Crowdfunding to develop MzansiStore

Out alumni achieve some amazing this – Deidre has achieved a great deal and with crowdsourcing can achieve more.

Deidre writes:
After I graduated I consulted a bit but nothing really clicked for me. In 2012 I decided two things:
1. To start the business I had always dreamed I would do whilst living in the UK once I returned back home to South Africa. And not a one-person consulting business but a business that can grow, scale, create employment and build small businesses and grow micro economies: and
2. to go back to my technical roots combining all I had learnt through my ICRT Masters, other jobs I had in the UK, my travel experiences and my research interests (market access for small business, local economic development, removing barriers to global markets)

Enter MzansiStore.com – an online marketplace for South African hand-crafters, designers, artisans to promote their brand and sell their products to South Africans and the world. Each seller manages their own shop-front and ships directly to the customer.

So now I have built a Tech start-up that builds small hand-craft businesses. I have been running for 15 months and have grown to over 100 sellers. That is over 100 small creative business owners who now have access to eCommerce as a sales channel. Many have never sold on-line before, only at craft markets or in small handmade retail outlets.

And it is going OK. I have two ladies working for me and together we market this monster of an on-line business as best we can. I manage and recruit suppliers (B2B) and find customers (B2C). The South African market is still slow to accept eCommerce but there will be a Tipping Point and I will be there with MzansiStore.com when it happens. After- all you and I know a bit about tipping points. We created that tipping point for Responsible Tourism with all our collective efforts.

In the meantime my business was selected by the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 committee to be one of their official projects. They recognised that my business bridges the gap between technology and creativity. We are receiving amazing media exposure through our association with @WDC2014. We have been in national glossy magazines, tech blogs, financial newspapers.

Now – @WDC2014 has partnered with South Africa’s first Crowdfunding website called @Thundafund. All projects have the opportunity to raise funds through Crowdfunding and the @WDC2014 will match-fund my campaign by R10 000 but only if I raise my first milestone of R12 000. So this where you come in. You know how Crowdfunding works in your country:
1. if projects don’t make at least their first milestone they get NOTHING.
2. You back a project you believe in and you receive a reward. And we have some special rewards for you.

You see- I am raising funds for MzansiStore AND enabling one of my sellers at the same time. A talented young designer, Chantel, who does not have the funds to purchase a silk-screening and fabric printing equipment to bring her sketches to life, is my fundraising partner. So funds go towards this equipment AND towards marketing her new Home Decor range on @MzansiStore but will only see the light of day if you back our campaign.

Rewards are indicated in approx. euro and pound sterling conversions to make the decision easy and include standard international mail.

So help me show all my South African friends and supporters( who have been slow to back my horse) what a huge impact a successful Crowdfunding campaign can really make.

*** Help me reach all the way to Milestone 3 ***

You know what to do : www.thundafund.com/MzansiStore

Thanks

Deidre Luzmore
Founder and Director
Advertisements

Alumni Blogs

Our alumni are developing reputations as bloggers:

Vicky Smith has a blog on Volunteer Tourism a ” vehicle to air some commentary, enter some debate and discuss the developing industry sector that is Volunteer Tourism – highlighting the good and could-be-better.” Vicky hopes others will contribute too.

Her paper on paper with Xavier Font entitled ‘Volunteer tourism, greenwashing and understanding responsible marketing using market signalling theory‘, was published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism in January 2014 It has generated a lot of press coverage – more

Tweet @VolunteerTourismV (for volunteer tourism) @vickysmith to contact Vicky

Nick Stewart a sustainability professional specialising in marketing, communications, collaboration and engagement – tools for positive societal change, currently working in the Communications and Engagement team at South Downs National Park Authority  delivering integrated, multichannel awareness raising and behaviour change. More about Nick

Nick is currently working on a sustainable travel campaign called Discover More of the South Downs for Less designed to encourage visitors to ditch the car and get out to enjoy the longer, lighter days, thirteen popular visitor attractions including National Trust and RSPB are working with the National Park Authority to offer 2-for-1 entrance fees for public transport users. This is part of their “Discover Another Way” behaviour change campaign, being run jointly with the New Forest National Park Authority, encouraging visitors to swap the car in favour of other modes of transport in the National Park. Alongside improved public transport services and infrastructure development such as new cycle paths, by 2015 the campaigns aim to switch 370,000 car journeys to bus, train, cycling and walking instead, which equates to 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Background here.

If more of you are blogging let me know and I’ll add you here,

The Jus’ Sail Youth Programme Celebrates the Graduation of its 2013 Students.

