Christmas Night Market

On the 29th of November the Rhino Convention Centre hosted it’s first ever night market. With Christmas around the corner, we decided to lay on the carols and tinsel, and kick off the festive season in style.

As a community oriented venue, we specifically aimed the market at the local (and more loosely local) crafter community, providing an added opportunity to show off their creations and goods, as Christmas gifts, to other community members. Lowveld crafters never disappoint and we were thrilled to see truly beautiful pieces and great value besides.

For good measure we invited premium Limpopo craft brewery, Zwakala, to serve up their fine lagers and ales, with Hoedspruit band, The Brotherwood, providing the soundtrack. Tunes were sung, kegs were drained, fun was had. As we do.

In the aftermath, it seems that everybody that had a part in this successful evening would like to do it all again! So, we will kick off in January with a plan to do this more frequently and you will be the first to hear about it!

Note: The Rhino Convention Centre is closing for the festive season from today (Friday 13 December) until the 6th of January. We wish you a safe and blessed Christmas and wish you all the very best for 2020!

Eco Children Santa Shoebox

Jackals & Wolf is a hive of activity today, as Eco Children volunteers scramble to receive and process Christmas gift boxes for redistribution to previously disadvantaged communities in their Santa Shoebox drive.

If you or your business would like to contribute more boxes, volunteers are on hand until 5PM to receive your donation!

Dr. Jaco Blignaut Surgery

Dr. Jaco Blignaut has been our resident doctor at the Rhino Convention Centre for many years, and is a trusted first port-of-call for the Hoedspruit community.

As a general practitioner, Dr. Jaco  offers effective and rapid diagnosis and prescriptions, treatment or referrals for the whole family.

As occupational therapist, Dr. Jaco is the go-to for industry related conditions, such as hearing impairment, chemical exposure and other workplace specific injuries.

Dr. Jaco’s practice is renowned for its care and efficiency. Open from 8am to 5pm for walk-in consultations (Mon-Fri) or call (015) 7931894 for an appointment.

Education for Sustainable Development

On the 6th of September, the Rhino Convention Centre hosted the Kruger-to-Canyon (K2C) Biosphere’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Conference. The conference brought together a great number of regional education stakeholders, with the purpose of learning from each other and exploring synergies.

Presenter Vusi Tshabalala, K2C’s director for ESD development, brought everyone up to speed with K2Cs ESD activities and motivations and introduced the Environmental Monitors (EMs or “Maebas”) that are the limbs of the enterprise in the field. The EMs, predominantly young people from previously disadvantaged communities, play a vital role in monitoring the environment in their locales. Beyond this, they play a key role in supporting schools and teachers in environmental education and communicating environmental values to their peers. The data that they collect, which K2C offers freely, is a valuable resource for other stakeholders, which includes the leadership of their communities. In one instance, EMs uncovered incidences of illegal and destructive sand mining, and brought this to the attention of the community leaders. The data obtained brought home the scope of the issue and empowered the community to halt the perpetrators.

“Our Sand”/”Santa Ya Rena” is a documentary film made by the EMs to communicate the sand issue to their respective communities. EMs have also been instrumental in identifying alien invader plants, inhibiting the spread of destructive fauna into the KNP and addressing human-animal conflict situations, among others.

Technology is playing a vital role in connecting EMs to each other, to data infrastructure and to other programme participants. With fairly accurate geolocation, facility for file sharing and ubiquitous diffusion, WhatsApp has become a powerful tool for EMs. The collated data gathered via the app becomes a trove of valuable information that allows conservationists and communities to pin-point areas of interest. It has also been suggested that the broader ESD forum should contemplate a similar scheme in order to contribute.

The informative and entertaining presentation led to a vibrant discussion about collaboration, synchronisation of efforts and the potential for new approaches to the subject. “Why kids?” was a question that rang like a bell, in that education is not exclusively for the young, and it is adults that make the economic decisions that lead to environmental infractions today.

