Wilderness Foundation executive director, Andrew Muir has been selected as one of the four finalists for the 2011 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Awards Programme in the Social entrepreneur category.
This year marks the fifth awards ceremony, opening up opportunities for the winner to gain access to the Schwab Foundation’s global network, providing unprecedented opportunities to engage global decision makers.
“I am honoured to have been selected as a finalist,” says Muir. “I believe that our main strength as a foundation is the integration of social intervention and environmental sustainability. We are not just a conservation-oriented organisation. The Wilderness Foundation recognises that the sustainability of South Africa’s wild lands and wilderness is intrinsically dependant on its social and economic sustainability.”
Two of the main programmes that the Wilderness Foundation focuses on include Social Intervention and Experiential Environmental Education. The Umzi Wethu programme is one of the foundation’s flagship intervention projects. Aimed at displaced and socially vulnerable youth, the three Umzi Wethu academies train young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 for jobs in the hospitality and eco-tourism sectors.
Umzi Wethu harnesses the power of the wilderness, promotes personal wellness in a nurturing home context, provides credible training, and secures sustainable job placements in the hospitality and eco-tourism industry on behalf of the graduates.
In the area of Experiential Environmental Education, the Wilderness Foundation has established the “Pride” and “Imbewu” projects which were developed to fulfil the need for an environmental education outreach programmes among disadvantaged youth from urban and rural areas.
There are a number of Pride projects in various wilderness areas in South Africa. Since inception in 1996, Pride has introduced over 30 000 previously disadvantaged, primary and senior learners to a one-day, entry-level outdoor experience every year. The experience has been proven to help stimulate the learners’ interest in their immediate natural environment and concern for its preservation and conservation. The Pride trails are led by young, voluntary guides from the surrounding communities. Their leadership skills are identified and nurtured through relevant training in guiding, safety and environmental issues.
The sustained funding of 70% of the Pride project’s running costs has been achieved through the sale of spring water (through Woolworths) which carries the Wilderness Foundation logo. Further funding is gathered from the support of various schools and private enterprises which are passionate about the project.
Imbewu trails are similar to Pride, but are three-day long environmental experiences. Young leaders from disadvantaged backgrounds spend four days and three nights in the heart of South Africa’s nature reserves. On each trail the learners are led by one elder and one SANPARKS Field Ranger. The elders share their accumulated wisdom from lifelong work in the parks and the traditions of their forefathers.
Other nominees in the social entrepreneur category for the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Awards Programme include Catherine Wijnberg (The Fetola Foundation), Kim Feinberg (The Tomorrow Trust) andNicola Leitch (African Queen).
“We are honoured to consider these four inspiring individuals as finalists for the social entrepreneur award in South Africa. These individuals, who have created an innovative approach to addressing an important societal challenge, have invested not only tremendous positive energy into creating their enterprises but also a strong business acumen to create a scalable social enterprise that can improve the state of the world,” says Abigail Noble, regional Head (Latin America and Africa) of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
Latest posts by Siyathetha (see all)
- Help for Business Seeking Capital as Single Point for Government Incentives is Launched - 13 June 2012
- Move Your Running From the City to the Bush - 9 November 2011
- R500 000 to Local Academy in recognition as the Benchmark for Job Creation and Skills Training - 2 November 2011
- Local Social Entrepreneur up for 2011 World Entrepreneur Award - 31 October 2011
- Wild About Giving Back - 19 October 2011