Thiofhi Ravele

Business development manager, Fair Trade Tourism

A degree in hospitality from the University of Johannesburg was Thiofhi waha Ravele’s first step into a career in the tourism industry. Soon after, she was appointed general manager of a lodge outside of Kruger National Park at the tender age of 25.

His passion for local community development in South Africa saw his next career move into sustainable development as part of the Open Africa team, and his positive impacts on sustainable growth and development in South Africa led to his appointment as operations manager at the organisation.

After six years at Open Africa Ravele moved on to take up the post of business development manager for Fair Trade Tourism — a leading sustainable tourism development non-profit organisation. At Fair Trade Tourism he worked with established and emerging tourism businesses in South Africa and Southern and East Africa, helping them to create decent work and positive social, environmental and economic impacts that benefit the communities in the areas where they operate.

“Travelling around different parts of the country and the continent, I have had the opportunity to explore and further develop both my interest in the Southern and East African regions’ history, as well as the challenges that different communities face,” he says. “I have a particular and passionate interest in identifying ways to boost skills development in order to support the creation and establishment of sustainable job opportunities with a special focus, but not limited to historically disadvantaged communities.”

Ravele is currently working to support the development of sustainable projects in areas of Limpopo Province to address unemployment, poverty and associated community development issues.

“My approach to community development work starts with consultations with local chiefs and traditional leaders to identify their needs and challenges,” he says. “We then make use of local cultural, natural and other such resources, supported by external funding, to create sustainable solutions for their particular challenges.”

Not satisfied with supporting sustainable job creation in his day job, Ravele has established a confectionary business with his mother that has already created jobs for four people and has recently launched a homemade chilli sauce into the market. He is also in the process of establishing his own nongovernmental organisation that will focus on youth development. — Kerry Haggard

Twitter: @Thiofhir