ResRequest goes Google

ResRequest- GoogleSEO, SEM, CPC, CTR. Foreign speak? Not any more thanks to the Google Digital Skills workshop. We attended a workshop hosted by Google as part of their mission to provide digital skills to schools, communities and small businesses to get them online.

The session started with a few words from the South African Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services and his Deputy discussing the importance of internet access and digital skills for all. This was corroborated by the Head of Public Policy at Google, Caroline Hankinson and Head of Google South Africa, Guy Hankinson.

ResRequest- Google

The Google Digital Skills program started 9 months ago and trained 7000 people. These workshops opened school children’s eyes to new career opportunities and community members realised that they can up-skill and then consult. The struggle of SME’s to find customers can be assisted through using digital tools.

The workshop continued into a practical application and we learnt about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), CPC (Cost per click) and CTR (Click through rate) and how to apply these effectively.

ResRequest- Google

The workshop ended with a delicious lunch at the Three Cities Square Hotel. With an increasingly digital world, having a strong online presence is a business asset and one on which we continue to improve.

 

Rhinos Without Borders

ResRequest-rhinos without borders

Anna Rathmann: Great Plains Foundation

Have you ever seen a rhino fly? Well, we at the Great Plains Foundation have. And our goal is to see 100 rhinos fly.

In 2014, Great Plains Conservation partnered with fellow conservation-minded safari company, &Beyond, to embark on one of the most ambitious rhino conservation projects to date: Rhinos Without Borders. By bringing together a community of dedicated wildlife conservationists, individuals, and travel industry leaders Rhinos Without Borders relocates rhino from poaching hotspots in South Africa to carefully selected remote wild areas deep within Botswana. Rhinos Without Borders, was created as an immediate response to the growing rhino poaching crisis in southern Africa, but at its core it is a project of hope.

Why Botswana? Because Botswana currently has one of the lowest poaching rates in Africa where the country’s conservation officials are supported by an official anti-poaching unit and political will from the President down to help save rhinos.

By allowing the rhino to roam free in their undisclosed locations, Rhinos Without Borders is creating a viable breeding population of rhino in Botswana, thus broadening the gene pool and increasing the habitat for rhino in Africa.

To date we have successfully relocated 26 rhino with plans for multiple additional relocations in 2017. On a recent relocation the rhino team was joined by film-makers from GoPro Cameras. The footage produced captured the attention of nearly 2 million people through YouTube and evolved into a special campaign and partnership with GoPro cameras resulting in two additional films and funds raised to move two more rhino. Below is one of the films produced.

One of the truest measures of success has been the birth of 5 calves to the group of already relocated rhino. We see these calves as a sign of hope not just for these specific relocated rhinos, but for the entire species.

ResRequest- rhinos without borders

The cost to relocate a single rhino through Rhinos Without Borders is $45,000 USD. This amount covers the costs associated with moving a rhino, funds a dedicated team of rhino monitors and anti-poaching patrols, and supports community conservation education initiatives in the rhinos’ new home. Those who fund an entire rhino move are given the opportunity to name a relocated rhino, with the names ranging from humorous to sentimental. We are honoured by the individuals and travel companies who stepped forward and partner with us in this project.
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Rhinos Without Borders is an example of privately led conservation having a positive and marked impact on outcomes, where the private sector can identify needs, solutions and then work with governments to achieve quick decision making and goals that substantially change the face of conservation. Through such a project, the travel industry and individuals are giving hope to a species of animal emblematic of Africa and entrusted to all of us to protect and preserve. To learn more and join us in our efforts please visit:

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Great Plains Conservation Foundation: Mission
The Great Plains Foundation, is the charitable foundation arm of Great Plains Conservation, and is a US Section 501(c)3 charitable Trust whose mission is to fund the development of best practices for world class conservation with a long term commitment to the environment, wildlife and local communities in Africa, including but not limited to the promotion of responsible tourism to help alleviate poverty and to support community development in Africa.

