Innovation is something that Terra Education wants everyone involved with their projects to obsess over. It is part of everything that they do as a company. The most visible form of innovation is their ability to continually produce so many different business units within different age demographics from teens to adults, and more to come.
Loyola University Chicago
At Terra Education innovation is really important because people are rewarded for finding new ways to do things all the time. For Andrew specifically, he loves technology. The innovation Andrew brings to the company is "making sure Terra Education is always at the cutting edge of the technology that they use internally.” Many of their competitors were started by educators, instead, Andrew started this business from a tech startup point of view.
By using technology to market their programs they are able to reach more clients all over the area. Then, the more people they reach out to go on these service-learning trips the more good they are able to do in the world and the local communities they are visiting. Through looking at this business from a technological standpoint, unlike other businesses in the field, Andrew was able to make decisions early on that not only had a positive impact on the business but on the families and communities, they are serving as well.
In my interview with Andrew, 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. Andrew’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.” He posted pictures of his work trips with his children on social media and 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 for families, and that is when the Discover Corps program was created.
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 EcoBoutique hotels that partner with local nonprofits that give 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.
One example of a business benefit that Terra Education’s innovation has provided for them is the fact that they were among the first businesses to utilize marketing automation software and it immediately started skyrocketing their marketing for the next few years. Now, Andrew is focusing on using artificial intelligence to better prepare students for their trips and offering virtual programs for students who cannot travel.
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.
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 San Diego-based certified B Corporation that, through its many diversified educational programs, 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, ages, and values. Through my research and 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.