Bpahumze Rubuluza is the 49-year-old director and founding member of the BREARD Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on education and economic upliftment in rural communities in the Wild Coast area of the Eastern Cape. The business is focused on empowering coastal communities through tourism and unusual travel concepts.
“We have created the ‘Hike & Home’ concept which has two objectives,” explains Rubuluza. “The first is to promote the area as a world-class tourism attraction, showcasing its beauty and biodiversity. The second is to promote the home-stay concept as a viable alternative to further developing new establishments.”
The Hike & Home concept also provides rural homeowners with an income and any further profit made from the hikes is used to support local schools with maths and science laboratory kits as well as tutoring services.
“It was the paradox of seeing people living among the most beautiful parts of South Africa, but in abject poverty,” says Rubuluza. “We thought we could leverage the economic potential of the area to help the communities and fund the schools programme. We registered our non-profit in 2012 and soon organised annual career expos in the area.”
Rubuluza is one of the organisers and porters of the hikes when they take place, sometimes taking on the role of tour guide. He derives immense satisfaction from seeing the direct financial benefits affect the home-stay hosts, the fascination of the hikers and the trickle-down benefits to the education of rural learners.
“We partner with rural people that are in tourism, encouraging them to use their homes to accommodate up to 20 guests at a time,” concludes Rubuluza. “We treat visitors to the experiences of these homes, including basic accommodation and local meals. This type of tour is perfect for people who love hiking but aren’t keen on camping. We also provide porters so they can ‘slackpack’ their way along the route without carrying their backpacks.”
The attractions along the route are world-class, the experience genuinely remarkable, and the social impact extraordinary.