Cows on the Beach – A real life story about structuring Social Ventures in Africa by Ray Dinning JD, LLM

Chasing 20 Cows off the Beach

 In June, 2009, I was asked to assist in the structure of a tourism social venture in South Africa which will primarily benefit the Xhosa Tribe along the Indian Ocean coastline.  This was a tremendously beautiful day on a pristine stretch of beach and it was the beginning of the Greatest Migration on Earth – the Great Sardine Run had begun.  So, with up to 60 kilometers of sardines schooling along the coastline, dolphins, whales, sharks, diving gannets and abundant bird life and marine life could be seen with the naked eye (we saw 30 whales breaching).

On this day, we were walking along the beach and talking with the local community about their needs and desires for this project.  The Xhosa People along the coast live in relative harmony with abundant fruit, vegetables and seafood with great weather (always about 80 degrees F or 25 degrees C).  However, there is a great need for jobs and a future for their children.  A small tourism lodge will promote job creation, teach valuable skills and feed up to 12 families (12 jobs X 5 family members per family = 60 people).  Furthermore, profits are set aside for micro enterprise loans and job creation projects that feed off of the tourism project. 

So, in a grassroots meeting we kept being interrupted by 20 cows walking down the beach with us.  If you haven’t ever seen cows on the beach, it is truly an unnatural site.  We finally chased the cows back into their grazing lands and continued on with our grassroots Board of Directors meeting.

A Board of Directors Meeting in Africa

 At the end of the day, we meet with the Tribal Leaders of the area surrounding the project.  Here, we are meeting with the Chief and the Community Trust Members of this Xhosa Community.  After a successful meeting, we ended up structuring the project using an LLC-type entity in South Africa which is owned by the developers, an NGO, the local community and the social investors.  Profits are set aside to promote education, job training and micro finance loans with the ultimate goal of creating a self-sustaining, profitable tourism social venture for the Xhosa People in South Africa.

Thanks to all.  Ray Dinning JD, LLM.  For more info or to get involved, call (757) 232-2619.

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