... 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.
... 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 was drawn to Open Africa because of their attention to detail and the unique and individual approach to each tourism product. I am a keen traveller with strong community roots and I love to work on projects that have a real impact on rural areas and allow the hidden gems to be showcased."
A well trained tourism practitioner, with more than 10 years’ experience in tourism development, Genevieve joined the Open Africa team as a project manager. She has experience with tourism infrastructure development, tourism routes and SMME support. Genevieve loves the diversity of culture, the wide open spaces and regards it as an adventure to live on the African continent. She loves to explore the hidden gems of the Northern Cape with her family.
"The opportunity to use tourism as a way of unlocking economies of silence, the legislative silence of the black majority up till 1994, is a beautiful thing."
Iain has been following Open Africa loosely for some years since establishing Coffeebeans Routes. They were creating urban routes, proprietary experiences focused on cities, so when the chance came to work with Open Africa in rural areas he was eager to get involved.
A born nature-lover with an insatiable curiosity, Jeanene studied fine art, philosophy, psychology, architectural draughting, environmental education and horticulture, as well as completing short courses in animal behaviour and animal psychology. It’s not surprising that she landed up being drawn to Open Africa, where many of her talents and skills can be applied in her role as Northern Cape Route Mentor.
Jeanene is inspired by the untapped potential of the tourism industry as a job creator and feels strongly about the preservation of South Africa’s natural environment as well in preserving and promoting its diverse and cultural heritage. She looks forward to working with Open Africa and being able to the opportunity to pass on some wisdom and lessons learnt in her 30+ years of direct involvement in nature conservation and tourism.
"Tourism in South Africa is like a colourful tapestry of vastly different cultures woven together to create something unique and even more beautiful. South Africa is dynamic, diverse and surprising at every turn. The wealth of innovative, creative people inspires me daily and I can't get enough of the stories told by our rainbow nation."
A wanderer from a young age, Lisa used her degree and teaching diploma in an eco-focussed school but also found inspiration at a small tented lodge near Hoedspruit, offering walking safaris before starting and running one of the top Birding and Eco-Lodges in the country. In addition, she writes for Country Life Magazine in her spare time.
As a fourth generation Bezuidenhout growing up on the family estate in the Green Kalahari, Martiens has always been fascinated by local history. Thanks to parents with a love for travel, he has been privileged enough to witness the remarkable impact tourism can have on the lives of communities throughout our beautiful country.
Martiens decided to become involved with Open Africa because it gave him an opportunity to give back to this wonderful and unique region that he gets to call home. Getting to work with people that are as diverse as they are friendly, in an environment offering awe-inspiring beauty around every corner inspires him most.
"I've always been a traveller; always moving and never homesick. There are many benefits to travel, too many to go into, and I believe it should be accessible to everyone. Open Africa has a unique approach to tourism, and I was attracted to their inclusive attitude and development focus."
With 15 years of experience working in Youth Development, Vasti pours her passion and energy into building the South Africa she wants. She has a Bachelor of Social Science degree, with majors in English Literature and Social Anthropology, from the University of Cape Town. She started at Open Africa in 2017 remains excited about the opportunity to work in rural areas of Africa. Vasti has worked with a number of NGOs in the Cape Town area including SHAWCO, Catholic Welfare and Development and the Edmund Rice Camps in the Western Cape. She has lived in New Zealand; taught English in South Korea and currently resides in Johannesburg with her husband. She is interested in using the latest online tools to organise and present information in a creative way for the benefit of small businesses.
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