 

ResRequest GP-Foundation

2016 in review

ResRequest year

Here’s a short summary of our year and what we got up to.

Movements

ResRequest travels

We attended a record number of shows and conferences this year. Connecting with many of our power users and business partners, as well as new prospects.

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In conjunction with our integration partners, Direct Pay Online and Expedia, we hosted a workshop in Nairobi and connected with Wetu at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

Sales opportunities, implementations, training and consulting projects took us to Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, all around South Africa and the Congo.

Team

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This year we sadly said goodbye to Paula, Nomfundo and Chirlaine. Chirlaine’s farewell coincided with Halloween so the Empangeni office had fun dressing up for her party. They will be missed and we wish them well as they start new chapters.

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We also said a big hello and welcomed Luzelle and Cheri to our functional support team and Kristen who reinforces the marketing team. Luzelle loves her coffee, Cheri enjoys wildlife and exploring game reserves and Kristen is a keen runner. These key players will strengthen our core.

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Left: A sneak peak of our call centre. Centre: And a 1,2,3,4… Right: Durban gets serious about fitness.

This was the year of activity. We revamped some of our office space and for our mid year team get-together we had a blast trying out a line dancing class and discovered that some of us have two left feet! Some hardcore crew even enrolled in bootcamp to get fit, which has inspired us to launch a ResFit campaign in the new year.

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To end off our annual review workshops, we had a unique team building experience involving horses in the Midlands Meander. Horseplay taught us about communication and leadership through interaction with horses. Take a look at what we learnt…

We got a sweet treat from Santa and the offices wasted no time in trying out the new waffle makers with office waffle parties. In keeping with the waffle theme, meet our waffle topping team!

Give back

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Some of the causes we got behind this festive season were the Santa Shoebox initiative for under-privileged children. As part of this initiative, we wrapped shoeboxes and packed them with useful items from the Santa Shoebox list. These gift boxes will be delivered to children across the province for Christmas. We also embarked on a cancer treatment drive for Mike Mthembu, our faithful builder and handyman, with the Youcaring donation platform.

Here’s to an even better 2017!

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ResRequest staff waffle

Every super team needs ‘superfood’

This year Santa sent us a super sweet Christmas treat of waffle makers to ensure regular waffle parties to keep our energy levels up. These crispy golden-brown delights are a hit with our cake-loving team. In the spirit of ResRequest, meet our extra special toppings that make our waffle out of this world.

Alex

ResRequest staff waffle

 

 

 

 

 

 

ResRequest staff waffle

ResRequest staff waffle

 

 

 

Cheri

 

 

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Jaco

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jill Kristen Luzelle MikeNicol Tash TK Walter

ResRequest and Horseplay

ResRequest team build

As 2016 draws to a close, the ResRequest team embarked on their annual team build. The location was kept a secret and anticipation was noticeable.

Horseplay in the Dargle Valley was the location of the 2016 team build. This innovative programme uses horses to demonstrate the need for effective communication as the horses will not respond unless they understand the task and trust the leader.

To demonstrate the importance of clear communication, Carlene Bronner of Horseplay, had the team direct Nicol (ResRequest developer) through an obstacle course using only the words, “Yes” and “No”, and in fact, Carlene said that ResRequest was one of the fastest teams to complete the challenges, proving we are not so bad when it comes to communication!

The team was then divided into pairs and given a horse. Over the course of the day, we learnt increasingly challenging activities with our horses, and how to communicate these activities to our horses so that everyone understood and the activity could be completed.

Great fun was had, and even those who were nervous of horses, overcame their fear.

Carlene summed up the key points from the day as follows:

Have a plan: If you don’t have a plan, then your horse/colleague will sense a void in your leadership and will fill in that void. The results will seldom be productive.

 

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Be consistent: If you are consistent in your emotions, your execution of ideas/work/dealing with situations as they arise, you will be found to be dependable. If you are dependable, you will be seen as trustworthy. If you are trustworthy, then it becomes easy for someone to hand over responsibilities to you.

