SA Expeditions proudly joins the growing movement of Certified B Corporations which pledge to balance profit with purpose, and dedicate their businesses to doing good. In this second installment of our three-part "A Journey for Purpose" series, our Chief Operations Officer reflects on our B Corp journey (read Part One here and Part Three here).
SA Expeditions believes that travel has the power to make the world a better place. When done right, it changes people for the better. It makes you happier, it brings you closer to you travel companions, and it opens your eyes to new perspectives, new cultures, and new ways of doing things. It rejuvenates you and brings new meaning to your life.
It’s this passion for travel, and the opportunity to make a living while witnessing the incredible impact it has on others, that motivates all of us at SA Expeditions to dedicate our lives to the art of creating personalized, life-changing experiences for our travelers. Because we know firsthand how spectacularly moving and memorable our travel experiences can be.
But if we’re really going to make an impact, we can’t stop with travel. We have to run our business in a way that benefits not just our customers, but everyone and everything impacted by our trips. This is the ethos that has guided how SA Expeditions has operated since day one, over ten years ago, when two wanderlust-driven business school grads on an adventure to Peru decided to open shop.
After finding out about the B Corp Certification – a stamp which recognizes that your business does in fact meet the highest social and environmental standards – we were inspired to challenge ourselves further by undergoing this third-party audit of our unique purpose-driven approach to business. In the process, we learned how we can continue to do better in the future.
This holistic certification reaffirms that our commitment goes far beyond the financial health of the company and the satisfaction of our travelers. It ensures that doing good thumps through the entire business. From our supply chain and our impact on the places and communities we visit, through to how we engage with our entire network of team members and partners. In contrast to the rigorous vetting process required to get awarded, the B Corp certification makes it easy for others to identify companies that are genuinely and effectively behaving as a force for good.
Members of our sales team from three different continents (Europe, United States, and South America), sharing a moment at the SA Expeditions Global summit in the Galapagos Islands in 2019. From left to right: Jeanie O’Halloran, Staci Steele, and Julia Steck.
Here at SA Expeditions, we strive to run the business in a way that honors our own personal values. This means acting with integrity, accountability, and transparency. And it means adhering to three core pillars which we’ve established to keep us focused on what matters: Community, Conservation, and Awareness.
As engagement with others is often what brings the most meaning to our travel experiences and to our daily lives, we focus on making sure our own sense of community is strong. With a broad network spread across many countries, that includes travelers, team members, partners, and remote communities, our goal is to bring everyone together under one umbrella as a cohesive team to feel supported and valued. For some of us, this means providing opportunities for professional development, paid leave, charity matching, and bonus programs. For others, it means creating sustainable projects that bring travelers to distant areas, thereby placing economic value on cultural heritage while also creating meaningful experiences and supporting the livelihoods of vulnerable people in our destinations.
Valentín Sinchi offering a coca leaf to the surrounding peaks in the Andes. Valentín and his community of Choquechaca have been at the core of SA Expeditions’ understanding of how to operate fair and responsible community tourism. Valentín also accompanied our CEO for 200 days, walking across the Andes as part of the Qhapaq Ñan expedition team.
Travel can also be a positive, powerful force in the protection of ecology and ways of life. Through several key initiatives, we aim to give back in a way that serves the environment and the beings that depend on it. First, we do this through our exploration of the Great Inca Trail, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches from Ecuador to Peru and beyond. Our Great Inca Trail treks promote equitable travel practices that work to alleviate pressure on more heavily visited sites like Machu Picchu, while also drawing attention and financial investment to a massive, multi-cultural, multi-national historical monument that’s in danger of disappearing. Second, we do this by offsetting the carbon footprint of every single one of our trips to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with travel – a process which is monitored via a third-party partnership with Carbon Credit Capital. (Yes, every single one of our trips is carbon neutral.) And third, we do this through our commitment to reforestation projects that help restore native habitats in the Andes, a region that is key to our business and home to many of the communities that make up our greater SA Expeditions network.
Promoting conservation across various ecosystems is a core aspect of impact. This includes doing our part to mitigate climate change, which is especially acute in the polar regions.
Lastly, we believe that bringing a voice to important issues is central to enacting positive change. That’s why our CEO and Chief Explorer spent four months trekking 2,000 miles across the Andes along the remote Qhapaq Ñan, in the process making the world aware of the promise and perils of this dynamic region. It’s why we authentically share our approach to business through storytelling – even in challenging times – openly for anyone to see. And it’s why we’re excited to wear the B Corp badge. We hope sharing our collective story will promote more conscious conversation and help inspire others to learn more.
After a long day on the trail, Nick Stanziano, our CEO and Chief Explorer, pens an update about his walk across the remote Andes to raise awareness of the perils and promise of the Qhapaq Ñan. To the right is John Leivers, a renowned Andean explorer who has played a critical role in the project as a mentor and expedition member. You can see the satellite modem on the table which allowed the team to send daily correspondence to tens of thousands of followers around the world on social media. Read all about Nick’s journey along this important cultural and natural patrimony here.
We’re looking to create a company that will stand the test of time; one that will continue to take all stakeholders into account despite ever-evolving circumstances and for the betterment of our collective future. By becoming a Benefit Corporation and taking part in the global B movement, we are emboldened to be more mindful – to shop, eat, and work according to our values, and be a force for good.
About the Author: Riva Bacquet serves as COO of SA Expeditions from her home in Lima, Peru where she’s a nationalized citizen. Originally from California, she holds a BA in International Studies and an MBA from Santa Clara University near Silicon Valley. As a strong believer in the power of travel to create positive change, she takes a unique purpose-led approach to business.