Ang Chomba Sherpa
There is an excitement about the power of social entrepreneurship. Unleashing the power of entrepreneurial thinking on social problems provides “out of the box” solutions after years of “standard” responses these challenges. However, some of the most vocal advocates for social entrepreneurship only extoll the virtues of scalable solutions and game-changing approaches.
There is more to social enterprise than a few large organizations and I want to take a moment to celebrate social entrepreneurs that are working in their own small corners of the world, making real and positive change in communities around the world. Academics have called these social entrepreneurs “Bricoleurs”, from the French word bricolage – because they use what “is at hand”. These social entrepreneurs have deep understanding of the issues they are working on and strong relationships with the people they are working with.
Ang Chhomba Sherpa, chairman of Moving Mountains Nepal, is a social entrepreneur working to improve the lives of people living in the villages of the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. Chhomba and his colleagues at Moving Mountains provide electricity (via a micro-hydro system), healthcare and education (supporting some teachers’ salaries) in small villages. Moving Mountains uses funds generated by its for-profit sister company, Adventure Alternative, to help fund these projects. Chhomba, who is originally from the region, works closely with community leaders to achieve the goal of improving the lives of the villagers. While the scale of this work is focused on a specific region, Moving Mountains and Adventure Alternative have been recognized internationally for their very real impact.
While we definitely need scalable, game changers – like Grameen Bank – that change the “big picture”, many social entrepreneurs in the tourism sector are addressing local issues and creating local solutions. For the people of those regions, social entrepreneurship is delivering on its promise.
The idea that tourism is a system has been around for a while. Morrison and Mill wrote the first edition of The Tourism System in 1985 – and they weren’t the first to recognize the concept. Since then there have been advances – Louise Twining Ward – added that tourism was a Complex and Adaptive System and Noel Scott and his colleagues have done great work on understanding the dynamics within these networks.
So – if we know its a system – why don’t we treat it like one ? Why is it that when so many industry leaders talk about tourism they tend to assume top down, hierarchical decision making? You can’t just tell a system to do something…
Systems thinking is one of the important skills of Destination Managers. Networking, collaboration, negotiation, knowledge management, partnering, political skills…these are the tools for success in the tourism system.
As an educator committed to building a better world, I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can equip the new generation to tackle the challenges they will face ( or should I say – the challenges we leave them….)
While it is hard to anticipate the specific skills needed in the world of tomorrow, I believe there are some core values that will be critical to developing a better tourism system in the years to come. My friends at TEFI – Tourism Education Futures Initiative – have identified 5 important sets of values that make a great foundation on which to build curriculum – and a career. Those value dimensions and their specific values/skills include:
- Stewardship: sustainability, responsibility, and service to the community
- Mutuality: diversity, inclusion, equity, humility and collaboration
- Ethics: Honesty, transparency, authenticity
- Professionalism: leadership, practicality, relevance, timeliness, teamwork and pro-activity
- Knowledge: critical thinking, innovation, creativity and networking.
Now – I’ll be the first to admit there may be a few things missing in this list – but it sure looks like a great place to start to me.