Justsail1JustsailJustsail2 

On an uncharacteristically rainy and grey January evening aboard Jus’ Sail’s Carriacou Sloop Good Expectation at Rodney Bay Marina, the students, instructors and mentors of the Jus’ Sail 2013 youth sailing program were joined by some of the programs key financial supporters to celebrate the graduation of the students from the 2013 Jus’ Sail program.

Originally, the students joined the Jus’ Sail program after Jus’ Sail formed an alliance with the International Youth Foundation and their local partner the National Skills Development Centre (NSDC) who recently completed phase two of their Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program.

The weather did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the gathering, so as the rain cleared, the barbeque was lit and the drinks flowed, the three graduating students – O’Brian Forde, Vestus Severin and Mikhail St Clare – were awarded their Jus’ Sail Certificates after successfully completing the syllabus set by RYA Offshore Yachtmaster James Crockett and fulfilling an extended period of work experience with IGY Rodney Bay Marina.

In addition, the students also received their First Aid and CPR certification from St John’s Ambulance and their Swim to Survive Certificate from The St Lucia Lifesaving Association, the training for which was delivered by Germaine Anthony of the SLLA who was also in attendance. These two additional certificates formed an integral part of the Jus’ Sail program to ensure a well-rounded and thorough training regime.

An exciting announcement was also made at the event: Jus’ Sail has recently been accredited as an official Sail Training Centre with International Yacht Training Worldwide (http://www.IYTworld.com), the world leaders in internationally recognised sailing certification, endorsed by the gold standard industry body, the UK’s MCA. This important development heralds a new era of sailing opportunities for St Lucia’s youth, who can now gain access to the sailing industry through internationally recognised certification delivered right here in St Lucia at affordable prices or at no cost depending on the level of funding Jus’ Sail can achieve to support their activities.

The courses on offer with Jus’ Sail to participants in the summer of 2014 will include – International Competent Crew, Flotilla Skipper, Bareboat Skipper, Small Powerboat/RIB Master and VHF Operator certification. All the courses offer a springboard to further industry career paths.

In other news Jus’ Sail was also the recent recipient of a second vessel, the J30 Jaystar, which broke its mooring in Barbados in November 2013 and drifted to St Lucia, where by it was collected by the coastguard and brought into the Rodney Bay Marina. The vessel’s owner Ronald Hunt after over 20 years racing Jaystar across the region decided he did not want her back and sought a good home for her in St Lucia. When someone recommended Jus’ Sail, the paperwork was handed over and the local charter company now has a second vessel that is ideal for sail training. The first goal for Jaystar, funding allowing however, is a significant refit in the Rodney Bay Ship Yard undertaken with the 2014 cohort of students so that they can get first-hand experience of fiberglassing, woodwork, engine, electric and rigging repairs and maintenance.
Jus’ Sail are seeking donations and assistance to help fund the 2014 program; interested parties can contact James Crockett or by email – james@jussail.com for more information.

James Crockett is a Responsible Tourism Masters graduate.

Jo Baddeley of Thomas Cook, one of our alumni, featured on Positive Voices in Travel

Susdane is a freelance journalist and blogger with a passion for revealing the treasures of a sustainable and socially aware world.

“I first met Jo a few months ago at Sandele Eco-Retreat in The Gambia and we instantly hit it off, spending hours talking about our mutual interest: Responsible travel. Jo’s story is the tale of a small voice that gradually grew louder in a bid to introduce responsible tourism to a large organization from within.

It is an interesting one to me, as it demonstrates the amount of work that sometimes goes on behind the scenes by dedicated individuals to make mass tourism more sustainable.

 “Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to he a holiday rep”, Jo says closely followed by her infectious laugh. On holiday with her family, she would be at the rep’s desk, hassling them to show her their work. As she grew up, she learnt Spanish and wanted to travel, but backpacking was just too scary for her at that point. Solo female travel has come a long way since then.”

Read more

Some of you will notice Sean Owens, another of our alumni, in the photo “Taste of Fethiye”

Love Local in Greece with Thomas Cook

The Thomas Cook Group ‘Local Label’ excursion was borne from the overseas sustainability framework ‘Destinations of Excellence’ that was launched in May 2012.  The framework is divided into Bronze, Silver and Gold levels and resorts are targeted with meeting these criteria and reporting their progress annually.

Bronze criteria are about getting our own house in order, looking at reducing energy and water consumption in our overseas homes and offices, reducing waste and passing on practical tips to holidaymakers.

