Member interview: Coffee Shack
Coffee Shack will show travellers a different way of life when they come and visit the friendly hostel located on a remote beach on the Eastern coast of South Africa.
We spoke to Coffee Shack Director David Malherbe to find out more about the organisation and its focus on helping the communities in the surrounding area.
Tell us your story. How did your business get started?
Essentially I was doing nothing at the time, I did not have a job, and was just having fun doing very little, occasionally helping my business partners Dan and Andre; I was a very silent partner. I had spent 18 months working in the surf industry in South Africa, after having enjoyed 10 years of surfing and travelling around the world. The Coffee Shack location became available, we were given 2 days to make a decision as to whether we were going start a hostel in the middle of the nowhere or not. Next thing I was off to live in Coffee Bay, to do lots of renovating, painting and cleaning on a tiny budget and we opened 3 weeks later. The rest has been lots of fun and of course hard work.
What are your unique selling points? What makes you different?
I think we have a few, one is an absolutely idyllic location on the beach at a tiny river mouth, on one of the most beautiful and unique sections of coastline in the world, the Wild Coast.
Our products and services are exceptional value for money, particularly when considering the logistical challenges we face, for instance our two hour surf lessons are still only R50 (USD 4), including equipment and excellent instructors. We are a Fair Trade certified hostel that takes responsibility for the environment it works in and it’s community, and we are privileged to have the local Tshezi Community as partners and 30% shareholders in the Coffee Shack.
What are some of your success stories?
First and foremost is our partnership with our community, and the various programmes we manage, most notably the Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori Nursery school (Early Learning Centre), which is providing a world class foundation phase education to 60 children between 3 and 6 years old. Incredibly enough I have come to the realisation that Coffee Shack has probably benefited more from the good will and other advantages of investing in ones community than the actual community have benefited, to the point that I almost feel guilty, we don’t give to get back.
Lastly, we are very proud of the fact that we have managed to lure so many travellers so far off the beaten track, to come and enjoy Coffee Shack, and believe that we have been an important factor in making the Wild Coast a serious backpacker stop/ destination, despite all the logistical challenges of operating in a remote rural area.
I think that we can still do a lot more to improve the lives of staff and communities living in the area… and I hope to try and work less and go surfing more.
Current global economic conditions are being aggravated by the higher than normal levels of volatility in the world (and vice versa), which I believe are being caused by the growing gap between those people who “have” and the “have nots”, who are still living incredibly difficult and marginalised lives. This is an issue that is likely to affect more than just travelling and money.
What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
To attend WYSTC, particularly because it is in South Africa, we do not get this opportunity often. And I encourage all the other members of WYSETC to make this trip of a lifetime and come and see us in Cape Town. I also highly recommend trying to make a little extra time to get out and see South Africa, it is one of the most unique and diverse countries in the world – culturally, scenically and wild life wise. With the current exchange rates all visitors are absolute winners!
Any top tips for people starting out in the youth travel sector?
Have fun and make sure you take advantage of being in such a fun industry, get to meet your clients/guests, they are incredible people. It is a sector that allows you to dictate how you manage and run things, so you can avoid the grind of corporate life, if you want to.
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