A few years ago Barbara Raats developed an idea to build grass huts (similar to that of the San traditional homes) and offer homestays to tourists. Her idea received a boost when Open Africa launched a programme along the Kalahari Red Dune Route in 2013. In less than two years, Barbara was able to open her business and she now offers accommodation for up-to 8 people and has plans to build another two units to further increase her capacity.
With funding from the Finnish Embassy Barbara became one of four female mentees along the route. Each mentee was assigned a mentor with the aim of gaining skills in business management, learning more about the tourism industry and further developing their small business. This support allowed Barbara the opportunity to gain the confidence needed to approach business and other NGOs to secure growth funding for her business.
In June 2014, Barbara welcomed her first clients to Boesmansrus Grass Huts on a trial basis with support from her supervisor on the Route Forum. Over the course of 2014 she received basic computer literacy training and business management training. The route will continue to provide support to Barbara while she expands and develops her business further throughout 2015. She plans to build another large hut that will sleep four guests as well as a Honeymoon suite, which will provide en-suite facilities.
In less than two years, Barbara was able to open her business and she now offers accommodation for up to 8 people and has plans to build another two units to further increase her capacity.