Airbnb to invest $1m to boost township entrepreneurship across SA and Africa

2017-10-24 12:32 - Unathi Nkanjeni
Post a comment 0

Cape Town - Following the first hospitality collaboration agreement between the City of Cape Town and Airbnb to help promote the ‘benefits of people-to-people tourism for Cape Town residents’, Airbnb has announced that it will invest $1 million (about R13m) through 2020 to promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa. 

The commitment is part of Airbnb’s vision to empower communities through home sharing and to promote people-to-people tourism that benefits local families and their communities.

The programme - developed in collaboration with Open Africa, the South African College for Tourism and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) - is the first of its kind by Airbnb in South Africa to support underserved communities to better their futures through tourism. 

Apart from creating jobs, Airbnb Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs, Chris Lehane told Traveller24 that the new home-sharing initiative is about connecting people, both local and international. 

“We are bringing together people from different background, to spend time and get perspective from people who are different from them as well as making it possible for people to go to places where they have never been to before,” says Lehane.

SEE: Airbnb signs Africa's first city agreement with Cape Town

As part of Airbnb’s belief that home sharing can support greater economic and social empowerment, Airbnb ran a pilot programme earlier this year - together with local partners - to support training in hospitality and technology for residents from townships across the Western Cape.

Lehane says, although Cape Town is the first to collaborate with, Airbnb will be extending the initiative - which is especially targeted at women and young people from underserved communities -  with a bigger host programme to 15 more township communities across South Africa, and scale the programme to other countries in Africa in 2019.

The programme is open to everyone, including people who do not own their own homes, thanks to Airbnb’s co-hosting feature, which allows hosts to add co-hosts to their account such as family members or trusted friends to help with some of the hosting responsibilities. They can help with as much or as little as is needed, and can then split the Airbnb income. 

This gives a formal process and infrastructure to possible income streams that otherwise would not exist. 

Added to this, Lehane says the vision for this kind of initiative is to use technology to help spread the benefits of tourism, previously "kept in the hands of a few, to the many". 

“Africa is home some of the most welcoming communities and breathtaking landscapes on earth.

"By leveraging technology to boost people-to-people tourism in Africa, we can help build a new economic engine for local families and their communities, while helping more guests enjoy magical travel experiences through the eyes of locals.

"Airbnb travel is already delivering significant economic benefits for Africa and today's investment will help kickstart new benefits for more people across Africa,” says Lehane.

SEE: Airbnb and Wesgro to harness share economy for Western Cape with new agreement

'Africa Travel Summit'

In May 2018, Airbnb will host the ‘Africa Travel Summit’ and is expecting to bring together 80 thought leaders from across the Continent, in Cape Town, to share best practices, exchange ideas and to co-create a vision for how technology can best be used for inclusive and sustainable tourism growth. 

Potential attendees - such as governments, tourism boards, development agencies, technology companies, incubators and individuals - can apply to attend the summit as of today through January 31, 2018. 

The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) will serve as the summit’s learning partner and organisations such as The World Bank Group (WBG), The United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) and The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) will also take part in the event. 

Supporting locals and nonprofits through Airbnb travel

As part of Airbnb’s vision to promote people-to-people travel that helps generate new revenue streams for more communities, Airbnb says, it will expand the Airbnb Experiences offer across the Western Cape.

This will help more locals to turn their passions into economic opportunities and showcase the best authentic experiences that guests might otherwise miss.

Airbnb will particularly focus on increasing Social Impact Experiences - the proceeds of which go directly to a non-profit organization.

What to read next on Traveller24: 

Travel nightmares: Couple finds hidden camera in Airbnb accommodation

Airbnb in Cape Town CBD flats illegal without city consent

Airbnb: The good and the bad