Twelve years ago, on a visit to South Africa, I was introduced to Anthea Rossouw, a former director of tourism in Cape Town who heads a Foundation called Dreamcatcher.
Its aims are to build a model of sustainable and responsible community-based tourism in which visitors can experience the richness of cultural diversity and create paths to mutual understanding, trust and respect, plus a programme to empower business start-ups.
That meeting with Anthea turned out to be a life-changing experience that only happens rarely to anyone. It was a meeting that opened doors for me to new challenges, new goals and new roads to travel to new destinations.
Anthea introduced us to township families that she had been empowering and training for more than 20 years. Her aims are simple, to help men and women in the townships grow their own businesses and become self-sufficient for themselves and their families.
I have been proud to work alongside Dreamcatcher each year since that first meeting, and now when we arrive in December on the yearly visits we are again inspired by the beauty of that amazing country and the resilience of its people.
There are many success stories from the past 10 years, and also some tragedies, but overall there is the challenge of helping individuals to lead rewarding lives, to educate their children and to bring up their families in secure homes with enough food.
It is sometimes a tremendous challenge in a politically still young country, but one that could become one of the richest in the world for South Africa has some of the most valuable natural resources on the entire continent.
The challenge for local people is to not only to survive, but how to grow sustainable businesses so that they can become independent from state handouts. The current challenges of unemployment, alcohol abuse and drugs are top priorities to overcome.
Case Study 1
Baruch operates a highly successful coffee shop and outlet in Mossel Bay. In fact, he is so successful that it was voted the ‘best coffee shop’ along the Garden Route in 2014. In addition, he mentors a local soccer team of mainly unemployed under 30s. In sponsoring them, he has raised their self-belief and given them an identity.
We were so impressed with their initial achievements that we have undertaken to help raise their profile and make this team a role model for others. It is easy to lose sight of where you want to go when you are unemployed, but if you have a reason to get up in the morning, then you have a focus and a goal.
Case Study 2
Antoinette lives in Mossel Bay in the Kwanongaba township and has established her own fabric and curtain business. We have been working with her for years and I remember the time when she had lost her motivation.
Fast-forward five years and after training and coaching, she is now a successful businesswoman. Not only has her determination and success meant that she can add to the income of her husband, she can also pass on her standards and values to her children.
Antoinette is one of our great success stories.
Baruch’s soccer team exhibits the values of determination and team effort, and Antoinette shows us how commitment gives everyone a common goal.
These are values that are essential to success wherever we live and work. They are as important to us in the City of London, Business Bay in Dubai or the townships of South Africa’s southern cape.
So what does this mean to Dreamcatcher, the charitable foundation that works 365 days a year? Put very simply, this is work in progress.
Dreamcatcher has work to do that never comes to an end, but the satisfaction it affords to both Anthea Rossouw and myself, and all who work for the foundation, is impossible to quantify.
‘Ubuntu’ is a uniquely African concept that roughly translates as ‘humanity towards others’. It is used to convey the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.
That is the essential part of our learning from the townships of South Africa.
• Recognise new opportunities to make new goals.
• Commitment and focus are essential for success.
• Engage in ‘Ubuntu’, i.e., working together for the common good.