The Silver and Gold levels have criteria that relate to ‘identifying excursions within our programme that are founded in sustainability and assessing their positive impacts to local communities and economies’ (Silver level), the same applies at Gold Level however this time they must be newly created excursions not existing ones, therefore increasing the scope of our positive impacts.

Mario Klemm, Head of Operations (HOO) for Greece and Cyprus came up with the idea of promoting the ‘local’ features of our excursions as he knows that this is what his customers are interested in and knew that this would tick the right Destinations of Excellence boxes.  He approached me for support with the idea and together with Joe MacDiarmid who is Mario’s Regional Operations Manager, we created the ‘Local Label’

Locally Greek

Based on the Travel Foundation’s Greener Excursions Checklist’, the component parts of each excursion are checked against the relevant criteria (shopping, markets, food & drinks venues etc) I request detailed information from our overseas staff and send the completed checklists to an internal panel which includes a colleague from Thomas Cook Germany.  To ensure robustness, we also send at least one in five of the checklists to the Travel Foundation for external review.

If the criteria are met, the excursion can be promoted using the ‘Local Label’ logo and strapline and our overseas representatives can communicate the benefits for the destination, the local community and local economy plus the added value to our guests of taking such an excursion as they will get a more authentic and locally focussed experience.

The Local Label was officially launched in April 2013 and by July we had 28 excursions in 19 destinations.  Some excursions have been regular features on the resort planners before and seven are new for summer 2013.  Most Local Labels began to run in June with a few starting later in July, and we have been able to do a year on year comparison for these two months.

By promoting the Local Labels based on the authenticity and added value to the customer experience, we have increased our excursion sales by 42% and have sent over 5000 more customers on these excursions during this two month comparison period with 2012.  Some of the regular events saw an increase in turnover of between 59% and 280% year on year, which really does demonstrate that sustainability sells and our customers are looking for it.

In addition to the great income achievement, our customers also fill in Local Label surveys to let us know their feedback and their discretionary spend on local produce, this means that we can also demonstrate the added value to local communities and economies from our business.  These surveys will be fully analysed at the end of October 2013 when the summer season is closed.

 I’m looking forward to the introduction of more Local Labels throughout the remainder of the summer and into the winter programme, and have set myself a target of having at least one Local Label per destination by the end of summer 2014.

Jo Baddeley

Sustainable Destinations Manager

Thomas CookUK & Ireland

and ICRT Alumni

Developing a Heritage Trail in Sierra Leone, West Africa

A post from Thomas Armitt

When you have been working for some time on your ambition to create opportunities for poor communities in West Africa to benefit from tourism, it is an immense privilege to finally be able to work closely with local communities in rural Sierra Leone to put in place a tourism idea that can potentially have a positive impact on community members’ livelihood generation methods.

For the past 4 months I have been putting together a plan to create a Heritage Trail around a well known ecotourism attraction, called Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary , in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.  Tiwai itself if a unique place where 11 species of monkeys (most of which are endangered or rare), two families of chimpanzees, the endemic Pygmy Hippo, the elusive Bongo, over 135 species of birds, 700+ species of plants, and many other animals coexist on a 12sq km island that lies in the middle of a tropical river called the Moa. The area itself displays some interesting geological faults, creating white water rapids that meander through about 100 islands of varying sizes until it hits the Atlantic Ocean, which offers ample opportunities to explore, discover and let loose the adventurer in you by dugout canoe, fiber glass kayak or speedboat.

But the natural features of this unique destination are not the only interesting and exciting features of the area, even though these have been the focus of the ever increasing number of visiting tourists since the end of the well publicized Civil War that ended in 2001.

The Eastern province of Sierra Leone is home to the vibrant and very friendly Mende tribe, a group of people who are native to the region throughout four districts (Kailahun, Kono, Kenema and Pujehun). Around Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, there are eight Mende communities that traditionally own the island, and that each display unique characteristics, interesting cultural and historical heritage, and hold true to their traditional values of hospitality and respect. These are the communities that are the focus of the Tiwai Heritage Trail that I have devised, with the support of the Environmental Foundation for Africa  and Welt Hunger Hilfe , and on the back of my Local Economic Development through Tourism Module as part of my MSc in Responsible Tourism Management on the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University.

The MSc module gave me an opportunity to put together a plan for a small scale tourism intervention that could provide net benefits to local community members that surround an existing tourism venture. At the same time, I was asked by the National Tourism Board of Sierra Leone to come up with a Small Grant Proposal for Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. It couldn’t have happened at a better time! However, the process of going through the various channels to get grants takes time, and my time is limited, so I approached the Food Security and Economic Development program I work for as part of their Ecotourism Development project, and pitched the idea. They liked it and agreed to support the initial stages of the Heritage Trail development.

