Open Africa | Founder and chief executive of Open Africa | Cape Town 0
Through his organization, Open Africa, Noel is building a pan-African network of urban and rural tourism routes that are locally owned and managed, but marketed internationally. The vision behind this network is to create economic and social opportunities by harnessing the growing potential of tourism in Africa for marginalized communities. He is putting control of this potential into the hands of local communities by working with them to identify, promote, and manage their own cultural and natural assets. These efforts create new businesses, preserve cultural heritage, and foster community pride of civic cooperation and leadership in a new generation.
Noel’s model encourages marginalized local communities to form their own businesses to serve the tourism market, thereby affording them entry to a previously unreachable economic system. Through creative online marketing and industry partnerships, these enterprises are brought to a new level of quality, marketability and potential. The shared effort of developing and sustaining not just individual enterprises but linked tourist routes leads to infrastructure development, increased political participation, and links to the international community. Open Africa also creates a platform for community leaders to champion a new path of growth and development for their communities.
Everything about Africa charms, frustrates, uplifts, challenges, and mesmerizes me all at once.
For this continent and its people to occupy their proper place socially and economically in the global arena.
Noel spent his early years on his parents’ farm primarily in the company of indigenous people. This influenced him profoundly and instilled an abiding respect and love for the aboriginal culture of Africa, the spirituality of its people, and the abundance of its natural resources. Noel feels that even though his ancestors have been in Africa for more than 350 years, his deep sense of oneness with Africa is unusual for a Caucasian. This feeling is accompanied by a belief that the continent and its people should be occupying a special place in the global community, instead of being hampered by negative perceptions based on inaccuracies.
Noel has undertaken various entrepreneurial endeavors over the years, including the start-up of Avis Car Rental in Southern Africa. Inspired by challenges and “pushing the edge of the envelope”, Noel is hard-pressed to see a problem without trying to fix it. He now calls himself a recycled businessman interested primarily in development with an eye for environmental sustainability. In addition to his role with Open Africa, Noel is a member of the Board of the University of Cape Town's Centre for Marine Studies, the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, and a founding member of the Peace Parks Foundation.