The Unearthed Community Leaders Program, catalysed by funding from the Kenchaan Foundation since 2019 has been focused on creating socio-economic opportunities in rural areas adjacent to protected areas. Creating employment opportunities and viable income streams through socially conscious small businesses alongside instilling a sense of wonder and understanding of nature through a structured Wilderness Trail experience has underpinned our approach to ensuring this project delivers environmental outcomes as well as creating economic value in these rural areas where youth unemployment is often well above 50%
“BUSINESS FOR ME USED TO BE JUST A WAY I COULD SUPPORT MY FAMILY ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS AND PUT BREAD ON THE TABLE. I HAD NO UNDERSTANDING OF BUDGETING, SAVING OR PROFITS. BUT I AM HAPPY TO SAY, THIS MONTH WAS THE FIRST MONTH I HAVE MONEY LEFT OVER, I ACTUALLY MADE A PROFIT. I AM PLANNING, MANAGING MY STOCK AND I'M FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE NOT JUST TODAY” ~ Sibusiso Zulu, Ghebezi Chickens
At it’s most basic level Unearthed is about inspiring young individuals who want to start a social enterprise, a business that does more than just make money, people who want to help others, who want to make our planet a better place in their own small way, people who follow a bigger calling. Our focus is around actualising the Global Sustainable Development Goals and building future environmental leaders who can help create new, innovative solutions to current challenges. The Wilderness Trail experience with the Wilderness Leadership School kick starts this journey for many of our community leader program participants, this introduces and opens up conservation thinking as well as an opportunity to dream big, get a sense of self and focus on their futures. The Unearthed Community Leaders Program supports participants further on the journey down the road to entrepreneurship.
However, when it comes to impacts, it almost always comes in a form we do not expect, the video clip above explains the sort of impact these programs have on young people living alongside our protected areas and reinforces our approach of "helping people along the right path" without a set of pre-conceived outcomes.
“THE TRAIL TAUGHT ME A BIG LIFE LESSON, I HAD TO LEARN WHO I AM BEFORE I COULD MOVE FORWARD. UNEARTHED HAS TAUGHT ME A LOT BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY IT HAS TAUGHT ME THAT I CAN’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO CHANGE MY LIFE. I NEED TO DO IT MYSELF. RUNNING A BUSINESS IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN I EXPECTED, BUT I AM DETERMINED TO SOLDIER ON. YOU MAY NOT SEE IT ON THE OUTSIDE BUT I AM NOW A DIFFERENT PERSON AND I HAVE THE MENTAL STRENGTH TO MAKE THIS WORK.” ~ Scelo Hlabisa, Mbopa Arts
You can also download a copy of our participants report here