This is the first of Caitlin’s posts. She’ll be busy while in SA but she hopes to contribute some additional posts during the next month and after she returns. I’ll take this opportunity to say a big thanks to Caitlin. The current, on-the-ground perspective is a valuable one and I’m happy she can share her experience through this post. Take it away Caitlin!
SAN DIEGO – Thanks John for allowing me the opportunity to share my service in IBM’s Corporate Service Corps! I believe this is the beginning of an important partnership to advance the study of exciting corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Tomorrow I join 13 fellow IBM team members from nine different countries and journey to East London, South Africa. My team will spend one month designing business and marketing plans to promote tourism in the Makana Township of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The Kwam eMakana Homestays was established in 2006 as a government initiative that assists home owners in opening their homes and running them as bed and breakfast facilities to accommodate tourists. The project strengthens community tourism for sustainable local economic development using responsible tourism development as a lever to unlock the development potential of the area. With unemployment in the rural township of Jozi, Grahamstown sitting at 60%-70%, and many families living on less than R1500 a month, successful homestays can increase household income by up to 50 percent, providing much needed revenue for families. And what an exciting time for this opportunity!
With just under a year before the first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, hosted by South Africa for the first time in event history, more than 600,000 tickets have been sold from 188 countries. The Makana Township is strategically positioned within a reasonable distance from Grahamstown, renowned for many festivals, as well as Port Elizabeth, one of the host cities for the games. The main objective of our work is to ensure that township residents benefit from revenue generated from the many festivals that are held in Makana. Additionally, this initiative provides a non-traditional tourism experience that can absorb the influx of tourists during times of festival activities and other events.
Key strategic goals:
- Establish thriving enterprises; create partnerships; promote sustainable local economies (enabling environment); broaden meaningful participation
- Promote trade; encourage investment; enhance sector competitiveness; retain and create jobs
- Identify business development barriers, promote a socially responsible industry, predictable business environment and good governance; improve access, efficiency and effectiveness of redress mechanism
- Identify opportunities for economic growth and development; guide policy and planning; pilot Research and Development programs
- Increase income of poor and unemployed black, women-led households in rural South Africa
- Secure/expand employment within the poor rural communities in the tourism and service related industries
- Help communities to improve existing tourism operators and render these commercially viable
- Raise the number of tourism enterprises that are owned and run by poor, rural women
- Greater contributions to women through training on sustainable business
- Increased focus on sustainable development (i.e., alternative services, organic food, cultural crafts, alternative building methods)
- Integration of community tourism initiatives into the mainstream tourism market
- Participating enterprises will gain credibility, respect, commercial partners, empowering specific individuals and communities
I look forward to contributing to sustainable economic development in a region on the brink of a never before experienced tourism opportunity. All the better that I will be writing future blog posts from the White House Bed & Breakfast, which promises “spectacular views of the Indian Ocean.” Blog you later!