What started as a group of friends hiking morphed into a platform to bring locals and outsiders together.
“The aim is to expose people to environments that they may not be accustomed to and to encourage them to challenge themselves. When you hike, as in life, you think a mountain is bigger than you until you climb it. As Nelson Mandela famously said: ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’,” says the duo.
Sekwele is an Accounting graduate from Wits University and is currently completing an Executive MBA in Europe. She is a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow of Young African Leaders. Sosibo is a University of KwaZulu-Natal Bcom graduate having double-majored in business management and marketing. She currently has a career in radio broadcasting.
“Hiking is a great metaphor for life which young people can apply, especially as they transition from matric to tertiary education,” says Sekwele and Sosibo. “Hiking forces you to build a level of resistance and teaches the importance of perspective. While you are on the trail, it is pain and torture but at the summit or the end of the day, it is pride and reward. There are also great physical benefits and hiking is cost effective.”
Bantu Hikers aims to connect young professionals with matriculants from previously disadvantaged schools to provide career guidance and mentorship. The approach of programme is one of positive disruption where professionals aim to guide students outside of the classroom or their desired profession.
The organisation leads at least one hike each month and holds quarterly mentorship workshops that focus on skills building for mentees. The mentor panel is made up of a base of 20 professionals from across the city.
Student workshops take place on the beach or in a garden and mentorship sessions happen on a mountain. “We also have ongoing chat groups with the mentees where we share information and answer questions. We can also be accessed for guidance at any time. Mentorship is no longer a nice to have but rather an integral part of growth,” say the co-founders.
“We are currently putting in place mechanisms to allow us to efficiently and effectively track membership,” says the pair. “The reception has been positive. There are a lot of young people who want to give back and be proactive in the change we need.”
The co-founders are currently looking for ways to create revenue streams to make Bantu Hikers a sustainable organisation beyond donor funds.
“We would like to expand this model across the country, then across the continent and ultimately the globe at large! Our plan is to promote local and international travel and encourage students to learn through experiences and exposure. In the long-term we would like to build a foundation that can provide scholarships for our mentees,” they say.
What advice do they have for aspiring young people? “There is value in doing good. It’s important to combine your skillset and your passion. And most importantly, your dream is valid!”