Skoll Scholar 2011/2012
Daniela has spent the last 6 years working in Cambodia where she was the founder of PEPY, a hybrid educational social venture. In 2005, Daniela set off with five friends on the first “PEPY Ride” which funded the construction of a rural school. Upon visiting the school, Daniela and her friends realized an important lesson: Schools don’t teach kids. People do.
Since then, Daniela has been based in Cambodia developing PEPY with a team of 45+ Cambodian staff who are focused on increasing access to quality education by investing time in people. PEPY has made a transition from simply building schools to a more outcomes based approach targeting teacher training, school support committee partnerships, youth leadership programs, and supplemental education offerings.
These programs are funded in part through a partner tourism initiative, PEPY Tours. As the income generating arm of the group, PEPY Tours was founded to generate support for Cambodian education programs but has taken on another social mission of its own: inspiring travelers to improve the way they give, travel, and live after their tours. PEPY Tours started as a “voluntourism” organization, but Daniela is now an advocate for education based tourism focusing on giving people the skills, ideas, and inspiration they need to promote and support responsible development work after they leave Cambodia.
PEPY and PEPY Tours have been recognized with awards from many groups including National Geographic and Ashoka's Changemakers, the Cartier Women's Initiative team, and Notre Dame's Social Venture Business Plan committee. Daniela is an active speaker and writer and often focuses on her voluntourism and grassroots development failures and successes in publications as well as her blog, Lessons I Learned. She is an advocate for sharing mistakes in an effort to helping others learn and avoid similar failures or struggles of their own.
When thinking about her upcoming year at Oxford, Daniela said, “I’m so excited about this opportunity to learn more as there were may times in the past few years when I knew I was under qualified to do my job efficiently. I believe that the best way we can improve the world is by improving ourselves, and I’m grateful for this chance to gain more of the skills I will need to be a more effective social enterprise leader in the future.”