Our partnership with the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy culminated in the first group of individuals from our Mitchell’s Plain community attending a boot camp in which they were introduced to the concept of Airbnb Experiences and the opportunity to list their homes on the platform. The group was split in two. One group focused on learning what goes into listing their homes, and the other, crafting unique experiences in and around the places they claim as home.

The initiative is meant to inspire community members in underserved areas to share their ideas, their passions, their skills and their warm, welcoming hearts with the international community. The partnership aims to drive an influx of post-covid tourism and the emergence of tourism entrepreneurs in South Africa.

The first day of the Bootcamp (and every other) started with a legendary RLabs breakfast, then some theory, and finally an experience that most participants claim they’ll never forget. The theory covered the concept of the sharing economy, an overview of the Airbnb story, various travel & hospitality opportunities, the Airbnb rating system, and various good and unfavourable scenario discussions. All these topics aimed to discuss what constitutes a world-class tourism service.

After these, they were all whisked away on three local experiences to gain insights into what constitutes a unique experience. The aim was to show the participants just how unique their own cultures are and how they all have something unique to offer the international community.

Two groups visited the Bo Kaap community. One enjoyed a walking tour where the host talked them through the rich, astonishingly misrepresented history of the so-called Cape “Malay” community and blew their minds with a koeksister (a sweet-spicy, coconut-covered, doughnut-textured Cape delicacy) from Aunty Fatima’s. Capetonians know koeksisters… But these took the cake.

Cooking experience

Another enjoyed a phenomenal cooking experience with Aunty Faldela, who informed them on yet another perspective of the rich cultural history of the area, and the cooking traditions of its inhabitants. The participants then proceeded to cook an actual Cape Malay curry and made their very own rotis, with detailed instruction of course. The experience is not entirely foreign to other Capetonians, yet struck the participants as unique. It just “serves,” to show that even within a culture there are so many different takes on how things are done.

A third group even ventured into the Khayelitsha (a Xhosa word meaning, New Home) township for a tour of one of their budding urban farms. Their host, Xolisa, walked them through the farm and educated them on how to weed & prepare the soil, and how to transplant seedlings. One of the guests reported that his artistic nature turned the act of gardening into art. He aims to make gardening cool and get more and more hands and knees in the soil again. Participants even got to prepare some soil and plant spinach seedlings of their own.

The next day started with the participants sharing their respective experiences, some greatly impacted by Xolisa, some still feeling the pride of cooking their very first curry, and the rest, reminiscing about Aunty Fatima’s koeksisters and shaken by the truth of historic narratives (all the more reason for telling and documenting the actuality of our cultural stories and experiences). Then they all discussed and considered the details of their experiences and how they could structure and conduct their unique offerings.

Next, they were treated to an interview, followed by a keynote address from yet another Airbnb host Bo Kaap. Her name is Fayrouza Abrahams, an ex-flight attendant and bank employee who had enough of the toxic residue of the corporate culture. She orated her experiences, her acute highs and lows and how instead of breaking her, they drove her on a path of healing, which led to her starting her very first Airbnb experience and subsequently, a range of personalised products.

Her story was so moving that most of the participants decided then and there to seriously consider what they’ll offer. A few took their experiences or homes live, almost immediately. Geronimo De Klerk, from Elsies River, now also hosts a gardening experience in the Elsies River area. Aunty Wilhelmina Sheldon is currently readying her home and online profile for listing. Chesnay Fortuin, from Heideveld, is now also offering a Mendhi Art experience, in which her patrons will receive an elaborate skin-artwork (like a tattoo) of henna. The rest are gearing up to go live soon as well.

Gardening experience

The final day was spent fine-tuning their profiles, reviewing and discussing what they could all do better to ensure their profiles and experiences stand out on the platform. The day was spent laughing, exchanging ideas, and buzzing in front of computer screens, before enjoying a final, legendary RLabs-style snack while socialising and saying sad farewells.

The experience has brought the participants together, as they mutually decided to create a WhatsApp support group to help them all on their respective journeys. It’d be appropriate to conclude that the boot camp was a great success and that both RLabs and Airbnb are Making HOPE Contagious in quite a tangible way.

With that said, it seems there will undoubtedly be more opportunities to join one of these boot camps.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.