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Zimbabwe urged to seek support from African Wildlife Foundation

Zimbabwe urged to seek support from African Wildlife Foundation

new-awf-june2-2015

The funding from the organisation supports community based tourism enterprises, which could become crucial in rebuilding the country’s tourism industry.

 
ZIMBABWEAN entrepreneurs have been encouraged to seek funding from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), which supports conservation-related commercial tourism projects across the continent.

 

The funding from the organisation supports community based tourism enterprises, which could become crucial in rebuilding the country’s tourism industry.
Many hotels and lodges have been operating without a facelift for many years, while scores more have closed due to underfunding.
There are no Zimbabwean entrepreneurs under the current number of funded projects, according to AWF president, Kaddu Sebunya, who spoke exclusively to this newspaper last week.
But entrepreneurs running safari lodges and other tourism enterprises that require fresh funding were open to apply, although funding would be released based on project viability, he said.
“In Zimbabwe, we don’t have a project at the moment,” Sebunya told the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets in Harare.
“Your project must also benefit the local communities. We don’t have a limit, funding is dependent on the size of your project. You must be able to pay so that we invest the profit in wildlife conservation activities,” said the AWF chief.
The AWF says as African economies grow, a new segment of investors has emerged who seek financial returns while at the same time placing value on making an impact through social and environmental attention.
However, these projects are mostly located in regions that banks in most countries are unwilling to fund, hence the decision by AWF to set up a fund to help these firms.
“These investments will protect habitat and biodiversity, while generating economic benefits for people who live alongside wildlife, achieving an ideal balance between economic development and conservation,” AWF said in its 2015 annual report.
These are the types of projects that entrepreneurs can access funding for and repay over a period of more than 20 years.
Sebunya said banks were shunning funding of such projects and the AWF had realised the need to avail funding in order to encourage the private sector to invest in projects that deliver conservation, not just harvesting returns.
The African Wildlife Capital (AWC), the unit responsible for lending to private sector investors, is involved in the Rungwe Avocado project in Tanzania, which benefited from a US$950 000 loan.
In Namibia, the AWC funded the Grootberg Lodge for US$245 000.
“While the lodge was providing some employment to the local Khoadi-Haas community, business and structural design flaws had limited its potential,” AWF says about the Namibian project.
“AWC provided a loan that allowed for much needed improvements. Initially, lodge revenue after renovations was expected to generate four times its current annual revenue of US$45 000. Grootberg is now on track to have its highest grossing year ever. The conservancy is in the process of establishing an education trust as well as predator fund to compensate for livestock losses from human-wildlife conflict, extending the positive impact of the lodge,” AWF said in its annual report for 2015.

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