Unemployment in rural communities can be tackled by identifying and empowering entrepreneurs, whose small, emerging enterprises can be an effective means of job creation. Africa Foundation identifies opportunities and helps start-ups. In particular, Africa Foundation stimulates the potential for income generation through a highly successful skills training program and access to technology.
Effective skills training programs are essential to rural development and are a result of active community involvement and ownership of the process, along with access to appropriate resources for training. Africa Foundation sponsors groups of community members in intensive three-month training courses in Kwa-Zulu-Natal. The program teaches skills such as plumbing, carpentry, electrical knowledge, brick-laying, tiling, plastering and emerging contractor training. Students are selected through local authorities and include men and women of various ages. They arrive unemployed and semi-skilled, but leave with basic levels in all skills.
Since its inception, Conservation Corporation Africa (now andBeyond) has trained members of local communities to work in all aspects of safari lodge operations. Community members are rangers, chefs, dining room staff and house keepers. In addition to providing valuable income to community members, these jobs strengthen the connections between the lodge and the community.
Agricultural projects such as provision of water and assistance with vegetable gardens have reduced malnutrition and encouraged entrepreneurial farming. In many instances, the projects have not only provided communities with food but have produced extra income. Examples are bee-keeping projects in Kenya and Tanzania, bakeries in South Africa and the development of vegetable gardens in communities and schools, such as the Mketse School permaculture garden in Lillidale outside South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Africa Foundation has assisted community members in selling crafts, both at andBeyond lodges and also at newly built crafts markets adjacent to highways traveled by tourists.