The Thebe Tourism Group has sponsored R50 000 to develop Lungi’s B&B in Khayelitsha. The B&B was opened by former domestic worker Numalungelo “Lungi” Pango in February 2010, but sadly devastated by a shack fire in 2014 before being rebuilt and reopening in September 2015.
Thebe Tourism Group General Manager, Brett Hendricks, announced the donation after being made aware of this inspirational story in his role as board member of Cape Town Tourism and on the Board Development Fund (BDF) commitee, a programme started in 2014 to assist SMME owners from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Lungi’s B&B placed third at the BDF’s Awards last night, missing out on the two R50 000 prizes which went to Turning Point B&B and Maboneng Township Arts Experience. So moved by the story, Hendricks and his fellow Thebe Tourism Group executive team members agreed to contribute R50 000 to assist in the development of Lungi’s B&B.
The dream of opening Lungi’s B&B was born while Lungi worked as a domestic worker at a B&B in Sea Point and noticed that tourists were interested in experiencing township life. In 2010 through her employer Marijke Frijters’ assistance in initial fundraising, her dream became a reality with Lungi’s B&B opening its doors in February 2010.
The R50 000 grant will be used to build a fence and a gate, to create a new garden and replace furniture destroyed by the fire in 2014; to invest in the ‘Makaha Youth in Art Project’; as well as to further her hospitality education and to get her official tour guide qualifications.
“Lungi’s story is powerful and inspiring and her entreprenneurial spirit and self-belief have been evident throughout her journey,” said Hendricks. “In many ways it resonates with the Thebe story which came from humble beginnings and has since grown into a significant, respected black-owned business. We aim to empower her in building a sustainable business, and this kind of initiative could be the start of something much bigger for Thebe Tourism going forward.”
Hendricks also challenged other companies in the private sector to come on board to transform the tourism sector by uplifting community-based businesses. Celebrating their 15th year in the industry next month, there couldn’t be a more fitting way for Thebe Tourism (the oldest black-owned tourism business in South Africa) to celebrate the occasion by empowering Lungi’s B&B in the Makhaza community in Khayelitsha; an action true to Thebe’s pay-off line “Building communities. Our bottom line.”
“In South Africa, the SME market is where our growth will come from and we cannot rely solely on government for funding and support; we, as the private sector, must play a major role in driving innovation, sustainability and transformation in tourism. This, in turn, creates the space for entrepreneurs to engage with their ideas and bring them to fruition. We’ll take Lungi’s experience with us and learn from it as much as she is empowered by Thebe Tourism, that will be part of informing our role in the initiative going forward,” added Hendricks.