For the past two decades, discovering and supporting unique local small businesses has been deep at the heart of Via Africa. The Via Africa Conference ‘Local is Lekker’ programme was officially launched in December 2015 to formalise our sustainability commitments.
We identified three core priorities:
- Supporting brilliant local businesses
- Accelerating transformation through driving social development
- Reducing our carbon footprint
We define ‘Sustainability’ as the capacity of something to be maintained and, ideally, grow itself. It’s about consciously uplifting others as we go about our daily business. This ‘pay it forward’ system results in great relationships, excellent customer service, and that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from doing the right thing.
When we support small local business, we:
1. Celebrate and showcase the uniqueness of our community/county
2. Support local jobs and keep money in our local economy
3. Help the environment as products or services are close by
4. Encourage a sense of community
5. Benefit from local expertise
6. Invest in entrepreneurship
7. Drive growth and foster collaboration
8. Bask in reflected glory
9. Develop wonderful trusting relationships which ensure fantastic client service, which we happily pass on to our LOCs.
Our support can be grouped into four areas:
- Sourcing unique, locally made items of the highest standard for our conference bags, including the bags! From rogue leather bags to recycled hessian products. From colourful shweshwe lanyards and gleaming copper craft items to well-loved beaded items – our conference bag and goodies are sure to delight.
- Using local caterers to provide exceptional quality for our delegates. For example, Zannas makes delicious homemade shortbread cookies for our conference bags, which go beautifully with some local organic Sabie Valley coffee. What a way to start the morning!
- Booking the best entertainment to showcase what South Africa has to offer. For example, the Song Birds are a school choir that we just love. Hearing them sing in the Selati Railway Restaurant at Skukuza has brought many a tear to our delegates’ eyes. Visit their facebook page ‘The Song Birds’
- Using technology to ‘go green’. Many conferences are now running with e-programmes which saves a lot of paper (aka trees), cuts down production lead time, is cost effective and reduces our carbon footprint.