 Up until now, I have been using the knowledge I have gained through the MSc in terms of community participation and tourism development. I have been gaining insights into the communities’ perceptions of ‘tourism’ and of tourist expectations, understanding their current livelihood generation methods, creating sensitization activities to increase their understanding of tourism, helping them create tourist maps of their villages and their surrounding cultural heritage sites, mapping their seasonal agricultural activities so they can determine the best time for tourists to visit them, assessing their training needs for hospitality management and the possibility for roles and responsibilities to be created within the villages cultural context to deal with the incoming of tourists. I have also been mapping the Tiwai Heritage Trail with GPS by walking the bush trails that connect the villages, crossing the Moa River by dugout canoe, exploring the islands for possible tourism development such as bush camps, and training the guides up for tourist expectations and techniques to add value to the tourists’ experience.

The unique aspect to this idea is that the community members will manage the product so that they do not have to rely on outside support on a long-term basis. There are community members who live in the big cities, have influential jobs, and most importantly who are committed to providing benefits to their communities. It will be a tourism project that will be run by the communities, for the communities. Of course partnerships will have to be formed with various organizations and institutions (tour operators, government, etc…) however, the majority of the operations, from taking bookings, to organizing the communities, will solely be addressed by community members.

The work has been challenging, especially when it comes to managing community expectations to create a realistic perception about the development of tourism in their communities. No matter how many times I say that “I do not promise that this will happen” or “This will not solve all your problems”, whenever a ‘Pumui’ (white man in Mende Language) turns up in a community in Sierra Leone, automatically the perception is that he/she carries the answers to all woes, has unlimited amounts of money to throw around, and will solve health, financial and all other social problems. I am just speculating, but this may be a result of twenty plus years of International NGO focus in the country. The capital, Freetown, is home to 140+ NGOs, and a majority of the countries’ villages (even the most remote) have received at least some NGO aid in the past (a lot of which are malfunctioning wells that cost too much for the communities to repair themselves).

 Regardless, I am soldiering on with the idea, working around financial, logistical and communication limitations, and am currently in Freetown meeting with journalists, tour operators, National Tourism Board employees, potential product facilitators and partners, as well as building a website for the product, creating a visual training manual for community members, and meditating on a finely tuned management plan that can be sustainable, and grant ownership to the communities over this project.

 The deadline for the first pilot tour is November this year, and I am drumming up interest within the young Expat/NGO worker social scene for four people to join the tour. Hopefully one of them will be a free-lance journalist who could get us some coverage in a variety of newspapers and magazines, both National & International. If this project is successful (and I hope “When this project is successful), it will be a first in Sierra Leone, and could be replicated in other up and coming destinations around the country such as National Parks, Mountain Ranges, Beach areas, etc…

 All this on top of my MSc research project, marketing Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, creating an ecotourism plan for the future of the project, and experiencing the amazing potential of this unique and very beautiful country. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to fit all of this in…

For more information on Tiwai Island Wildife Sanctuary: www.tiwaiisland.org

To learn more about the Environmental Foundation for Africa activities: www.efasl.org.uk

To understand a bit about some of Welt Hunger Hilfe’s projects: www.welthungerhilfe.org

Or you can contact me on my email address: Thomas_armitt@hotmail.com.

Field Visit to Haworth

This year the field visits for the Responsible Tourism in Destinations module included Haworth. The MSc students all enjoyed Haworth and have many positive and happy memories of the place.

We recognised it is a wonderful place to live and work and that there is lots of evidence of local pride and commitment to the place and its heritage. Many, actually most, towns and villages around the world have the sort of problems we have highlighted. It’s difficult enough to balance the needs of any community with differing values and aspirations but add to that the tourism aspect and it becomes a complex issue.
Haworth has beauty and soul as well as the apathy and many of us were inspired sufficiently to return.
Nevertheless there are some issues in Haworth which need to be addressed

cmAuM5lBm_4N8Us4TmAcu5Hz1l-rLNKxsPe7fQPu1Lk

Our impressions of Haworth from a visitors perspective and perceptions of the people:

We arrived in the village with the notion of it being a Fairtrade village and were fairly disappointed. There were no signs, no explanation, no knowledge. When we asked for Fairtrade products we were met with ignorance.

