PIONEERING CONSERVATION AND HOSPITALITY IN BOTSWANA SINCE 1983
Wilderness is a world-leading conservation and hospitality company proudly founded in Botswana in 1983. Known as Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS) in Botswana, the company is dedicated to the conservation of the breathtaking biodiversity of the Okavango Delta, Linyanti Wildlife Reserve and Central Kalahari Game Reserve, while empowering local communities at the same time. Beyond the countless life-changing experiences it offers guests, OWS continues to have a significant and meaningful positive impact on the local and national economy.
“Botswana is a must-see spectacle and OWS has been fortunate to have a presence in the best and most exclusive wilderness areas. The location of our camps in the country’s prolific wildlife places offers an experience that we’re constantly looking to improve, in our quest to provide our guests with life-changing journeys. This enables us to create value for our stakeholders and surrounding communities, as well as to continue investing in biodiversity conservation projects that contribute to the protection of these important wild areas”, noted OWS Board Chairman, Kabelo Binns.
Facts about the broader Wilderness Group (Wilderness Holdings):
· Today, this proudly Botswana born business operates in eight African states and owns and operates over 60 camps and lodges (22 in Botswana; 38 in the rest of Africa), employing 3000 staff.
Facts about Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS):
· OWS is the Botswana operating business of Wilderness Holdings and is domiciled and headquartered in Botswana
· Established in 1983, OWS celebrates 40 years of luxury ecotourism in Botswana
· Employs around 1,000 people in Botswana alone.
· Markets and operates a combined property portfolio of 22 camps in Botswana
· OWS has always recognised and promoted the great importance of the Tourism sector for the economic benefits that come from sustainable non consumptive use of the great flora and fauna over vast areas, including the Okavango, Chobe, Linyanti and Central Kalahari
· Aligned to supporting Government’s Reset Agenda, this is believed to be one of the most effective ways to achieve the National Vision 2036
· Continued sustainable impact in 3 primary areas: Conservation, Education and Citizen Empowerment:
* Holds leases over 272 000 hectares across Botswana.
* OWS incurred lease rentals and resource royalties expenses of P31.9 million in FY2020 (pre-COVID year), P14.3 million in FY2021 (COVID year) and P21.1 million in FY2022 (another COVID year).
* Beyond this, OWS is involved in research and conservation, working to ensure the world better understands how to conserve these wilderness areas.
* OWS is renowned locally for being “trainers” for the sector, through its own BQA accredited programmes and continuous on the job training and development.
* 96% of staff are citizens, including part of the EXCO, as increasingly more Batswana take up leadership roles in Botswana and further afield.
* OWS’ strategy will remain one that seeks to ensure international flavour and experience constantly mix with the beautiful Tswana culture and our approach to hospitality, also opening up opportunities in other markets for Batswana to get international experience – Zambia, Namibia and Rwanda, so far.
* To further augment its ability to identify and develop talent, OWS has recently launched a programme called “Dinaledi” to identify future leaders. Customised programmes will be developed for this talent to fast track their path up the leadership ladder. In just the last 12 months, OWS has awarded six citizen employee scholarships from MBAs to Specialist Programmes in Strategy and Project Management. Graduates of this programme are the future leaders of OWS, and likely future contributors to the hospitality and conservation narrative of Botswana.
* Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is a non-profit programme that celebrated 20 years of operation in 2022. Pre-Covid, CITW Botswana had over 2,000 children from communities across the region participating in its conservation and leadership programmes, which aim to educate and encourage the next generation of conservation warriors. It is intended that CITW will return to pre-Covid levels by the end of 2023.
* 83% of all OWS’ purchases of goods and services are from local suppliers. OWS works to support the entire value chain of the industry where possible, including at all of its 22 camps, as well as its offices in Maun and Gaborone.
* In a non-COVID year, that figure was around P191 million (being 80% of total purchases). During the pandemic years, the same number was P86milion (92% of total purchases) and P96m (89% of total purchases) for FY2021 and FY2022 respectively. The number is much higher when there are ongoing CapEx projects.
* OWS is proud of its historical contribution and unwavering in its commitment to supporting local businesses, organisations and communities.
* Driving more sustainable impact and working to play a more meaningful role in all the communities that OWS works in:
· Over the past two years, OWS donated 7.5 tonnes of seed to communities to ensure they were able to plough and farm their lands, helping to secure better local food sustainability.
· Donated over 9,000 food parcels to needy families during COVID. OWS carried all the cost of distributing the 346 tonnes of food across Northern Botswana right down to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and even Gaborone on one occasion.
· Finalising the establishment of a vegetable farm to help secure fresh vegetables for its camps, to impart skills and best practice that helps enhance the technical abilities of farmers in the area. Wilderness guests expect the very best and freshest produce, and OWS plans to deliver that to them right from here in Botswana – this is empowerment in action. OWS will hire and train community members to bring this farm to life.
· Drilling six boreholes in and around the Okavango Community Trust areas to help reduce human-wildlife conflict and save lives.
· Procured sustainable agricultural implements for farmers in Eretsha and Sankoyo, and on a yearly basis, OWS tractors assist farmers in these areas to plough their fields.
· Constructing a block of classrooms, ablution facilities, connecting water in the school and fencing school premises at Eretsha Primary School.
· Revenue and taxes: OWS’ contribution to total Government revenue through taxes as a single company is estimated to be approximately 0.5% of total Government revenue.
“Okavango Wilderness Safaris is proud to call Botswana home, and unwavering in our commitment to create shared value for this home. We have a deliberate drive to participate in other geographic areas of Botswana too. After all, conservation must happen everywhere, and Batswana need support Nationwide. You can expect to see more of us across Botswana in the future, as we work to ensure even more engagement and impact in line with our strategy and our commitment to sustainable progress”, concluded OWS MD, Kim Nixon.