The GEI Story

GEI is the brainchild of Dr. Michael Grosspietsch who, some 15 years ago, started to explore the question how to increase the human development impacts of short-term global engagement programs in developing countries.

What was initially an academic research exercise that earned Michael his PhD in Development Policies soon became a very practical opportunity: Living in Rwanda at the time, Michael founded GEI originally as a Rwandan educational travel provider in 2006. Within the next five years, the organization became East Africa’s leader for educational short-term programs and, through a partnership with Cape Town-based Spirit of Africa, also conquered the Southern Africa region. Finally, in 2014, Michael added the Southeast Asia region to GEI’s growing area of operation, opening a first regional program office in Vietnam.


Michael with program partners in Hue/Vietnam

Today, GEI is officially incorporated in New York and headquartered in Berlin. Its main regional centers and teams are located in Kigali, Nairobi, Cape Town and Ho Chi Minh City. Michael continues to serve as the organization’s Executive Director and coordinates a largely decentralized team that consists of program development specialists, destination management professionals, and a range of external program leaders and partners.

In 2011, Michael received one of the prestigious Responsible Tourism Showcase Awards for his work.