The year was 2004 and a handful of well-traveled people sat around a table in the heart of the Zimbabwean wilderness. With backgrounds in tourism, development and conservation, they knew they wanted to do something great. They wanted to use their passion and skills to start a travel company that made a difference. They wanted to introduce people to the Africa they knew. The people. The wildlife. The magic.
When we opened our doors to our first batch of international volunteers, we were a small, family-run organization with big dreams. It didn’t take long to see that there were a lot more people like us. People who wanted to travel while truly experiencing a country at its best, and worst. People who wanted to genuinely connect with the local people and to leave a place better than they found it. We grew and opened new volunteer projects in new countries across southern Africa.
We eventually set up home in the most beautiful city in the world, Cape Town. As the industry grew we recognized that doing the right thing, being responsible, doing good, and still providing travel experiences was, at times, complicated. We grappled with what we were… a travel company? A tourism company? How was the volunteer experience related to the impact they made? The industry was evolving, and so were we.
We are incredibly lucky to have an amazing team of people behind African Impact, most who started as volunteers and have been on this journey since the beginning. This is our strength and what has allowed us, over the years, to go beyond volunteering, to focus on what it does best; provide an exchange of ideas and mindsets. We’ve learned that if a community has total buy-in and ownership of a project – and a volunteer is truly informed about their own role and contribution to this – volunteering has the power to transform both a community and a volunteer. That is a beautiful thing and what we witness every day on our projects.
Ultimately, our goal is to take volunteering, internships and group travel as far as it can go, combining genuine impacts with extraordinary experiences. Our story isn’t over, we haven’t even scratched the surface. So, learn more about us, ask the right questions and if we’re the right organization for you, we’re excited to welcome you on our journey.