The Airbnb Academy is a skills programme focused on giving tourism entrepreneurs from rural and under-resourced communities the tools to succeed on Airbnb.
Technology has enabled these entrepreneurs to feel empowered to open their homes to guests or create experiences that feature their neighbourhoods or their unique skills, allowing them to earn additional income.
By booking a stay or experience with a graduate of the Academy, travellers become part of their journey, supporting communities and creating deep and long-lasting connections.
Meet the Airbnb Academy experience host graduates from South Africa.
Busi Msimango is a Home and Experience host in Soweto, where she grew up in the same home she now hosts from.
“Media has portrayed Soweto as unstable and dangerous, but we actually have a ‘can-do’ attitude. We have to find ways to get by. We find solace in music and community and in being hospitable and making sure that everyone around us is safe.”
Madite Moalusi grew up in Soweto in Gauteng and has been a host on Airbnb since 2018. Through his Experience, Madite takes guests to a local nature reserve for a run or a hike, while also giving visitors a local’s perspective on his community.
“I had a guest from the USA. Like me she jogs, which was great because we had a mutual way of breaking the ice. It was interesting because I told her that life will actually show you how we are similar even though we are from different parts of the world. It’s just about finding mutual ground and ways to communicate.”
Buntu Matole and Ayanda Cuba
Childhood friends Buntu Matole and Ayanda Cuba spent most of their lives in Khayelitsha. With a passion for sport as well as their community, they founded an organisation called Sporting Code with an aim to use sport as a positive influence in the lives of children and young people growing up in under-resourced communities. Gradually, Ayanda and Buntu moved into tourism, listing a running Experience on the Airbnb platform and later, a cycling Experience and a ‘Party in the Township’ Experience. These Experiences take guests through Khayelitsha to highlight the culture, delicious cuisine, great music and the passionate community.
“Tourism plays a huge role in Cape Town and it contributes a big percentage to the economy. For us to really understand and be invested in this space helps us build our community.”
Buntu and Ayanda’s Experience
Lindi Dlamini was born and raised in Soweto, where she still lives today with her husband. Her History Lunch experience invites guests into her intimate home museum to learn about where she grew up, the struggles, as well as highlights of Soweto and, of course, to taste local food. “
“I knew that I didn’t want a commercialised business, I wanted something authentic. That was when I came up with the ‘home museum’ – for people to come to my home and see where I come from. In life you have to think out of the box and be creative.”
Toe Shozi is 35-years old and grew up in iNdwedwe in the area of Maphephetheni. Toe’s decision to become an Airbnb host was driven by the fact that she enjoys sharing the values and traditions of her Zulu heritage with people who know very little about her culture.
“I learned a lot [through the Airbnb Africa Academy training]. Especially about how to use social media to market my own experience. Also, I used to take beadwork for granted because I thought it’s only for someone who is not educated. But after the training, I met a lot of people who were interested in my beadwork, which made me think that this is very important. I was taking myself for granted, until I met all these people interested in my work.”
Faldela Tolker hosts a cooking experience in Cape Town’s colourful BoKaap. She is a mother of four children, and a grandmother to four grandchildren. Faldela’s passion for cooking has taken her to France where she represented South Africa at a cooking event. With her Airbnb Experience, Faldela is able to meet people from all over the world, showcase her community and talk about Cape Town through her food.
“These experiences are more about the friendship that you build up with your guests. Sometimes you make such an impact on other people without realising that you are doing it. For example, I met a man from Germany. His name was Charles and I called him Prince Charles so that I could remember his name. He did my experience in January. In April his wife emailed me to say that he had passed away from cancer. She said that he had a message for me. He said: ‘Tell Faldela thank you for putting a smile on my face when I was on holiday.’ For me this shows that I am doing something right. Food connects people. Guests come in here, we have fun, we cook, we laugh and we get to know each other and it’s all through food.”