A tourism entrepreneur from Colesburg in the Northern Cape is living proof that a quest for education can be the start of a life-changing journey. Inspired by the New Youth Venture initiative of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, MbuleloKafistarted his tourism business Sakhisizwe Tours in 2009.
This initiative was aimed at developing and supporting young tourism entrepreneurs in the province and Kafi’s innovative business concept was awarded with a R25 000 start-up prize for office equipment and the latest technology. With the assistance of the department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, he completed various tourism and business related programmes as well as a tourist guide training course. His business received a significant boost when he was included at the tourism marketing destination agency’s stand at the prominent INDABA travel expo.
SakhisizweTours specialises in heritage tours including Anglo Boer war commemoratives sites, architectural tours, township and nature tours. Using traditional donkey carts have added a special authentic touch, which definitely appeals to local and international visitors. Part of their customised itineraries included guided hikes to rock art sites and rubbing stones and lessons in playing traditional instruments like the gong. Some of their distinguished guests have included the British High Commissioner and Paralympic swimming champion Natalie du Toit.
Kafi continued his quest to improve his business offering and service standards and enrolled for his Advance Customer Care qualifications through CATHSSETA, the education and training authority for the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sectors. On completing his Level 5 NQF training, the success story of Sakhisizwe Tours and its owner caught the attention of the training authority and Kafi was selected to star in a television documentary.
The documentary crew accompanied Kafi as he took a group of learners from a local high school on a tour and then interviewed his family to discover what impact Sakhisizwe Tours has made in their lives. “The business has changed our lives completely and has helped me to put bread on the table and support my whole family,” mentions Kafi.
According to Sharron Lewis, CEO of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, the story of Sakhisizwe Tours is a true victory for the tourism entrepreneur development programme in the programme. “We have been committed to developing and supporting tourism entrepreneurs in the Northern Cape. We are convinced that this is the only way of achieving real and sustainable tourism growth in the province. Operations such as Sakhisizwe Tours also lend an authenticity to the travel experience of visitors to our province. Cultural tourism has indeed become increasingly appealing, but tourists are expecting meaningful engagements with local communities – and that is something that only someone like Mbulelo with his roots entrenched in his community can offer,” explains Lewis.
She further commended Kafi on his dedication to improving his business. “Mbulelo constantly strived to enhance his business offering and to further develop his skills. We have numerous programmes in place to support entrepreneurs in the tourism industry, who are willing to commit to hard work and delivering exceptional service,” comments Lewis.