by Josh Senso

Summit2Hammer Travel (providing customized travel services for people with developmental disabilities), a subsidiary of Hammer Residences (a residential service provider for people with developmental disabilities), is a member of the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA). I recently attended a national summit surrounding social enterprise. I was there in an attempt to learn how to better support Hammer Travel in providing efficient, high-quality services as we continue to support more and more people in achieving their dreams.

Before I fill you in on all of the exciting things I learned, we should define social enterprise. According to the SEA, the definition is as follows: businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas.

Hammer Travel fits the definition of social enterprise because:

  • Our primary purpose is for the common good of society to bring about inclusion for people of all abilities and providing people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to travel as independently as possible.
  • Our method of business provides people with disabilities the motivation to work and save for a vacation (although we do provide scholarships for travelers with low or limited income). We are also able to bring awareness to many pressing issues in advocacy, education and resources to people impacted by differing abilities.
  • All revenue generated by Hammer Travel is given to Hammer Residences to further the mission of providing adults and children with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

At the national summit, I quickly realized how large of an impact social enterprise organizationsSummit1 have in our everyday lives. Along with Hammer Travel, there were a number of organizations whom provide services for people with differing abilities. A few examples are The Arc’s Value Village and Broadened Horizons.

I also learned about amazing social enterprises in the food/coffee industry from around the country. This is important for Hammer Travelers because:

a)      We all need to eat;
b)      We can make a global impact in other areas by dining at social enterprises!

After having this epiphany, I realized there’s an app for that. Rolfe Larson has created a Social Impact App for locating social enterprises near you (the SEA-Twin Cities Chapter is also developing a virtual marketplace with similar but different capabilities).

New technology is bringing social enterprise to our fingertips! Our trip leaders will now have the capability to locate social enterprises at many of our travel locations throughout the United States. Not only will we be able to support our travelers and the individuals living at Hammer Residences, we will be able to support all sorts of causes across the globe. Through social enterprise, the possibilities to change the world are limitless.

Check back to the Hammer Blog for an update on the social enterprises we have encountered on our trips or to tell us about some of your favorite social enterprises!