Our passionate curiosity about other cultures led us to Africa. We quickly realised that our image of Africa was not entirely accurate. We were angry with ourselves. Why does a continent attract so much biased attention? Why has the West been fooled? Certainly, there is poverty, but there is also something else: Hope, passion and ambition, and a strong sense of connection and belonging between people.
While the West struggles with the global Financial crisis, Africa is now looming large on the horizon. Many growth economies are on the African continent. How can this be happening only now, when the World is in turmoil?
At that time, we were able to experience Africa’s strength and resilience not only in international business, but also in building valuable friendships through hospitality. Even in conversations with taxi drivers, we discovered quite another Africa than that previously been promised to us. We had so many questions… It influenced our work, our life and our humanity. But more than that: it showed the real poverty of the Western World.
To enable our knowledge and experiences to have more significance both for the continent and for ourselves, we started a business: GreenDreamCompany. The company focuses on developing tourism industry in emerging African markets.
Why tourism industry?
Tourism industry is responsible for most of the gross national product of these countries. It’s the first sector that opens the window to the World and it creates a wind of change. Not only in capital, but also in rural areas. It generates many jobs, skilled and unskilled , it makes people able to look with different eyes, being proud on their environment. And , so important, reinforces a climate of positive image. Moreover, this sector is in its infancy , it could use some helping hands. So it was a logical step.
Why Real Estate?
For all intents and purposes, the African continent is the ‘last frontier’ with all differences, but all have one thing in common and that is the need to ensure they meet the demands of its citizens, half of the total population on the continent being younger than the age of 30. When the African middle class is a fact, a lot of African countries are reaching that point at 2020, this citizens will be having families, in demand of a lot of needs, also vacations and all kinds of entertainment every family would dream of.
The challenge of GreenDreamCompany
About 8 years ago we both had our own successfully companies. Leon on real estate development, and me, Leontine on inter-cultural management, managing diversity and integrity. Toghether we set up GreenDreamCompany that leads us to discover hidden treasures in Africa.
The Solomons Hidden Treasures Project
The challenge GreenDreamCompany has taken is focussed on positive impact, a business approach, with head, hands and from the heart. Therefore an area approach and a system per country has been introduced. Not only by creating a brand on sustainable family villages organising local supply and value chains and training the local people by its GreenDreamAcademy. But also by combining a diversity on entertainment, recreational harbours, cultural experience parks.
Bringing it all into a scalable system of a brand, means that it’s not only interesting and recognizable for families and other guest , but also for investors, governments etc.
The First ten Solomon’s Hidden Treasures to rest, meet, play, experience, feel safe, having life changing experiences, will arise in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Both stable countries who will be having achieved a middle class society by 2020.
Leontine van Hooft
Léon van Rijckevorsel