The conference was marked by a high degree of energetic interaction, a willingness to participate, and a willingness to embrace new ideas. It is always heartening to be reminded that there is a large, diverse and motivated group of people that are actively driving the conservation message home.

Ciao Bella! Say ‘hello’ to beautiful food!

The Rhino Convention Centre takes great pleasure in welcoming its new tenant, Ciao Bella delicatessen!

Ciao Bella is your first port of call for local and imported gourmet food and baking ingredients. Olives, pomodoro, polenta, couscous and a host of other yummy goodies jostle for space on Ciao Bella’s shelves. Warning: You may as well ditch the shopping list, because you are sure to find items that you didn’t think would be available in Hoedspruit!

Ciao Bella is also a mecca for professional and craft bakers, stocking specialist decorations, ingredients and other products to add that special touch – including the actual cherry on top.

With friendly and knowledgeable staff in-store, you can be sure to request items that you need and expect Ciao Bella to source only the finest.

In bocca al lupo, Ciao Bella! May your flavours fill many hearts with joy.

Medical Services at the Rhino Convention Centre

The Rhino Convention Centre is proud to provide retail space to a number of medical service providers. Joining Dr. Jaco Blignaut, who has been with us for quite some time, we have two new tenants that specialise in the medical field

Armi provides general X-Ray radiology, medical imaging and mammogram screenings. Now patients can get rapid results for tests that were previously only available outside of town, get a faster and more accurate diagnosis, and ultimately heal faster.

Armi for X-Ray radiology, medical imaging and mammogram screenings

Ampath Pathologists provide a pathological blood testing service that assists in the diagnosis of various conditions. It is heartening to know that patients can receive fast and accurate malaria tests, especially at the start of the malaria season in this region.

Ampath tests blood specimens for a variety of conditions, including malaria

We are pleased to provide a base for these great service providers in our ongoing effort to serve the local community in new ways!

Towel Folding Art Course

The Rhino Convention Centre played host to a towel folding art course, presented by Sam Hospitality Training and Consulting. Samkeliso Nkwanyane showed eager participants a range of new ways to dress up towels to impress guests!

Positive Purchasing Workshop at the White Rhino

On Thursday the 29th of July, the Rhino Convention Centre hosted a Positive Purchasing workshop as a part of the fRfR (From the Region, For the Region) campaign. The fRfR initiative is collaboratively driven by the Kruger-to-Canyon Biosphere (K2C) non-profit company, Activating Africa and other partners, and its aim is to stimulate intra-regional trade towards greater economic and environmental sustainability in this very special and sensitive region.

Positive Purchasing, in the context of this workshop, is when regional retailers, restaurants and lodges opt to buy their products and services from locally based suppliers. This focus, when effectively managed, holds immense potential for the economic empowerment of local businesses, farmers and service SMMEs, according to a study that was part-funded by the Flanders Government and led to the establishment of the campaign. The fRfR campaign, and this workshop, is a discussion around the issues, solutions and implementation of strategies to integrate the regional supply chain. 

Facilitated by Candice Grover (Activating Africa) and Mike Grover (Conservation SA), the workshop introduced the various stakeholders to a larger attendant community of local businesses, SMMEs, NGOs and nature reserves before delving into some of the perceptions, hurdles and solutions that frame this vital discussion.

Cindy Koen elaborated on the role of K2C in the initiative and how localised supply chain efficiencies play a part in the sustainable conservation of biodiversity in the region. The GLTFCA Cooperative Agreement emphasises that conservation risks are largely socio-economic in nature, and fRfR postulates that our human purchasing habits have the potential for danger or promise in this arena, depending on the choices that we make. It is for this reason that K2C has joined with its partners in the initiative in order to establish a framework and toolset that enables local producers to access the market. A database of potential inputs, mediators/distributors and end users help to create linkages between the local tourism, commercial and agricultural sectors. 

