The mission of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative is to preserve the world's cultural heritage by providing life-changing and sustainable economic opportunities to poor communities in which archaeological sites are located.
SPI's watchword is 'Saving Sites by Transforming Lives', and we empower local communities to alleviate poverty and preserve their past by embracing their heritage as economic assets. People can't eat their history and so we need to provide alternatives to other potentially damaging economic uses of archaeological sites such as looting, agriculture, grazing, and residential and commercial uses. The SPI way helps people improve their own lives as well as gives them a powerful reason to preserve our shared heritage. This approach protects vulnerable archaeological sites more sustainably than approaches which rely on exclusion.
SPI's creates and develops local entrepreneurs (over 75% of whom are women) and creates jobs that are dependent on the preservation of cultural heritage sites. Working with community and government leaders, local businesses and residents, and archaeologists who have deep knowledge of the sites and local communities, SPI develops plans for locally owned and controlled businesses that maximize economic impact in the communities surrounding archaeological sites.
SPI provides grants to existing or start-up businesses for rapidly implementable projects in areas such as artisans, tourism, guides, restaurants and transportation. We also provide essential skill-building training in artisan skills and the business practices community members will need to run and grow their enterprises into the future.
We provide critical capital, capacity training and advice to entrepreneurs, who have extraordinary talent and potential but lack access to these resources. SPI functions as a non-profit, no-equity venture capital fund. We enable local individuals and cooperatives to propel community-based economic development using their cultural heritage assets as the catalyst and driving force. All equity and profits remain within the community. The businesses SPI supports are those that maximize job creation and economic development in the target communities.
SPI measures the economic, social and preservation impact of each of its investments, including revenues generated, jobs created, community reactions, and looting and site encroachment. Our approach provides a double benefit: every dollar spent on economic development and the improvement of people's lives also serves to preserve the world's cultural heritage.
SPI presently works in Guatemala and Jordan as well as Peru, where SPI has entered into an agreement with Peru's Ministry of Culture to take the SPI paradigm nationwide following the success of our community projects. We continuously collect data and carry out research into sustainable preservation to maximize our success. Our projects have shown it can work. Our first project, San Jose de Moro in Peru, started in 2011 and SPI has invested $40,000 in local entrepreneurs and infrastructure. That investment has supported 22-25 permanent jobs, 20 temporary jobs, spurred other local businesses, and increased revenues to the extent that the project is poised to break even on its initial investment in 2015. Most tellingly the economic activity has motivated both the local community and local government to preserve the site. Destructive activities, such as looting and encroachment, have come to a halt. To continue this success in Peru and across the globe we need your help. Please consider partnering with SPI or making a donation.