AndBeyond’s (or at the time CCAfrica’s) core values Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife and Care of the People have been the DNA of the company from day one. It was in 1992 that the Rural Investment Fund was launched officially – the Care Of The People heartbeat was strong in the company’s body.
It was ahead of its time, in this regard, companies relatively recently catching up to the idea of « social responsiblity » only, this was an authentic partnership and a non-negotiable element of the original vision from the start. Game reserves have neighbours and these communities are geographically rural, remote and further away from the listening ear of the public sector. They therefore tend to be underdeveloped, if not imporverishd and a long wait down the line to receive necessary input. The population living in these areas have a need for employment and game reserves whilst needing employees, are able to offer training, job positions and personal growth possibilities in hospitality or exposure to conservation, ranger or tracker training, antipoaching education and habitat management in the eco-tourism industry. These salaries sustain an estimated 10 dependents for every earner.
Beyond the walls of the lodges and boundaries of the reserves and the company’s for profit operations, CCAfrica’s relationships extended into the communities too and hence the birth of the non-profit organisation, the Rural Investment Fund (renamed Africa Foundation in 2002). From the start, Phinda became the model for all CCAfrica’s operations with lodge managers as part of their duties undertaking involvement in the community projects.
Les Carlisle, Isaac Thembe, Walter Zulu and Nicole Young were the indefatigable energies on the ground from start and in the early days of the RIF establishing these relationships with local leaders and members of the immediate communities. By identifying in consultative processes the priorities of these communities they brought proposed projects to reality, as well as ensuring their sustainability. From the start RIF established 4 different criteria in to which projects could fall, we could fund and oversee to fruition: Education, Healthcare and Access To Clean Water, Small Business Development and Conservation. These have remained the areas of focus in 68 communities from South Africa to Botswana, Tanazania, Kenya, Namibia and Mozambique, where Africa Foundation has expanded to, and where we currently operate today, 27 years later.