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Image by Ricardo Gomez Angel

Elev-Eight the
first free Community in Americas


Ways you can support the San Basilios de Palenque community:

Donate, Buy a Gift voucher, or sign up to one of our courses, we automatically donate at least 21% of the course fee towards supporting the initiative.

Be part of the project. Join us and play a central role in driving this project to fruition.

Preserving History and Culture: Help Palenque, the First Free Town in the Americas, to thrive again.

The big picture 


San Basilio de Palenque is a historic Afro-Colombian village known for its unique culture, language, and traditions, passed down from escaped slaves. It has a rich cultural heritage including traditional music, dance, cuisine, and medicine, and is famous for its Palenquero language, a mixture of African and Spanish. UNESCO recognised the village as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for preserving the traditions and cultural practices of Afro-Colombian communities.

Benkos Biohó was the leader of the escaped slaves who founded the historic Afro-Colombian village of San Basilio de Palenque. He is considered the founder of the palenque and a symbol of resistance against slavery. Biohó was an important figure in the preservation of African culture and traditions in the area, and his legacy continues to inspire the people of San Basilio de Palenque to this day. The village is a testament to the strength and resilience of Afro-Colombian communities and their ability to preserve their cultural heritage despite adversity.

The issue

The impact of years of civil unrest and violence in Colombia, coupled with the legacy of slavery and the ongoing conflict have created an environment where women are often marginalised and subject to discrimination based on their gender. This can limit their ability to participate fully in the community and access the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. The result is a cycle of inequality and violence that can be difficult to break, but with the right interventions and support, it is possible to create positive change and promote gender equality in San Basilio de Palenque.

The goa

The community of Palenque are looking to reset this imbalance and with our support we aim to restore balance. Our focus is on empowering not just women, but the entire community as a whole. By working together with the local community and finding solutions from within, we aim to encourage innovation and provide the necessary tools for self-sustenance through entrepreneurship. We believe that entrepreneurship is the key to empowerment, and that it requires the collective effort and involvement of the entire community to empower women effectively.

How it works:

We believe in transformation through the art of doing, therefore we have created an impact model that enables you to directly and personally make a difference in the lives of the community. By combining funding with your skills, passions, and knowledge, you will create a lasting and meaningful impact. Our approach is broken down into three phases, providing you with the opportunity to join us and be a part of the change. By participating in each or a phase, you will form personal connections with the community and together, transform lives for the better. Join us in this journey to create a brighter future for the women and community of Palenque.

Phase 1: IT hub & setting up female led social enterprise. (2nd - 11th February 2024)

Phase 2: Sustainable Tourism

Phase 3: Agriculture, farming & entrepreneurship continuation



Online learning and access to technology

  • Setting up an IT hub with 20 computers and free WIFI at the local school. This IT hub will double up to cater as an adult learning centre in the evenings. 

  • Online learning, access to the Elev-Eight free platform which collates courses, masterclasses and personalised support for the community.

Social entrepreneurship

  • Building upon already existing businesses and supporting the creation of new start ups. Personalised training in how to establish an online presence and negotiating revenue streams.

  • Supporting established businesses to elevate therefore creating new job opportunities in the community.

Eco Toursim & Culture

  • Establish and promote sustainable tourism initiatives that will provide long-term benefits for the community and help to ensure that the history and culture of San Basilio de Palenque are celebrated and shared with the world.

  • Plant medicine

  • By focusing on sports and physical activity, we can provide women with a supportive and inclusive environment where they can develop their skills and build confidence.

Regenerative farming:

  • There have been agricultural initiatives in the past that had the potential to succeed but fell short due to a lack of mentorship and support. By providing mentorship and resources to these projects, we can help to ensure that they have the support they need to thrive and become sustainable over the long term.

Image by Jorge Gardner

Our objective is to enhance the community's strength through a comprehensive approach that encompasses access to technology and educational opportunities, culture and sport, eco-tourism, and social entrepreneurship. This approach is based on our "eight ways to elevate" impact model, where the community has identified these as key areas of focus as priorities. Our team of specialists is collaborating with key members of the community to ensure that the solutions are tailored to their specific requirements. This includes analysing past involvement from NGOs and organisations to avoid repeating any mistakes, and also evaluating the strengths of existing businesses that could serve as a foundation for promoting entrepreneurship.


By fostering social entrepreneurship, our goal is to facilitate sustainable economic growth while addressing pressing social and environmental concerns. By connecting with experienced mentors from around the globe, we aim to maximise the potential for success and provide the community with opportunities to thrive.

Our local project manager, Faider, will receive personalised mentorship and training in project management, as well as access to the resources and support needed to effectively lead the project. This training will also be offered to other key members of the community as they are identified, with a focus on areas such as education, technology, regenerative agriculture, and social entrepreneurship. By establishing a strong foundation of knowledge and skills within the community, we hope to promote sustainable and culturally relevant solutions that will enable the community to reach its full potential and thrive.

If you're unable to visit us in Colombia, there are still ways for you to be involved in empowering the community. By shopping in our marketplace, you can directly support the community's growth and development in these key areas. Whether you choose to purchase a computer or one of the beautifully crafted artisanal products, your support will have a direct impact on the community and help them reach new heights.

100%  goes directly to funding the community of Palenque
Image by Jorge Gardner

Make your next trip unforgettable

Experience Colombia 

8 days
Accompanied age
Minimum age
2nd - 11th Feb 2024
The Experience 

What is included:

£800 of your fee is donated to the project (You can fundraise for this if you would like, but payment must be made in full in advance)


  • One night in Cartagena (Recover from flight)

  • Inland transport & accommodation in Palenque

  • 5 nights accommodation living in the community

  • Two nights in Cartagena post volunteering Volunteering experience & tailor made activities Bespoke activities and workshops - cooking, plant medicine, dance, drumming. Once the group is confirmed we will create a plan based on interest. Community celebration - drumming, dancing Palenquero style

  • Beyond the lens. At times we will request a no phone zone. This is to encourages you to deeper connect, and engage more fully with your surroundings and with each other. Fear not, we will have a professional photographer to capture authentic moments, resulting in a more meaningful and enjoyable experience.

  • 24/7 in-country & UK support

  • Comprehensive pre-departure information & support


What is NOT included

  • Flights - Check flights from your location HERE Insurance

  • Food and drink in outside of Palenque

Activities available:

1. Full integration in the community

2. Learn about their culture and heritage

3. “Palenquero cooking for the world” won the Best Cookbook in the World award in 2014. Learn to cook Palenque style

4. Activities with the children at the local school

5. Sports we want to focus on getting girls into sport - football & baseball are the dominant sports in the community.

6. Learn traditional dances 7.Learn percussion 8.Learn to make cocadas (sweets)
9. Understand and learn about

braids of freedom, secret communication and mapping to help them escape slavery and find freedom through their hairstyles.

10. Learn about plant medicine

Be part of the big picture
Join us in Colombia

Sponsor. Partner.  Elevate

The big Picture
Transformation through the art of doing.

Discover the eight ways we impact
Learning | Technology | Regenerative Agriculture | Renewable Energy | Social entrepreneurship | Eco tourism | Sports & Creativity | Giving back

Help us Elev-Eight San Basilios de Palenque

Image by Ricardo Gomez Angel

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