Lebo Malepa

Founder: Lebo's Soweto Backpackers

When he was 19 and unemployed Lebo Malepa would watch tourists being bused in and out of Hector Pieterson Museum and wonder why people would want to experience culture from behind a glass barrier instead of smelling, tasting and experiencing it for themselves. It was this idea, coupled with his passion for his home town, that first got tourists out of their minivans and into his grandmother's house for a taste of the real Soweto. In 2003 Malepa opened Soweto's first backpackers and started involving locals in all aspects of his business, from walking tours and music evenings to the laundry service. He also offers work experience to local youths who are interested in the tourism industry. Malepa may have won many awards for his innovative thinking and localised approach and even put his corner of Orlando West on the Lonely Planet map but he knows that hospitality is a community effort and empowerment is the ultimate reward. � Cat Pritchard

Website: sowetobackpackers.com