Friday morning we had two speakers come talk to us, Ali Meadows and Luvuyo Rani. Dr. Meadows first talked to us about sustainable tourism in South Africa. She said that what defines a country is the people who lives there, but also the places in the country. The gap between the rich and the poor is decreasing in South Africa, which is great, but 73% still live off $1 a day. She also talked to us about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and that most South Africans are in the stages of having to meet their lower needs such as physiological and safety.
After giving us a background on the current economic situation, she then discussed the benefits of tourism. Dr. Meadows said that tourism has the most potential of any industry globally to help them meet their needs. South Africa’s greatest asset is their natural resources. Tourism is devoted to 60% of their economy, which is a huge number, but at the same time, they cannot be too dependent on it. Dr. Meadows concluded saying that she believes ecotourism is the answer for South Africa in the sense that it is based on natural resources, has low impact, is non-consumptive, educational, contributes to conservation, involves the local communities, and also is ethical.
Later in the day Luvuyo Rani, the founder of Silulo Technologies came to speak to us. He was by far one of my favorites speakers who made me think that if he was able to start this successful company coming from very little, then anyone can. Silulo Technologies is somewhat of an internet café, but they offer so much more such as printing, copying, and even computer classes. Luvuyo said that he saw a need in the community, but did not know much about computers, so he got a partnership and went from there. He has been business started already but he plans to expand even more into other areas. Go Luvuyo!
In addition, we had a tour of Bandwidth Barn that afternoon, a five-story building which contained many dozens of small businesses. To me, it seemed like a hippie/organic themed industry compared to what we have in the States. It was very interesting and I liked all the shops where everything was handmade and contained original pieces. I also enjoyed hearing about Grand Daddy Hotels. It blew my mind that they put the trailers on the roof before getting permission, something that would be unthinkable to do in the US.