... founded Open Africa. A farmer's son who started out as a commercial entrepreneur, he founded Avis Rent a Car in Southern Africa. Later entered the corporate world as Managing Director of the Security, Travel, Transport, and Tourism interests of the Rennies Group and thereafter served as Chairman and Managing Director of a similar division in the Freight Services Group. Founded Prime Leasing in partnership with Nedfin, founded SAVRALA (The Southern Africa Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association); and served as deputy chairman of SATOUR. Member of the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), and founder member of the Peace Parks Foundation.
Elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2006 and a finalist in the 2009 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
... Irish by birth, is married (to Katrine), has two daughters (Kerry & Clare) and has recently returned from London to reside in Cape Town. He commenced his career in South Africa with Roberts Construction and probably is still the only Irish graduate of Free State University.
He went on to serve as a Partner in Davis Langdon (the world's largest construction consultancy) for some 30 years, first in Southern Africa and then in London. He served on the firm's Board from 1995 and in the five years from 2003 to 2008 as its Chief Executive and International Managing Partner.
As Chief Executive he led a multi-cultural international team which successfully motivated, developed and delivered innovative strategies and initiatives, as business plans, within complementary budget parameters. Much of his sustained success came from nurturing internal and external relationships, ensuring effective communications, together with sound financial risk management and reporting. Beyond commercial concerns, a further element of his brief was to harness the firm's international 'corporate social responsibility', one output from which was the direct financing, design and delivery, to the local community, of an orphanage school in Aceh, in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami.
He also established and administered an international bursary fund, focused on tertiary education, which enabled successful applicants to realise their academic potential.
Extramurally, Alastair has been a frequent author of articles and speaker at conferences on a broad range of themes relative to the built environment. He Chairs the South African chapter of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which focuses on the creation of sustainable city environments for the future. He also advises ‘Super Neighbourhoods’, a charitable enterprise dedicated to uplifting the physical environments of underprivileged communities. He is a Director of an energy drinks company and of a company specialising in the production of life saving auto-disabling syringes for Africa.
...(62), married with three daughters, is an enthusiastic intrepid traveller and explorer with a passion for remote places, having driven to many different parts of South and southern Africa including Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, acting as Mein Host to family and friends. These travels are not restricted to Africa as they include travelling through parts of the Australian Outback along the edge of the Simpson Desert, Oodnadatta, Old Andado and Hermannsburg, west of Alice Springs. Southern Patagonia has also been one of Delwin's destinations. Some of his trips can be described as adventurous expeditions and as such he has a strong appreciation of what Open Africa could do for the rural communities in Africa that he has come into contact with over the years.
Delwin, a CA (SA) with the IMM marketing diploma, was until recently the Group Finance Director of the JSE listed, specialist chemical services company, Omnia Holdings Ltd, having joined the board as an executive director in March 2000. Prior to his involvement at Omnia he has held a number of financial directorships in a range of different industries including manufacturing, FMCG, Mining and the hospitality industry. He has been involved in the tourism industry in his private capacity over the past 25 years.
Besides playing golf, Delwin's hobbies include documenting his travels on expertly produced DVD's which serve as pleasurable memories for his co-travellers. He is also a keen "birder", a lover of the outdoors.
... cum laude UCT MBA - founder of SABRI (SA Business Resources Institute).
Charmaine has wide experience across a number of disciplines and serves on the boards of Pro-active Health Solutions and the Small Enterprise Foundation, as well as undertaking mentorship among Old Mutual women in middle management. Charmaine’s CV reads like a first class in everything, which is why Open Africa is especially privileged to have the benefit of her wisdom and experience. She lives in Johannesburg and frequently commutes between there and her other office in Cape Town.
... is a BSc graduate in Computer Science and Geology with an MBA. After a career in information technology (IT) consulting and banking, Lehotlo became a partner at KPMG until recently, when she decided to pursue her own entrepreneurial interests. She is now managing director of her own consulting company, Evolut Consulting, which focuses on BEE legislation, small business development, rural development and strategy consulting.
The work she has done in the recent past was for state-owned and private entities where BEE assessments were done to evaluate processes that needed to be put in place in order to facilitate the incorporation of BEE into the business operations and to become BEE-competent organisations.
Lehotlo's core skills are in strategy formulation and implementation, information technology, project and programme management, small business development, project funding, performance measurement, risk management, BBBEE and transformation, all subjects germane to Open Africa's initiative.
... is a trained geographer with significant experience in rural and community development. Francois joined Open Africa in 2005 as a route developer before moving into the role of operations manager and finally, general manager in July 2012. He has an MA in geography and environmental science, a BA (Hons) in environmental spatial planning and analysis, a BA in information science and is currently completing his MBA with the University of Stellenbosch.
"Initially, I was drawn to work here because it allowed me to travel. What I didnt anticipate was how much I would fall in love with the participants. Africa is home to so many extraordinary people, all of whom have wonderful stories to tell. I love Open Africa because it gives me the opportunity to help those people tell their stories."
A trained geographer with significant experience in rural development, Francois joined Open Africa in 2005 as a route developer before moving into the role of operations manager and finally, general manager in July 2012. He has an MA in geography and environmental science, a BA (Hons) in environmental spatial planning and analysis, a BA in information science and is currently completing his MBA with the University of Stellenbosch. Like most of the Open Africa team, Francois enjoys the outdoors. He tries to spend every available weekend hiking the mountains of Cape Town with his two Labrador retrievers.
"Seeing others at a disadvantage makes my heart bleed, and knowing that I have helped them gives me strength every day."
