Spier Hotel and Wine Farm in Stellenbosch won gold in the Responsible Business category at the 2020 Inspirational Africa Responsible Tourism Awards.

In this category, the judges look for companies which make tourism better across their entire business, and where a range of issues are addressed, and many of which are replicable by other companies. While some of their initiatives may appear small scale, cumulatively they make a big difference.

“In this category, the judges look for companies which make tourism better across their entire business.”

The judges recognised Spier’s commitment to doing good through several projects which promote both social and environmental benefits. The judges also noted “the transparent reporting and the breadth of their approach to improving the employment conditions of their staff ranging from addressing the issue of safety on public transport to their provision of Individual Learning Spend budgets to support the development of skills and knowledge, for personal development and innovation for the employee and their family for example by using it to pay school fees.”

Examples of these projects include:

  • Learning Spend, where each employee receives money to spend on their personal development. The stipend can be spent on anything that will empower their staff with skills and knowledge, boost health and wellbeing, foster financial wellness or enhance self-awareness and self-knowledge. Some staff members use this money to help pay for their children’s school fees.

“The stipend can be spent on anything that will empower their staff with skills and knowledge, boost health and wellbeing, foster financial wellness or enhance self-awareness and self-knowledge.”

  • Tree-preneurs, who range in age from 5 to 93, are drawn from some of the Cape’s poorest communities and have been taught how to care for indigenous trees and plants. They are given seedlings to nurture; once these have reached 30cm, they are exchanged for vouchers for food, clothing, agricultural goods, tools, bicycles and educational support. Initially established in KwaZulu-Natal by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, the programme now operates in 24 communities across South Africa. Spier launched the programme in Western Cape with land on the farm, free electricity and water, and the support of Lesley Joemat, a Spier employee. Tree-preneurs at Spier are now celebrating their tenth year, and they have contributed to improving the lives of 259 Tree-preneurs in 12 communities through bartering trees. They have grown 990,709 trees which have been donated to schools, NGOs, churches and rehabilitation programmes.

“Tree-preneurs at Spier are now celebrating their tenth year, and they have contributed to improving the lives of 259 Tree-preneurs in 12 communities through bartering trees. They have grown 990,709 trees which have been donated to schools, NGOs, churches and rehabilitation programmes.”

  • Spier supports the primary school in Lynedoch Eco-village, by sponsoring a multidisciplinary team of Community Keepers who offer psychological and social services such as counselling, therapy, assessments, as well as life skills programmes and parenting workshops.
  • Each year 30 ceramic apprentices join the Spier Arts Academy on a three-year programme. The Creative Block project invites established and emerging artists to transform blocks in any medium they choose. The best pieces are purchased immediately for resale at R1500 each, enabling the artists to earn an immediate income and to break out into new artistic territories and markets.
  • Spier recruits entry-level staff through Harambee, an initiative which sources, trains and places unemployed young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into their first jobs.
  • Every new employee participates in a five-day training course to explore environmental and social challenges, encouraging them to play a positive and meaningful impact as ‘agents of change’.

“Spier currently pays 40% above the minimum wage for hourly earners and 55% above the minimum wage for full-time earners.”

  • Spier currently pays 40% above the minimum wage for hourly earners and 55% above the minimum wage for full-time earners. The staff retention rate is 77%.
  • They encourage visitors and guests to pack for a purpose proving information about what is needed.
  • Spier recycles 97% of their solid waste, 100% of organic waste and 100% of grey- and black-water.

You can read about the awards and meet the other winners on the Responsbile Tourism Parnership website.