The greatest gift we can give young Kenyans and Tanzanians today is opportunity: the chance to gain a foothold in a career about which too many can still only dream.
When I was a youngster starting out, I was lucky. I won an apprenticeship with a safari company where I learned the skills and business of tourism from experienced operators. Of course, I was never paid a wage; I was happy to work and learn in return for my food and keep and one week off a year.
So I’m always keen to pay the favor of that first opportunity on. Jobs for young people today are hard to come by, especially if they haven’t received a top-class education. But I am of a firm belief that the main attributes needed to make a success of life are a natural intelligence, a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard and learn.
As a result 80 percent of my workforce today in my two camps in the Serengeti in Tanzania and two in Kenya’s Maasai Mara are locals. Once given that initial first break, they often do extremely well, and progress quickly through the ranks.
Five years ago, for example, a young man started with us, washing dishes in the the kitchen. His perseverance and aptitude paid off. Today, he is our Serian camp supervisor.
My accountant tells me I probably employ double the number of both permanent and casual staff I really need, but I am passionate about giving young people the chance to strive and thrive.
Tourism can offer some great opportunities, and it’s a joy to see our staff interact confidently with our guests and have so much of their wonderful potential recognized and truly appreciated. – Alex Walker