This database identifies 173 SMMEs (producers) across the region that are ready to trade (i.e. registered and compliant) with 15 large scale distributors/retailers and 596 end users (BnBs, lodges, restaurants). The next step in the journey is plotting all of the above into an interactive GIS resource for easy reference and deeper analysis.

Anna Lemmer, of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) shed light on the organisation’s Fair Trade Tourism certification system which includes consideration for sustainable procurement and supply chain justice. The WFTO defines responsible procurement/sourcing as a process whereby environmental, social and ethical considerations are taken into account, for the entire life cycle of the product or service. To this end the organisation encourages procurement from local sources at fair value. Anna reports that nearly 3 out of 4 travellers prefer sustainable options when choosing their vacations, and a true sense of the place and people is an important element of any tourism experience.

The workshop introduced M4JAM, a potential solution for supply chain integration in the area. M4JAM is a micro-task technology platform that provides an ecosystem for 200 000 “jobbers”, that earn money by performing tasks for M4JAM clients. The platform holds promise as an intermediary between formal clients and emerging producers by engaging, evaluating and enhancing these linkages. 

Mike Grover demonstrated the practical challenges of an organic supply chain with an al fresco exercise that saw producers struggling to reach distributors, who in turn had their own obstacles in reaching the end user. These challenges are analogous to those faced when establishing effective localised supply chains, but with much higher capital stakes, more variables and more components.

With a heightened sense of the gravity of the topic, the participants were then asked to candidly express the obstacles that they face – either in selling or buying locally. It became clear that there are a number of key categories that need attention, and a degree of overlap among different categories of stakeholders.

In conclusion, the Positive Purchasing workshop was a very informative and interactive event, wherein we see the wonderful potential of a community that is working in unison towards shared goals. The fRfR campaign is an ongoing initiative that continues to shape the socio-economic landscape of the Kruger-to-Canyon Biosphere region and that warrants all the support it can get.   

Ahhhh…. Freeworld Coffeeworks

Nothing in Hoedspruit says “Good Morning!” better than the aroma of freshly roasted and ground coffee emanating from Freeworld Coffeeworks.

Freeworld Coffeeworks has been brewing your favourite cuppa for the past 4 years, earning HQ privileges among Hoedspruit’s army of café aficionados. Every weekday morning the loyal legion lines up in single file behind owner (and Presidente de por Vida) Michau Van Gass’ gleaming espresso machine for caffeination and strat. Each and every paper cup is the proverbial field marshall’s baton, pure carpe diem in liquid form. And topped with foam if you like.

El Presidente Michau Van Gass

That Freeworld Coffeeworks has engendered such loyalty among the locals, tells us at least one thing for certain – the coffee is amazing. We may look to other mysterious and magical workings of the barista-in-chief for this success, but it is clear that hard won knowledge forms the base. Michau carefully selects the best beans from the best suppliers, roasting them to perfection and grinding them as close to service as possible. The tuned espresso machine in consort with his watchful eye deliver the coup de grâce – a steaming cup brimming with unsurpassable flavour – chop-chop.

You can also get your Joe on-the-go. Freeworld Coffeworks is a coffee wholesaler, so you can bag the magic and make it your own way.

Inside the café, couches invite moments of quiet reverie, where visions take shape and plans may form. The shaded porch offers a large communal table for spontaneous chats and trade in scuttlebutt. The espresso counter is for the die-hards: you know who you are. Regardless, wherever you find yourself at Freeworld Coffeeworks, you find yourself. And the flavour finds you.

Welcome to the Big 5 Mediterranean Barber!

We are happy to welcome our new tenant, the Big 5 Mediterranean Barber, to the Rhino Convention Centre. The Big 5 Mediterranean Barber offers you smart service, attention to detail and quality men’s grooming products in a spacious and pleasant location (if we say so ourselves). Tame your mane and get the wire out of your barbe today!