On April 4th, 2010 Monique Teggelove woke up with the vision of Papillon Reizen and Papillon Fairtrade. Three months later Papillon Reizen had been founded. It took ten more years for Papillon Fairtrade to be founded.
Monique was born and raised in The Netherlands. After having travelled around the globe for about five years, and having set foot on every continent, she settled in Mali in 2010 and founded Papillon Reizen travel agency. She ran and built the company with her local team, despite of - and thanks to - a multitude of external events and crises. These included military coups, health crises, rebellions, jihadist threats and foreign military interventions. Resilience and the flexibility to adapt to new situation were key.
During the 2020 worldwide crisis - and a military coup in Mali that same year - the activities of Papillon Reizen came to a standstill. Wondering what to do, the plan got shape to bring Mali to the world. Together with the people of the Papillon Reizen team, she set to work to create virtual tours.
“Our love for Mali, its people and culture gave us the courage and the wings to give it a go regardless of the lack of professional equipment and experience in this field. We simply decided to start the project with a pocketsize digital camera, a couple of spare batteries, a pile of memory cards and our enthusiasm”, Monique explains.
After cooking a local dish with her assistant Mariama, a do-it-yourself mud cloth product was created with good friend Souleymane, the owner of the Ségou-based bogolan workshop Centre Soroblé. In the meantime Ibrahim had gotten all enthusiastic to jump into the world of guiding virtual tours and soon other guides of the Papillon Reizen team and their family members joined the project.
“Our virtual tours are not staged. They are 100% natural and give an image of the real Mali, including everyday background noises, and sounds of people, traffic, radios and braying donkeys :-)”
Being a social entrepreneur has always been important to Monique. Therefore fair prices are paid, and part of the revenues is given back to the people involved in the tours and products. By buying a tour or product you also support the guide, cook, artist or a carefully selected local project.
“It is my aim to bring Mali to the world, and to make a huge success of the Papillon Virtual Tours series. By doing so, our team members and their families become financially independent as well.”
When creating the virtual tours, Monique had no idea yet that this would be the start of the second company she had had a vision of in 2010. The 2020 crisis lasting much longer than expected, time arose to sit down and reflect on new opportunities. If people could not easily travel the world, it was about time to bring the beauty of the world to the people, starting with Mali.
Papillon Fairtrade was founded as a Dutch company. It offers virtual tours and experiences, handmade quality products, one-of-a-kind necklaces made by Monique, and books about Monique’s travels.
Together we make the world a better place.