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Exploring South Africa's Entrepreneur Landscape w/ Bheki Dube 

During my journey to explore diverse cultures and communities around the world, I had the privilege of delving into South Africa’s vibrant entrepreneur landscape. I met Bheki Dube, a dynamic and visionary entrepreneur transforming the way people experience cities in South Africa. This journey also marked my first time traveling to Africa, which held significant meaning for me as a Black American exploring the continent of my ancestors.


Introduction to Bheki Dube


Bheki Dube is the founder of Curiocity Hostels, a network of design-led hostels offering unique, immersive experiences for travelers. His entrepreneurial journey began in the arts and photography scene of Johannesburg, where his passion for showcasing the city’s vibrant culture led him to start his first hostel. Today, Curiocity has expanded to multiple locations across South Africa, providing authentic and locally curated experiences to both domestic and international travelers.


The Birth of Curiocity


Bheki’s journey with Curiocity began in the inner-city neighborhood of Maboneng, Johannesburg. Maboneng, which means “Place of Light” in Sesotho, has undergone a remarkable transformation from a neglected area to a thriving cultural and creative hub. Bheki saw the potential in this neighborhood and launched Curiocity as a way to connect travelers with the authentic spirit of Johannesburg.


Curiocity is more than just a place to stay; it’s an experience. Each location is carefully designed to reflect the local culture, and guests are encouraged to engage with the community through curated tours, events, and activities. This approach not only provides travelers with a deeper understanding of the city but also supports local businesses and artists.


My First Trip to Africa


Coming to South Africa for the first time in 2017 was a profound experience for me. As a Black American, the visit held a special significance, allowing me to connect with the continent of my ancestors. The complex dynamics of race and history in South Africa, coupled with its vibrant cultures and communities, provided a rich context for my journey. This trip was not only about exploring a new place but also about understanding my own heritage and the shared struggles and triumphs of Black people across the world.


Exploring the Cradle of Humankind


One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to some of the oldest hominid fossils ever discovered. Walking through the caves and learning about our shared human origins was both humbling and inspiring. It underscored the importance of understanding our past to better appreciate the diversity and richness of human culture today.


A Conversation with Bheki Dube


My conversation with Bheki Dube took place at Farmhouse 58, a project near the Cradle of Humankind that aims to connect people to themselves, others, and nature. Bheki’s vision for Curiocity and his passion for decolonizing the hospitality industry were evident as he shared his journey and aspirations.


Bheki’s Entrepreneurial Vision


Bheki’s entrepreneurial journey is driven by a desire to decolonize the hospitality industry and create opportunities for Black South Africans. His work with Curiocity aims to change the narrative around tourism and travel in South Africa, making it more inclusive and representative of the country’s rich cultural diversity.


“Curiosity is about decolonizing a system,” Bheki explained. “It’s about changing that narrative and bringing out the best versions of ourselves. I hope through my work, I inspire the next generation to understand that it’s possible.”


Challenges and Implications


Bheki’s presence in the hospitality industry has significant implications. As a young Black entrepreneur, he faces challenges related to racial dynamics and access to funding. “Negotiating your blackness can be a tiring exercise,” Bheki noted. However, he remains committed to creating opportunities for the next generation and changing the landscape of the industry.


One of Bheki’s future goals is to establish a fund to support emerging Black entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector. “We need black funding instruments to fund our own ideas,” he emphasized. This vision aligns with a broader movement towards economic empowerment and ownership among Black South Africans.


A Shared Journey Towards Liberation


Our conversation also touched on the shared experiences of Black Americans and Black South Africans. Both communities have faced systemic oppression and are on a journey towards economic and social liberation. Collaboration and mutual support can play a crucial role in this process.


“There could be an interesting confluence around building or reimagining what’s on you,” Bheki said. “It’s through mediums like this, through saying, ‘Listen, I’ve got an idea,’ and connecting with people who can unlock funding and support.”


Conclusion


My journey through South Africa and my conversation with Bheki Dube were profoundly enriching experiences. They highlighted the importance of understanding our shared histories and working together to create a more equitable and inclusive future. As I continue to explore new cultures and communities, I am inspired by the resilience and ingenuity of people like Bheki, who are making a difference in their communities and beyond.

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