guests like Family” brand of hospitality made an impression on the Pinto offspring, who now manage the company from New York (with Anna based in California).
Micato started its nonprofit arm 25 years ago. AmericaShare works to support the orphaned and vulnerable children and adults affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya. As a result of the company’s longstanding commitment to philanthropy, Micato has received several coveted travel-industry awards.
Firmly rooted in the Mukuru slum of Nairobi and fully funded by Micato (they pay all administrative costs), AmericaShare channels 100 percent of the donations of its safari guests, corporate partners, and industry colleagues directly to its projects in the Mukuru community. This includes a borehole for fresh water, a computer center with terminals dedicated to games designed to teach young people how to avoid HIV infection, a thriving library, and the revitalization of a nursery school and a special-needs classroom.
A core AmericaShare initiative is its School Sponsorship Program, which matches homeless and abandoned children as well as orphaned or vulnerable children with generous Micato travelers, who in turn sponsor the children to attend boarding school, usually for the duration of their high school years – and sometimes into university.
Micato furthered its philanthropic outreach in 2010 when the company introduced its revolutionary One for One Commitment, which places one impoverished child in school for every traveller that Micato hosts. In 2012, Micato extended this one for one concept beyond education, so for every one traveller they host Micato will also: donate one Huru Kit of desperately needed sanitary supplies to the girls of Mukuru, one book to the two Micato libraries in the Mukuru slum, one tree to the Nairobi Greenline Project, one gallon of water to Mukuru residents for every gallon used by Micato travelers.