Social Enterprise Development

Social Enterprise Development

Supporting social enterprises helps bring underserved communities, including women, indigenous populations, and at-risk youth, into the tourism value chain. Sustainable Travel International is collaborating with the Planeterra Foundation to support local opportunities and build the capacity of communities who wish to offer tours, accommodations, handicraft businesses, and other tourism-related services. By connecting more people with the economic benefits of the travel sector, these projects make important strides toward alleviating poverty and improving well-being.

Current Projects

Colombia Community Tourism

Lost City (Ciudad Perdida), Colombia

The Wiwa and Kogui indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada have, for the most part, remained in isolation throughout history. Recently, these people have had increased contact with the outside world as they struggle to avoid conflict in the high mountainous region where they are often put in danger by illegal activity. The tribes have a strong desire to access tourism that upholds their cultural values and celebrates their customs.

Through collaboration with the only indigenous tour operator in the region, Wiwa tours, this project is identifying opportunities for communities along the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trekking route to reach the tourist market. Establishing micro-enterprises along the trek will provide opportunities for women to sell traditional bags and other handicrafts to customers from tour groups that visit the area. This project also supports the development of a training and capacity-building program for indigenous-owned tourism businesses to provide food and lodging services along the Lost City route.

Bolivia Community Salt Lodge

Santiago de Agencha, Bolivia

Travelers come to Bolivia for the stunning views of the salt flats, but many do not see the cultural offerings in the communities they visit. Santiago de Agencha is a community of 300 people, with a strong cultural identity and a history of Quinoa farming. This project is providing an investment to build a community tourism program where travelers can enjoy a farm experience in a traditional Andean village, and stay at a community-owned and operated salt flat lodge. The entire community will benefit from the additional visitors, especially the women who can supplement the farming income of their husbands by providing tourism services like hosting and handicrafts.

This project also supports capacity building to teach women in the community how to manage a restaurant, a lodge with capacity for 50 people per night, and a walking tour of the community and its farms. In addition, the project is funding significant improvements to an abandoned lodge. Once the program is in place, the community will be able to offer a one-of-a-kind salt flat experience.  All of the services related to this experience are brand new job opportunities for women in the village. Because the lodge is run by the community association, revenue from the tourism experience will be invested back into community needs.

Tengger Community Homestay

Mount Bromo, Indonesia

The village of Ngadas is home to 1,800 members of the Tengger indigenous tribe. The Tengger people have a rich history associated with the nearby Mount Bromo volcano, which is one of the most sacred sites in the country. Over the last few decades, the Tengger people have faced adversity from illegal logging activities in the region, coupled with a shift in their younger generation moving away to larger cities. By developing a tourism economy through homestays in their village, the people can supplement their small agriculture incomes and offer their youth prospects for a future in their own community.

This project supports the establishment of a homestay program that benefits 93 families in Ngadas. The program is owned and managed by the Tengger people, which gives them an opportunity to diversify their income on their own terms. The homestays are being equipped with proper bedding and washroom facilities, along with hospitality training for the hosts. As part of the program, associated micro-enterprises will be developed to provide food and souvenirs to the travelers, and create local day tours of the surrounding natural areas.

Together, we can work towards a more inclusive tourism industry that cultivates local livelihoods and helps communities flourish.

About Our Partner


Established in 2003, by global adventure travel company G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip, Planeterra Foundation is a non-profit organization that has contributed millions of dollars towards projects in areas of social enterprise, healthcare, conservation, and emergency response. Planeterra’s social enterprises are uniquely designed with the tourism value chain in mind. The businesses become self-sustaining through an already existing customer base. Where other development models typically generate positive results over a 3-5 year horizon, Planeterra’s projects see positive returns within the first year. Some of Planeterra’s earliest projects have now seen continual growth in these communities for over a decade.