In general we thought there were many interesting shops, though some of them closed. It felt like a tourist centre with no local community living there. The TripAdvisor signs and No vacancy signs underpinned this feeling.

We found the people in the shops to be polite, but quite distant. They didn’t want to engage with us or telling their story, even when we approached them directly. This had a direct influence on our willingness to buy. We also felt that the people in the shop treated us differently, when they had the impression that we only came to browse. So, even though we found Haworth to be nice and charming, we would probably not spend more than half a day there.

Haworth offers a variety of produce from food to arts and we discovered that whilst there are locally produced items available it is not immediately visible where they are from. Some items included paintings,  knitted crafts, jewellery, postcards, aprons, cosmetics and several books by local historians.  Also available and apparently popular with many tourists are regional goods such as honey, jam, chocolate and ale. Despite being the world’s first Fairtrade village it wasn’t communicated whether items for sale were Fairtrade or not.

Some shopkeepers were verbally enthusiastic about the local produce they sold but it would be useful to visitors if this was communicated through signage.

Given the area’s rich history and abundance of artists it could prove popular if demonstrations of traditional practices such as printing with an old style press could be demonstrated during events which would attract both local people and visitors and could generate a resurgence in an interest in traditional arts.

Allotments
The allotments of Haworth were visible from the main car park, Bronte parsonage and Main Street. Considering Haworth’s fair trade status and lack of food shops there is a great opportunity to sell the allotment produce via a community growing scheme. The empty area in front of the Bronte Parsonage shop could host a Victorian market style stall with local produce for both visitors and local people. A joint venture of this kind may also help to build relationships between the village and the parsonage.

Bronte Meadow
The Bronte meadow is a great asset to Haworth. The interpretation boards and seating make it inviting for visitors. However, the litter in the adjacent Bronte garden is not pleasant. The ‘flow’ of visitors can be improved by making the meadow accessible via the graveyard. A cut through point created at the graveyard interpretation sign would link to the two sites and provide an alternative route for visitors to return to the village.
Signs from the meadow to the surrounding walks and viewpoints would be advantageous. The right to roam is not common in other countries therefore it needs to be obvious and clear to foreign visitors that they can venture beyond the parsonage into the surrounding countryside.

Bronte Garden
The front garden of the Bronte Parsonage is beautifully kept by dedicated volunteers. The area on the left hand side to the Parsonage from the car park however is overgrown and untidy. The welcome sign for the museum is in this area and unfortunately its position gives a negative first impression of the parsonage. A solution would be to extend the duties of the garden volunteers to tidy this area and greatly improve the first impressions of the parsonage.

Grave Yard
The graveyard was overgrown and untidy. Whilst this may add to the atmosphere for some visitors, the yellow signs created by the church demonstrated the current tensions between the local council and the church regarding the responsibility of maintenance. The signs distracted from the experience and the grave yard would benefit from volunteer support until a solution with the local authority is found.

Car Park & Signage
The car park created a poor first impression, please see pictures. We encountered some visitors who were lost due to the confusing signage. The following actions would greatly improve the situation;

  • Declutter the area by removing the broken machine.
  • Remove the old faded ‘be thieve aware’ sign, it creates a negative impression.
  • Use consistent language ie welcome to ‘Bronte Village’ or ‘Haworth’ or ‘Bronte Parsonage and Village’ the inconsistency confuses visitors and makes it hard to form a positive expectation.
  • Install an interpretation board with a Haworth map showing all of the attractions. If done well the map will tell the visitor how long they need to stay for and encourage them to stay for longer.
  • Install benches and tables in the meadow area to provide a picnic options.
  • Ensure all signs from the car park are consistent with the information presented at the pay point. Currently new information, such as the water fall sign, is presented after visitors have paid for parking.
  • Consider making the route from the car park to the village more attractive by trimming trees so the view across the valley can be enjoyed.
  • Ensure the other village car parks have the same infrastructure and information, particularly the museum car park which would also benefit from these suggestions.

 Street Lighting
Two street lights were on in the middle of the day, including large floodlights in the museum car park.
Rubbish
Rubbish was noticed in the village. However there were lots of examples of properties that were well maintained and these isolated incidents did not detract from the overall good impression of Main Street.
Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre would benefit greatly by increasing the price of Bronte books, £2 is extremely low and visitors would happily pay up to £5-8. The additional revenue could be used to revamp the external frontage of the centre which unfortunately has lost the character and feel of the surrounding buildings.

We have been very critical – we were invited to be. We all enjoyed Haworth and have happy memoires of it.  Do not be put off going to experience Haworth – it is a great place, but it could be better.