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Coral Reef Restoration Assistant Coral Reef Restoration Assistant Cocodrilo, Cuba IOI-Empowering Cuba NGO | IOI-Empowering Cuba
You will contribute to an ongoing initiative to improve and monitor coral reef health off the Southern Coast of Cuba's Isle of Youth.

1 Project review of IOI-Empowering Cuba

Project Details

We empower isolated communities to grow in a sustainable way. To that end we run projects in Conservation, Education, and Social development.

Who we are
IOI is a non-profit organization that designs educational adventures that empower isolated communities to grow in a sustainable way. We strive to help establish ecological sustainability and social stability in our host communities. As such, our mission is to provide international education programs that support the education, conservation, and social development of isolated communities by assisting local institutions in sustainably handling the human-environmental intersection. 

 What we do

  • We develop and implement our outreach projects with local institutions to ensure their sustainable implementation. Our projects address pressing conservation needs. Our partners include The Ocean Foundation, La Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Oceans for Youth, and University of Havana’s Marine Research Center.
  • We provide volunteer opportunities in conservation, providing our participants with life changing experiences, and our local partners with funding, expertise, and (wo)man power on site.
  • We provide immersive study abroad programs in which students study the local environment and learn the local culture. All our programs are based on cultural integration and service learning. 

Where we work
We work in the community of Cocodrilo on the southern coast of Isle of Youth in Cuba. Cocodrilo is a small welcoming coastal town of 300 residents surrounded by nature. Some of the most beautiful reefs in Cuba are right off shore and sea turtles nest down the coast. Cocodrilo is a laid-back Caribbean town in the middle of paradise!

Our history
Since embarking on our journey in 2006, IOI has evolved into a mature and recognized organization with an innovative design of merging educational travel with conservation and community development. We began in Galapagos and, after 10 years of experience, have expanded to Cuba and Costa Rica.

Vision and Mission 
We Empower Isolated Communities to Grow in a Sustainable Way. It is our Vision to help establish ecological sustainability and social stability in our host communities.  Our mission is to provide international education programs that support the education, conservation, and social development of isolated communities by assisting local institutions in sustainably handling the human-environmental intersection.

Who are we looking for
We are looking for adventurous volunteers ready to travel to remote parts of the world to make an impact on conservation and education projects. Our volunteers should be flexible, understanding, and respectful of the local cultural context. Depending on the position, we ask that our volunteers are physically able to work outside, sometimes in extreme weather conditions (think the tropics!) and be able to work on a team and individually.

Why choose us...

  • It's a unique opportunity to gain insight and firsthand experience in the world of hands-on conservation and environmental management
  • All of our locations are unique and have exceptional beauty and biodiversity.
  • Our sites are slow lane kinds of places. If you need a break, this is your ideal escape.
  • You will learn Spanish and immerse yourself in the community--you'll finish your time volunteering feeling like a local!

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Johann Besserer
Johann Besserer
Spoken Languages

Social Impact

IOI's non-profit model finances conservation of isolated and unique places of particular natural beauty or relevance by inviting participants to contribute to our preservation efforts via their travels. As a non-profit, all surplus from our participation fees goes into the conservation efforts of the respective location/project - from coral gardening to teaching English, and from female empowerment to turtle research. 

We different lines of work have distinct outcomes and impacts. 

  1. Our volunteer programs help the partner organizations with (wo)man power in their research efforts, conservation missions, and education mandates. 

  2. Our study abroad programs are fully community based and thus provide our host-families with vital income (often for the housewife) and cultural exchange potential. Additionally, our programs create additional revenue for local restaurants, operators, and transport organizations. IOI is often the biggest spender in the local economy and pays fair rates creating equal opportunity. 

  3. Our outreach programs support our partner organizations with technical expertise and funding for their ongoing efforts. Additionally, we run community development programs in female empowerment, environmental education, personal and emotional health, and urban gardening.  

Pursued Sustainable Development Goals
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