At Wolwedans, balance applies both to work | life balance for our team, as well balance in our business financial model.
Creating a harmonious work | life balance is essential for physical, emotional, and mental health. Achieving this balance results in less stress, a lower risk of burnout, and a sense of general well-being. This not only benefits employees but employers, too. All members of the Wolwedans team are, therefore, given the opportunity to have a balance between work and their own, personal lives. Sufficient off-time is only part of this equation, while the other part entails supporting the pursuit of other dreams and aspirations, whether they are creative passions or growing skills to pursue careers in parallel with tourism. The 5Cs framework makes sure that Wolwedans provides this work | life balance in a structured way so that it remains a priority in our daily pursuits.
On the business side, Wolwedans also seeks to maintain ‘business in balance’, which for us primarily addresses a financial model where profit should equal funds generated by the business for its Foundation ‘to do good’. This results in a 50 | 50 balance whereby net profit after tax equals net income for the Foundation (derived from guest levies collected). This excludes conservation levies, which are collected on behalf of the nature reserve and have been part of the package from the start to provide the reserve with a steady income over the years. Conservation levies collected from Wolwedans guests, to date, exceed 27 million Namibian Dollars, contributing markedly to maintaining biodiversity and conserving the arid wildlands of NamibRand.
In 2017 – striving to make the Wolwedans Foundation financially sustainable and afford it a greater level of independence – a “Foundation Levy” was introduced in addition to the NamibRand Conservation Levy (or park fee as it was called back then). It was an amount equal to the Conservation Levy, which every guest had been happy to pay. These combined levies where charged over and above the lodging rate and listed separately on rate sheets and invoices. Importantly, the levies were non-commissionable to the travel-trade as the supply chain takes an average commission of 25-30% on the standard rate.
In 2018, seeing that neither guests nor agents seemed to take issue with the new 2017 levies being charged for a good cause, Wolwedans felt encouraged to push the envelope a bit more by loading the levy whilst maintaining lodging rates at the same level from 2018 to 2019. Effectively, this shifted the profit to benefit activities ‘doing good’ while the total price paid increased by only 5%. These combined levies were referred to as “Sustainability Levies” with one third channelled directly to the Nature Reserve, one third flowing into community projects via the Desert Academy, and the remaining third spent under Culture and general Foundation expenses.
Today the levies make up from 10 - 15% of the guest bill, depending where one stays. The result of making every guest a ‘donor’ to the mission has been nothing short of extraordinary. Funds collected for doing good amounted to 6.23 million Namibian Dollars in 2019, doubling the commercial entity's net profit after tax.