What is your life’s purpose?
To inspire and encourage people to explore the world… and become philanthropists along the way.
How are you living your purpose?
My sister and I started our own socially responsible tourism company in 2008 called The Village Experience. We focus on creating adventurous, educational, and immersive programs for our network of travelers to places such as Kenya, India, Guatemala, Morocco, Egypt, and Zanzibar. We strive to create as many jobs as possible, pay fair wages along the way, and contribute to the local economy.
We also operate a fair-trade handbag line called Sora Nomad, designed by The Village Experience and produced by artisans in rural India. Our support of artisans in India ensures that their families prosper and their trade continues for many years to come.
In 2009, we decided to launch our non-profit called The Village Cooperative. This is where travelers can donate as they take their journey from donor to full-fledged philanthropist. We support everything from medical sails in Kenya and anti-human trafficking centers in India to classroom construction in Guatemala and economic empowerment for women in Morocco.
How did you find your purpose?
My road was long and varied. My first career was in fashion design working for companies such as BCBG Max Azaria, Tommy Hilfiger, and Anthropologie in New York and Miami. I then went back to school to get my Master’s Degree in International Relations and began interning, volunteering, and traveling the world in the process.
My journey from attending University in South Africa to underwater diving instruction in Mozambique, to the beaches of Zanzibar, and finally to the streets of Kenya helped launch this new career—where I discovered my true passion. It was through backpacking in Africa, meeting fellow travelers, volunteering in the slums, and connecting with communities in need that the idea for The Village Experience took shape and eventually came to fruition.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Follow your heart, wherever that may lead. Do not be scared to put everything else on hold and see where you end up.
What resources do you recommend?
I read books (actual books – not electronic versions!) every opportunity I can. It helps me relax, it builds empathy and compassion, it educates me about the world, and it allows me to escape into someone else’s reality for a short time. Historical novels and international non-fiction are my favorite.
I encourage everyone to read anything by these authors, starting with:
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
In Search of Africa by Frank Coates
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
An African Love Story: Love, Life and Elephants by Daphne Sheldrick
There is nothing like sinking into a good story as you settle in for a long-haul flight!
For those interested in Philanthropy, I suggest looking at Crowdrise.com to see what project ideas are out there. For those interested in Social Enterprises, venture over to Kickstarter.com to see what innovative ideas are in the works. Pick a few things to fund and get to know the organizations you’re most drawn to. I always encourage working with grassroots organizations that let you play a major role in the development process… Organizations that let you trace your money from donation to community.
Kelly S. Campbell graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in Apparel Merchandising and Business. After graduation, she lived in New York and Miami, working in international public relations for major fashion companies BCBG, Tommy Hilfiger, and Anthropologie. Kelly received her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Indianapolis and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. She lived in Cape Town and Kenya volunteering for non-profits and exploring Africa. Upon her return to the U.S. she was employed as Vice President of a local non-profit.
Kelly has traveled extensively through Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America, designing trips and developing projects. She was named one of Indiana’s “Top 40 under 40” by the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2011, was a panelist at the NAWBO “Trailblazers” event in 2012, was the face of The University of Indianapolis’s Capital Campaign, and was a member of the Rotary Club’s Business Exchange Program to South Korea in 2011. Kelly is founder and partner in The Village Experience, Executive Director of The Village Cooperative, and is available to speak on her experiences.