The Desert Based Economy applies as much to the surrounding area as it does to the our own team. Empowering members of the Wolwedans team to take charge of their own destiny and pursue personal dreams and career aspirations creates resilience. It provides another potential financial ‘leg’ to stand on so that consistent tourist arrivals are not the sole source for livelihood security.
Commercial entities to be co-developed with our team members through the DBE will focus on facilities on offer at the Village, including the Entrepreneur & Creativity Centre. Pursuits could range from services to handicraft or food production (e.g. Team Takeaway), guided guest activities (e.g. e-biking, horseback riding), retail (e.g. a tuck shop) and might even ‘incubate’ a Village Hair Salon. Each will function as an independent profit center, driven by interested members of the team – entrepreneurs nurtured in-house.
Importantly, many entrepreneurial pursuits will be transferable to other contexts, offering the potential to be taken beyond Wolwedans where they can provide additional career opportunities. Our team members can take these co-created opportunities to the various corners of Namibia, building stronger local economies based on Namibian spirit, innovation, and collaboration.
This entrepreneurial support for Wolwedans team members will work interdependently with the SME Development and EconoMix initiatives of The AridEden Project so that people have a second leg to stand on and the requisite expertise/ skills, basic economic and financial intelligence, and perhaps the beginnings of established markets to turn to in future.
The Wolwedans “DD” (DesertDollar – Wolwedans “DiDi”)
An economy needs a currency (e.g. to pay the hairdresser or pay for lunch). One could use Namibian Dollars, but real cash (and too much of it in circulation) brings with it a whole set of challenges like theft, safekeeping, and disputes. We want to keep things simple so that people can focus on their entrepreneurial endeavours and still be rewarded for them, without the down-side that comes with cash.
A fun alternative that we are deliberating is to introduce a Wolwedans ‘currency’ – the DesertDollar, or “DD” – in the form of chips (1/5/10/20 & 50). They would be worthless outside of Wolwedans but may be used to buy and sell within the Wolwedans Village at its suite of DBE offerings. “Starter” chips worth 1,000 could form part of a basic package to kick-start local spending and trade. Chips could also be ‘banked’ (converted to cash) when team members go on leave, for example.