by Marianne Costa*
Social impact is not only an NGO goal. Many companies around the world are already based on the purpose of impacting positively people’s reality and transforming their businesses into a force for good. This is the motto of the more than 2,650 social enterprises in 60 countries and 150 different categories, which are certified B Corporations like Vivejar is.
We know that the world and us no longer live without businesses and services, but now we begin to understand that there will be neither “us” nor “the world” unless we become individually and collectively responsible in our daily and business routines. Innovative social enterprises are emerging in all areas. Thy have as standard and priority the positive impact model, but this does not mean they are not economically sustainable.
For Mohamed Yunnus, creator of the term “Social Business”, these companies have the “unique mission of solving a social problem, they are financially self-sustaining and they do not distribute dividends”. But it is essential that behind them there are social makers who truly believe in a cause and are dedicated to it.
I still miss this conviction and dedication in tourism. The more I believe and struggle for female and community empowerment with Vivejar’s travels, the more I think that Brazilian tourism, with its enormous potential, is being left out of this much-needed movement. I know incredible social tourism companies and, along with some of them, we founded the MUDA – Brazilian Collective for Responsible Tourism, in the hope that more social businesses can join us.
But I think that in our universe there is still a lack of understanding and vision of what is really a social company and of the importance that the impact model, as well as the business model, come from inside out and not the other way around. Establishing a policy or area of social responsibility does not make a company or organisation transformative. It is also necessary to understand that yes, tourism is more than capable of promoting positive social impacts, not only in the communities where it operates, but also for its employees and travellers.
This is my concern, but also my invitation and encouragement for tourism professionals to truly make a change for positive social impact.
*Marianne Costa is a social maker, founder of Vivejar and a women empowerment activist