Ethos—Spirit of the Community: Trekking towards Social and Sustainable Venturing
(10 pages of text)
Ethos - Spirit of the Community (Ethos), a sustainable tourism company in Sa Pa, Vietnam, existed to support a wide variety of environmental and social initiatives that benefited members of local, ethnic minority groups. In early 2019, the organization’s founders were working with 22 female tour guides and 260 ethnic minority host families to offer sustainable and socially responsible treks in the region. However, their ability to continue was in jeopardy due to changing regulations that would affect the working status of the company’s local trekking guides. Addressing this change was essential because the business depended on the local women who led Ethos tour groups, and the new requirement could mean Ethos’s underlying business model could fall apart, undermining its ability to support related environmental and social initiatives. How could the founders ensure that Ethos would survive as a long-term venture that was able to make a difference in the lives of the local people while also accomplishing their own long-term goals?
This case is meant for classes that address the topic of social and sustainable venturing. It can work in both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on social and sustainable entrepreneurship. The case outlines the history and emergence of a sustainable social venture and articulates the challenges such an organization faces in the context of an emerging economy. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Identify the tensions social and sustainable entrepreneurs face as they seek to establish new ventures.
- Explain the importance of the mission, values, and purpose of a social and sustainable venture, and explain how each is linked to the organization’s value proposition.
- Describe the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Recommend a strategy to ensure the future of a sustainable social venture.
- Outline the challenges for an existing sustainable social venture to manage the present while preparing for future success.
Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Recreation
United Kingdom; Vietnam, Small, 2019
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