Sumak

Sumak
Responsible tour operator and social enterprise specialised in community-based eco-tourism
Social Purpose: 
Tourism provides a vital source of income in many developing countries, yet economic success often comes the expense of the environment and local populations. Mass tourism threatens biodiversity, damages ecosystems and causes violations of the rights of workers, minorities and local communities. Corporations, rather than local people reap the financial rewards. Community-based eco-tourism is a practical solution and fast-growing activity. Our social business model increases the offer available to responsible tourists, promotes sustainable development and escalates the positive social and environmental impact of this activity.
Social Impact: 
Our priority is to establish operational and financial viability: to cover costs and generate a surplus. However, as a social enterprise, we intend to re-invest any profit/surplus in the business and in the community organisations. There is therefore a much greater focus on achieving and documenting a positive social and environmental impact, with proper methodology and relevant indicators. Sumak Travel works with a sister organisation: Sustainable Pangea. Its aim is to highlight the best practices and social technologies of social entrepreneurs and local communities that are making a positive change in Latin America. In the long-term it seeks to create an insightful and quality-controlled pool of social ideas, technologies and projects, acting as a bridge between social entrepreneurs and potential investors or donors. Sustainable Pangea also gives visibility to the best practice initiatives it features, and facilitates the replication of impactful models and social technologies used in Latin America. The process is not only limited to tourism, but covers three other categories: solidarity-based finance, organic agriculture and fair-trade. Being an ethical business and social enterprise, our mission is to contribute to the empowerment of the local communities we work with, so they can improve their standard of living, preserve their eco-systems and tackle the structural problems they face (climate change, youth unemployment, rural migration to the cities, lack of access to public services, land grabbing, among many others). Therefore, measuring of social, cultural, environmental and economic impact is a key element of our business strategy. The existing business methodologies that can be used to measure the impacts are Social Key Performance Indicators, Social Accounting (which involves an independent, disinterested auditor) and ImpactScore Card (where impact criteria are chosen and assessed against a scorecard). A larger framework using SGAAP. SROI attributes a financial cost benefit to various social and environmental outcomes, assesses costs and evaluates the return on investment. The basic principles of SROI include stakeholder involvement, understanding of changes and how those can be evaluated through evidence collection, while being transparent and verifying the results. We have our own responsible tourism policy, through which it aims to positively impact all of its stakeholders, but also commits to sustainable and ethical practices at home. The policy, together with the outcomes and impact measurements are to be annually reviewed and published. Although this work is at its early stages, which means the methodology is not yet complete; we are already implementing sustainable practices and looking at the potential indicators.
Innovative Character: 
We work in partnership with local community-based tour operators. We share their values and goals, which means we promote transparency, community empowerment, fair trade and cultural and environmental conservation. We are contributing to improve the lives of thousands of families over the continent, and at the same time offering a high quality, experience-rich and authentic product to customers.
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