Empowering rural communities through the sharing economy

18 July 2017

Mandela Day

We celebrate this Mandela Day* by sharing one of many stories about people's lives changing for the better. Nelson Mandela, founding patron of Peace Parks Foundation, said: 'What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.'

In April 2017, Open Africa, SA College for Tourism and Airbnb Ireland reached an agreement for a strategic partnership, based on the principles of mutual strengths and benefits, with the aim of community-driven growth and development.
The partnership aims to help low-income families increase their income by sharing their homes through Airbnb’s global platform. A special focus are women and youth in rural areas. The partnership will help those who have been excluded from the more formal tourism economy.
The SA College for Tourism took the lead and made use of the services of Strategic Outcomes Based Solutions to design and develop a curriculum that covers the basics of hospitality in homestays and how to set up and manage an Airbnb account. The curriculum also includes a module on the opportunities of a sharing economy, particularly home sharing and the Airbnb platform. It also includes hospitality standards, hygiene and basic amenities, responsible hosting, the Airbnb hosting process flow and how to deliver a memorable Airbnb experience that allows the visitor to 'live like a local.'

Open Africa, a social enterprise that helps rural entrepreneurs feel confident to work together and revitalise their communities through tourism, identified individuals and communities that are interested in participating in the programme. They focused on target corridors in the Western Cape, where there is an existing demand for home stays and an interest among locals with a low income in home sharing and in building up the local tourism product.
Francois Viljoen, managing director of Open Africa, joined the college for the orientation and first three days of training that was conducted over two weeks. Fourteen rural candidates from Western Cape communities attended the programme. Open Africa brought in a technology partner, Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative that conducted a two-day workshop to address the connectivity issues that a rural community faces. Participants were taught to operate smartphones and make use of what is available online to assist in managing your own business.

Airbnb and the college assisted the candidates to create their own listings on the Airbnb platform. This pilot programme was a major success and the college received very positive feedback from the candidates and the trainers.

In the coming months, trainees will receive ongoing support from all parties involved through a mentorship programme.

Story and photos by SA College for Tourism

*Nelson Mandela International Day commemorates the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. It was launched in 2009 on his birthday,18 July, via a unanimous UN General Assembly.decision.

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