The medium-sized entrepreneur Severin Schulte in an interview on Kenyan environmental awareness, the training of qualified employees - and the question of what economic benefits brings sustainability.
Inspired by the adventurous stories of Belgian hunting friends, the entrepreneur Rudolf Schulte sen., Head of SEVERIN Elektrogeräte GmbH and his family 1968 undertook the first big game safari to Kenya. 1972 opened the Severin Sea Lodge near Mombasa. But after a few years, the investment threatens to become a depreciation object. A hotel professional advised either for sale or for expansion. Rudolf Schulte sen buys together with his partners. the neighboring property and builds the lodge to an economically meaningful hotel size with 200 rooms. 1979, the SeRudo Reise GmbH was founded, which was later renamed Severin Touristik GmbH. Severin and his brother Rudolf Schulte Jr. are also two of six founding shareholders of the German Air Berlin GmbH and Co. Luftverkehrs KG. 2001 Severin Schulte opened the Severin Safari Camp in Tsavo West National Park - not far from the house of Denys Finch Hatton, the lover of Karen Blixen, whom she immortalized in Out of Africa
Mr Schulte, the first part of the interview was about sustainable tourism. Is ecology an economic factor in Kenya?
Of course we have received a lot of environmental awards and it is certainly good for the image. Even though we'd rather uphold ecological standards than build 150 beds, you can not ask for more money just because you're doing something for the environment. The guests feel the commitment much more.
The fruit we serve, for example, is grown biologically on our own farm. And the guests at the Safari Camp are supposed to feel very close to nature, so the camp is not even fenced. We have many regular guests - no longer just from Germany, but from the Kenyan middle class.
As a tour operator, they also provide accommodation that is Kenyan Company be operated - what about compliance with environmental standards?
Severin Travel is still a relatively new product. But here, too, we place great emphasis on quality and on sustainability in the selection of our incoming agencies and hotel partners.
We therefore do not include any budget all-inclusive hotels in our program, which push with "fierce prices" on the market and win only over a low price new guests. That does not fit our concept. Most of the accommodations, such as the Satao Camp, we know personally and we are in close and regular exchange with our partners.
Are your employees from Germany or Kenya coming?
Almost exclusively from Kenya. Many have been with us for decades. As a foreigner, it is very difficult in Kenya to get a work permit. Even Jürgen, the leader of our safari camp, who actually comes from Saxony, now wants to become a Kenyan.
What about insurance?
Employees must be employed by our Kenyan subsidiary and insured through Kenya. We pay for these costs. If an employee also wants a German private health insurance, he has to pay for it himself.
How difficult or easy is it to find suitable employees in Kenya?
Finding well-trained hotel workers on the ground is really difficult, since there is no dual vocational training in Kenya according to German standards.
We are therefore in the process of building a vocational school at the Severin Sea Lodge, in cooperation with the Arnsberg Vocational Training Center, where young Africans are trained in five craft and gastronomic professions.
The practical learning units are carried out in cooperation with the Severin Sea Lodge as well as directly at the also planned water treatment plant. The aim is to further qualify the local population in order to find employment on the labor market.
Not to train for their own needs?
However, of course, we will hire the best graduates ourselves.
What about the water treatment plant?
In Kenya the water situation is very difficult. Together with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), a separate water treatment plant is built, which is primarily operated by solar energy.
This allows the fresh water demand for the hotel to be sustained. Our goal is that the hotels have to produce their own water and their own energy in a closed circuit and do not have to buy it.
In addition, the inhabitants of Mombasa benefit from the water treatment. With a kind of "water kiosk" they have the opportunity to buy their daily drinking water at low cost.
What is the partnership with GIZ?
How to cooperate in the form of a public-private partnership: Every euro that I am putting into the project is also stuck in the federal government.
When is the project realized?
The architect has already designed the plan, we would like to start building this year. However, the loans are very high and the subsidies of the KfW and the German Development Company are quite low, so that we are still looking for further funding.
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