Innovation is something that Terra Education wants everyone involved with their projects to obsess over. Terra Education has made strides as a business through its experiential learning model that sets it apart from the average travel agency.
Loyola University Chicago
Terra Education's focus on traveling to make a difference in the world is what makes them a truly unique business. In my interview with co-founder and chairman, Andrew Motiwalla, he talked with me about how this innovation came to be. Mr. Motiwalla mentioned that when he went on service trips for work, he would bring his family along with him. As he posted pictures with his children on social media, his friends would reach out asking if there was a way they could do this with their own children. That was when he realized that he could create something that was based around service learning-based travel for families.
There are other companies that offer educational service trips, but Terra Education was innovative in their approach for providing ways the whole family could participate in the experience. They offer safe and comfortable lodging, and engaging educational adventures that people of all ages can enjoy. Also, by offering such a wide variety of themes that people can choose to focus on for their trips, it allows everyone to find something that truly interests them that they can be passionate about making a change in.
In my interview with Mr. Motiwalla, I quickly learned that everything he does “comes deeply from in his heart.” His Peace Corps service and his two daughters who he would bring along with him on his service trips later in life inspired him to create something like the Peace Corps for teenagers. Mr. Motiwalla's first project was Global Leadership Adventures, which promoted learning about leadership through service, immersive experiences, and life-changing adventures. When he went on service-learning trips, he would bring his two children. Seeing his daughters in that environment playing with the local children, he noticed how “all the different boundaries of language, nationality, race all disappeared and they could just be kids playing with each other.”
As Global Leadership Adventures started to take off, then Discover Corps began to flourish and out of that, Summer Springboard was launched. Discover Corps is a higher-end volunteer travel program for families. Parents can still get a quality vacation with comfortable accommodations while also being able to give back and instill the importance of volunteering and serving in their families. Families stay at eco-boutique hotels that partner with local nonprofits and gives them the opportunity to connect with local people and learn firsthand about biology conservation, public health, and any other issue that could be affecting the local community. Summer Springboard is the pre-college summer program for high school students where they can discover what their personal values are and use them to choose an appropriate path for education and success in their future.
Terra Education's work is directly related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Quality Education. They are working to ensure that all members acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development through immersive and hands-on educational experiences. They offer programs in various locations all over the world that focus on a range of issues all related to promoting education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles. Some of the themes of the trips people can choose from include wildlife conservation, public health and medicine, promotion of a culture of and peace and social justice, global citizenship, environmental education, and more.
The service-learning trips that Terra Education offers provide not only the short term societal and environmental benefits for the local communities of the families’ projects while they are there, but they also have the lasting impacts that the families take with them throughout their lives from their experiences on these trips. On the Global Leadership Adventures’ website, it states that 97% of alumni consider their experience to have been life-changing. For these reasons Terra Education is so much more than a leading travel agency, they are making real differences in the lives of people and families all over the world, and at home.
One major example of Terra Education's innovation has been its ability to cater to a variety of different groups of people by adapting their business model and creating new business units. This enables them to bring in different clients and have multiple streams of revenue which is a strength for any business to have. With Terra Education's previous success at building new business units this only enhances their opportunity for further expansion into new markets as a company.
Along with the benefit of this innovation enabling them to capitalize on new markets and be more profitable, it also allows them to help more people in areas that need it. Through their success in targeting and marketing to new demographics it allows them to open new branches of support and education in the local communities they serve across the world. Terra Education at its core and the way that it produces travel programs focused on improving people's quality of life is beneficial for them as a business as not many other travel agencies offer the same level of specialized, service learning-based trips as it does.
Not only does the work that Terra Education has done relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Quality Education, but its innovations are also tied to the SDGs of Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions and Climate Action. Mr. Mottiwalla was open about how he was impacted by his experiences in the Peace Corps and wanted to promote those ideals in his own business. Terra Education provides people with the resources to travel to parts of the world with limited access to justice and strong institutions where they get to create personal relationships with the people there and help them create a safer society through their actions and projects there.
Mr. Mottiwalla was very honest about what being a certified B corporation means to him and he said that having that label mostly means to him that the company has a set of environmental standards they have to uphold and it is a great certification to have and publish to appeal to more consumers. Yes, they are a certified B corp but he recognizes that there is always more they could be doing as a company to be better for the environment, and they are not trying to greenwash themselves to their consumers like many other brands are guilty of.
Andrew Motiwalla, Chairman/co-founder
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San Diego, California, US
Business Website: https://www.terraeducation.com/
Year Founded: 2004
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
Terra Education is a certified B Corporation based in San Diego. Through its many diversified educational programs, Terra Education manages to make tourism more responsible while contributing to inclusive growth that drives the progress of various communities all over the world.
To ensure that clients have the best quality experience, Terra Education offers a selection of programs that adapt to the clients’ interests and values. Through my discussion with co-founder and Executive Chairman, Andrew Motiwalla, I had the privilege of learning more about what inspired the creation of Terra Education and the impact the company has on social, environmental, and business factors through innovation and insight.