I own Saltycrax Backpackers and Saltycrax Adventures, and made the massive decision to start this endeavor at just 21 years old. This was the first backpackers in Tableview and one of only three 5-star backpackers in the country. The business proved to be successful from the beginning and I wanted to do more for my community. In 2007 I founded SAVE Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs various humanitarian projects focusing on education, sport and skills development in the townships of Cape Town. I’ve also created SAVE Volunteering, an organization that pairs local and international volunteers with humanitarian and conservation projects throughout Africa. I have the greatest love for people, travel and cultures and am honored to have served on numerous tourism boards and received numerous awards for my dedication to my community. I have also been a Police Reservist for over 10 years.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.

A born and bred South African, I am passionate about tourism, travel, cultural diversity and sharing my love for this country with people the world over.

Born in Durban, I then moved to the small suburban town of Tableview in Cape Town. After studying tourism and spending a year travelling around The United States, I returned to South Africa with a passion to show visitors what we have to offer. I was just 21 years old, but I trusted my passion, wrote a business plan to get a loan for Saltycrax, and managed to open the only backpackers in Tableview, which would go on to be one of the top backpackers in the country. As Saltycrax grew more successful, a sister tour agency, Saltycrax Adventures, was soon created to offer unique adventure packages for people looking to experience more of South Africa.

My investment in tourism and my passion for this country do not end with my business, I’ve also served on various tourism and NGO boards, including Backpacking South (BSA) and now South Africa Youth Travel Confederation (SAYTC). I have also served on the Executive boards of the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), South African Police sports club, TLC, World Youth Student & Education Travel Confederation (WYSTC) as well as the International Police Association – West Coast.

Because my work is so close to my heart, it has been the greatest honor to receive community awards such as the LEAD SA Hero, ELLE BOSS Entrepreneur Finalist 2016, International Polices Association Special Merit Award, Lilizele Tourism Excellence 2016 and Trip Advisors Excellence.

Please tell us a little more about the SAVE Foundation and how it came about.

In 2006, my business was doing well and I wanted to do more for the community that I grew up in. I decided to join the Police reservists and though this was exposed to the townships and poverty that had been on my doorstep, yet behind closed doors, all my life. I founded SAVE foundation shortly after, a registered non-profit organization that assists and uplifts local Cape Town communities by providing preschool, after-school and sports development programmes such as surfing and swimming to disadvantaged children from the local townships. The sister NPO is South Africa Volunteer Experience (SAVE Volunteering) which facilitates projects locally and internationally projects by matching them with volunteers from around the globe. The various projects we support range from wildlife and conservation programs around South Africa to humanitarian programs in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about them.

Our latest exciting program is a surf camp for underprivileged children that are part of our surfing school. Together with the help of volunteers we take them from Cape Town along the garden route, competing against other development teams along the way. They also get the chance to volunteer and work with animals such as elephants and wild cats, learning and getting further insight to a world that was previously only imagined. This is very exciting for the children as most of them have never left Cape Town, let alone traveled the garden route all the way to Jbay. There is a documentary about one of our surf children, Paul, that is doing its rounds around the world and winning numerous awards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSbFcgum2SM.

Currently we are launching an Internship program, available for local and international students and recent graduates, to bridge the gap between companies in need and people looking for work experience. I believe cross cultural exchange is so important in creating worldly citizens that have a better understanding and acceptance of cultures, ultimately creating a united civilization.

We are also working on opening a first aid clinic in one of our local townships that currently has no access to public transport, schools (apart from our one) or hospitals.

Additionally, we run many other projects throughout the year from back to school campaigns, Christmas for the children, and Mandela Day campaigns for corporate companies. We do this on top of our daily project operations, because my passion for my local community not only started this journey, but has not wavered. No matter how much growth we’re able to achieve, I hope I will always run local programs to serve the community that has served me so well over the years.

What are you passionate about?

Seeing my personnel and volunteers take on the work/brand that I have created as their own, and invest as much of themselves as I have is incredibly rewarding. Seeing them live with so much passion for what we do reminds me why I started this in the first place, and their investment in the people we work with is more proof than any statistic could be of our lasting impact. I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work, and it makes my passion far reaching. When work is the opportunity to fulfill one of the deepest parts of myself, it’s hard not to feel passion for every single element of my job.

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Being part of the youth tourism industry/family and seeing what amazing and innovative ideas that my peers and industry friends have created over the years has always kept me inspired to do more. The social entrepreneurs, Toni and Lee of The Backpack, mentor Hannes from Deco Lodge, the unique Forgotten Route by Francois, professional service from hotspots 2c, all round support from Deborah from Bear Trap and award winning backpackers Lebos in Johannesburg are just a few of the people who influence me to keep creating, developing and growing as a person and business.

What is your personal motto?

Never give up, no matter what you are faced with; if there is a will there is a way. Additionally, and importantly, live life with balance.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

It’s hard and very scary in the beginning. Be confident, be positive, and reach for the stars. You can do it, but you must first try.

What are your top 3 business tips?

  1. Never take “no” as an answer. We live in an amazing country filled with opportunities. It’s like a blank canvas – if you can dream it and believe you can get there, a bit of work is all you need.
  2. Keep adapting your business to current trends in your industry to stay above the game, never allow your product to become stagnant.
  3. Know what is going on in every aspect of your business especially your financial department .

What would you say is the secret to your success?

Having a team of passionate people that work in our companies and projects, they believe in our goals and objectives and we work together as a team.

Your favourite quote:

Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

You can do it! As simple as that!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t change a thing. Do it all over again. (apart from your choice in men ;))

Which book are you currently reading?

I’m too busy taking over the world. I do enjoy falling asleep to TED Talks.

What book can you read over and over again?

The SAVE Volunteering guide ;).

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

Live life with balance and don’t take things for granted. What I’ve achieved would mean much less if I didn’t also have a full personal and emotional life to live when the work day ends, and if I didn’t take the time to look around and feel grateful for the community around me.

Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?

Share their passion with us! Anyone wanting to share their time and support our communities is encouraged to reach out. From corporate funding or team building events in the communities, to stationary or food hampers – we are so happy to help you get involved.

Contact Information:
Twitter: @SaltyCrax_SAVE
Websitewww.savefoundation.org.za | www.volunteering.org.za | www.saltycrax.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Southafricanvolunteerexperiences
E-Mail: carla@saltycrax.com