Sociaal entrepreneur Aranka van der Pol about Lots of Lesvos & jaguars

Purpose Lab likes to shine a light people and organizations that inspire to travel consciously. If it is a mission in life, combining a way to make money with doing the right thing or using your talent: you will find inspiring people with unique stories all around the world and in your own country too, of course.

Aranka van der Pol

Social entrepreneur Aranka van de Pol is in the spotlight this time around. Aranka is a busy little bee with a big heart for the world. She started her career in journalism and made her first steps as a social entrepreneur by giving attention to sustainable tourism with a trip through Europe in an electric tuk tuk and a book with platform on conscious travel. Aranka is helping fugitives in Lesvos these days with her company Lots of Lesvos.

Interview with Purpose Lab

Purpose Lab interviewed this inspirator about social entrepreneurship.


What drives you in your work as the founder of Lots of Lesvos?

A few years ago I went to Lesvos as a journalist and volunteer. I distributed food to refugees, helped them on land, offered them dry clothes and listened to their stories. Deeply touched by the inhumane situation on the island, I could not let go once at home. Frustrated by the unilateral aid of NGOs and determined to bring a structural change on the island, I started Lots of Lesvos.

What is your most precious travel memory and why?

Wow, there are so many; cycling through India, with my boyfriend and my son on my back walking through the rice fields on Bali and along the west coast of Portugal. But my dearest one was a meeting with a jaguar and her little one in the jungle of Bolivia. I think jaguars are incredibly beautiful and it is quite rare to encounter them in the wild. According to shamanism they have supernatural powers, which fascinates me a lot. That is also why I got a jaguar tattooed on my ankle

How do you see the ecological, economical and/or sociological impact of traveling?

I find it very difficult. I think traveling brings different people and cultures closer together. It brings about understanding and respect for each other's way of life and for our overwhelming nature. In this sense, it has many positive aspects. At the same time flying is of course very bad for nature and it’s terrible to see what happens to the coral and other nature areas by tourism. I find it totally incongruent of myself that I still fly. I stopped eating meat and fish from an ecological point of view, but I still fly. That doesn’t make sense. In the meantime, I am delighted that more and more initiatives and companies (such as Purpose Lab) are focusing on sustainable tourism. And I sincerely hope that long distance travelling by train will become easier and cheaper.


What is the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight in my career is the moment I gain economic, ecological and social profit at the same time. That is what we are aiming for with Lots or Lesvos. We support the local farmers by paying a fair price for their olive oil, honey and salt & spices. With the profits we support education and entrepreneurship among refugees on Lesvos. We do this in the most sustainable way possible. An absolute highlight was that - after two years of hard work - the very first cans arrived in the Netherlands. But the real highlight still has to come when we can make even more impact with Lots or Lesvos.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

Lots of Lesvos is an initiative of With Junglebirds we start and support small ecosystems in which people and nature thrive. So on the long term you can expect me to create a new small ‘ecosystem’. In the meantime, I also advice and guide other initiatives and start-ups.

And last, but not least, what personal advice on a conscious life would you like to share?

I'm not so good at advice, but I do have a nice quote to think about: "Imagine if trees gave off Wifi signals, we would be planting so many trees. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe."

More info?

Want to follow Aranka in her mission? Follow Lots of Lesvos and