With a Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administration (CIS) qualification, an MBA and more than 20 years of experience, Josephine is instrumental in executing Open Africa’s high governance and financial controls. Previous experience includes stints as financial manager at Maitland’s Zimbabwe and reconciliation manager at Trust Bank. Josephine is quite a woman. Having lost both parents as an infant, she has always been inclined to help people through hardship, dedicating her life to supporting others – including her own three children and her deceased brother’s five children. Josephine enjoys playing with her four-year-old grandson, who lives with her, and going to church. She considers Open Africa her second home.
"I felt instantly drawn to and inspired by Open Africa’s unique vision and wanted to scale the results. I love the business model of offering authentic travel experiences which help sustain local people and conservation. There are many causes out there, but this one really taps into my interests and heart."
With a Business Science Marketing degree from the University of Cape Town and over 15 years’ experience in branding and communications, Kate is passionate about making a meaningful contribution at this point in her life. Previously, Kate drove the re-branding of Heart, a social enterprise incubator, and prior to that was co-founder and director of Burns Strategic Planning, head of marketing at Brait Cape Town and head of Lowe Bell and Mann Communications Cape Town. Kate is kept busy being a mother of two, sometimes dragging her family to far-flung destinations, and still manages to fit in the occasional surf, which she loves.
After studying journalism Claire dived straight into travel writing where she cut her teeth in online copy writing, editing and all things digital at Globe Media, working on Word Travels destination guides. Always keen to learn more, she completed a short course in Internet Marketing with the University of Cape Town and dabbled in the world of PR as a media liaison for GetSmarter, an online education company. She also assisted as an online content producer for eLearning start-up, Kwiksta before finding her calling as part of the Open Africa team. A born and bred Capetonian, nature lover, news junkie and avid cookbook reader, when Claire’s not catching up on the latest news you’ll find her in the kitchen cooking for friends and family.
"I get pleasure from making a difference, creating a platform for positive change and seeing a happy, young, innocent face smile back at me. It’s more than thank you. I have been there, know how it feels and would not like those after me to experience same."
With a Diploma in Business Leadership and a CIPS Certificate in Purchasing and Supply, Benson gained his working experience both in private and public sector in Zimbabwe. He started as a retail stationery shop manager then moved into broadcasting, initially as a purchasing officer and rising to Human Resources and Administration Executive. Benson’s core competences are in supply chain management and administration. At Open Africa Benson is in the Operations Support Office; whose duties involve, among others route development logistics, monitoring and evaluation and administration.
With a background in Tourism Operation Management as well as Project Management, it's no wonder Siviwe ended up with Open Africa. Having spent the better part of his youth assisting rural entrepreneurs in developing small enterprises, working to empower less fortunate people rise above their circumstances has been his dream.
Siviwe spent time working at some well-known consulting firms in South Africa working as a management consultant and project manager, which equipped him with the expertise to assist and uplift the communities that Open Africa works with. He believes that it is here, with the communities that his education will finally begin.
"A friend once said to me; whilst I was exploring what I want to pursue as a career, why don’t you look into rural development? I then began to wonder what rural development is and how can I play a role… Working with communities in some of the remotest parts of the world has inspired me to make a positive difference at every corner. ‘Amartya Sen: the enhancement of freedom is ultimately an important motivating factor for assessing economic and social change’. Through Open Africa I believe that we are creating opportunities of freedom."
Neil studied a BA (hons) degree in International Development and Economics at the University of Northampton and has worked in Nepal, South Africa and Namibia supporting communities and conservation programmes. In Namibia, Neil worked for BEN Namibia supporting entrepreneurs develop and expand businesses throughout Namibia and for IRDNC supporting community conservancies in the Kunene Region. Neil has a particular interest in social enterprise development and completed his honours thesis on microfinance concepts and the linkages between government, NGOs and communities in alleviating poverty.
"I am really excited to fulfill the position of KZN route Coordinator for Open Africa. Not only does it combine my passion for communities and tourism, but enables me to be a positive influence, contributor and catalyst in the positive upliftment of rural communities living in unique tourism nodes of our province."
Kirsty grew up in the small town of Winterton at the foothills of the Drakensberg. In 2001 she started her degree in Social Dynamics at Stellenbosch University where she majored in Sociology and Environmental studies. In 2006 she completed her honours degree in Community Development at University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban. Kirsty always dreamt of working in the travel and tourism industry and spent a year at Pentravel before realising she wanted to fulfil her passion for community upliftment. Together with her husband, she launched African Fig, a small consulting company that aims to empower businesses to operate successfully in the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits. Most of their work focuses on the hospitably industry where they run staff motivation, leadership development and professionalism workshops and processes.
Born and raised in the beautiful Eastern Cape, Yoli, as she is affectionately known, moved to Cape Town in 2004 where she worked for the South African Revenue Service. In 2008 she decided to further her studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, completing a course in public relations management before joining the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) Western Cape’s Executive Committee as an administration and student representative. She went on to work for the City of Cape Town’s Communications Department as an intern and marketing officer and joined the board for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in the Western Cape in 2012. Yoli spent two years as the communications and fundraising developer at the Student YMCA at the University of Cape Town before joining the Open Africa team. When she’s not catching up with friends and family, Yoli loves to read and keep up to date on current affairs.
"Work together, play together."
Johan and Magda de Waal are a husband and wife team who are passionate about life, people and family.
They tackle every angle of life with enthusiasm and creativity and through that they share their vision and knowledge for sustainable tourism.
If you have any questions or queries please contact us.