The tourist sector in Africa has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the absence of usual travel volumes, the safari operator, Asilia Africa, has given 70 of their young employees the opportunity to use the standstill to upgrade their qualifications.
The training programme offered training within several vocational professions such as waiter, chef, safari guide and camp manager. All trainees were offered training in positions that they did not hold, allowing them to consider future changes of job function either within Asilia or elsewhere, and with a more flexible workforce as a direct benefit to Asilia as a company.
Starting a career as guide
“I started my career as a waiter. But I have been dreaming of becoming a great guide, and this was the chance for me,” said Octavian Chuwa, training guide at Asilia.
Octavian Chuwa and the other trainees received one month of intensive training, and after qualifying they will have a mentor assigned for three to six months. If the final assessment is passed, they can continue in their new job as a junior guide, for example.
Getting a diploma
In Africa, vocational training is often based on peer training without a theoretical foundation, which means that the qualifications obtained cannot be transferred to a certificate or diploma.
To address this issue, the training programme carried out by Asilia is based on a practical as well as a theoretical approach, giving the trainees a profound insight into the job and the knowledge needed to perform in a new position.
Moreover, all participants will receive a diploma to prove that they have completed an externally certified professional training course, enabling them to prove their skills to a new employer if they choose to move on in their career.
“The appreciation from the 70 trainees for this unique opportunity has been quite overwhelming, and to be able to provide this training during the pandemic was a huge morale booster for all of us at Asilia!”
Gerard Beaton, Regional Operations Director at Asilia.
Co-financed by IFU
IFU has co-financed the training of the 70 young employees at Asilia. This is in line with IFU’s clear impact ambition to improve training and upgrade the skills of employees in IFU’s portfolio companies. The funding stems from IFU’s Sustainability Facility, which can support extraordinary social and environmental initiatives in IFU’s portfolio and forms part of IFU’s broader value proposition as an impact investor to partners.
“The training programme carried out by Asilia is a good example of how impact and value creation can go hand in hand. We are very proud to have facilitated this training programme, not least during perhaps the most difficult period for Asilia and the safari industry ever, which truly is a win-win for both the company and its young employees,” said Emil Sierczynski, Senior Investment Manager at IFU.
IFU is a proud partner of Asilia Africa since 2020, when IFU provided emergency debt capital alongside i.a. Norfund, the Norwegian DFI and current shareholder in Asilia. IFU’s investment hypothesis was that assisting the company, a key player in the East African safari market, to get through the pandemic safely, would safeguard decent jobs in an exposed sector and continue Asilia’s efforts within conservation even with limited economic activity.