Be patient: If you are impatient, you will lose the connection between you and your horse/colleague. Sometimes it takes time, but next time it will take less time, although some situations/people/horses may require going over the basics more than once.

 

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Be persistent: Some situations/people/horses need more reassurance more often because of their doubts about their own abilities, and some require affirmation that you are in control because they are in doubt about your abilities! Don’t see that as a criticism but as a motivation to be better.

 

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Be non-confrontational: If you lose your cool and lash out under pressure, the damage could set you back in the eyes of your colleague. Take a deep breath and think about how you are going to respond, rather than just reacting. Remember the 8 + 2 = 10 = point of balance. Don’t buy into the emotion of your colleague, rather control yourself and get that point of balance back into the equation.

 

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If you mess up (and you will), fix up and move on: We are human and we do sometimes find our ability to stay calm being challenged, when you do mess up; fix up and move on. Don’t be tempted to put your colleague in the proverbial box and limit any future growth in the relationship. Horses never forget but they always forgive, unless they see a pattern developing into a bad habit because then they will develop undesirable behaviour to deal with your bad habits!

 

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And the biggest lesson of the day: Be in the moment, be present!

How a 24 year old started a $70,000-a-month online business and travels the world

ResRequest blog

Written by Tanza Loudenback

Aileen Adalid entered the corporate world at age 19 after graduating from De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, with a degree in business management and had a combined year of training experience under her belt at huge multinational companies like Nestlé, Unilever, and Siemens.

But the trilingual Philippines native quickly grew envious of the flexible lifestyles of “digital nomads” she met while freelancing on the side in Manila.

At 21, after spending two years working as a product controller, which paid just $300 per month, at Deutsche Bank, she realised the corporate life wasn’t for her. She was increasingly intrigued by both entrepreneurship and travel, so she left her job with about $600 in savings in April 2013.

For the next year, Adalid freelanced in graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing, sustained largely by one stable client contract that earned her more than double her previous salary. The best part: The flexibility enabled her to travel frequently to places like France and Thailand.

After a year of freelancing, Adalid,with a friend to start an online Amazon retail business called Adalid Gear, a health and outdoor accessories company, and relocated to Belgium on a student visa after being accepted to a graduate program at the University of Antwerp.

When her namesake business took off a few months later, Adalid left school and switched to a partner visa, with the help of her Belgian business partner, to focus on growing the business. To get the company off the ground, they started by carefully researching the market to discover the most in-demand products.

Their dedication paid off. Adalid Gear, which sells sports and outdoor gear, now has average monthly sales of $70,000, and has established markets in the US and UK.

She also revived her one-time teenage diary blog, I Am Aileen, fashioning it into a lifestyle and travel blog that has gained traction among online travel communities.

Adalid herself now earns about $5,000 a month from the business and “affiliate partnerships, sponsored posts, and social media shout outs” related to her travel blog. And thanks to brand and tourism board partnerships, Adalid often scores free travel and accommodations. But she doesn’t accept everything she’s offered. “I want [the blog] to remain authentic, personalised, and uncluttered … besides, I already earn most of my ‘keep’ from my online business.” Thanks to travel freebies and discounts, she says she’s able to save about 70% of her income.

Adalid typically works less than four hours per day on Adalid Gear, mainly handling research, marketing, promotions, and communication, allowing her to go on a trip from her home base, (now back in the Philippines) at least once a month to destinations throughout Europe and Asia.

Adalid’s nomadic lifestyle has taught her a few lessons about productivity. “Being constantly on the move can ruin anyone’s focus, rhythm, and pace, but I’ve discovered that it can be easily solved by doing slow travel and finding the right balance to how you do your workflow.”

Adalid is back in the Philippines now with plans to make Spain her next home base. Her long-term goal is to continue to grow her businesses and to travel to every country in the world.

First published on Business Insider

Saving the environment with an app

ResRequest blog

Written by Emmanuelle Landais

Hunched over her laptop, eyes locked on the screen, Marième Seye listens to the step-by-step instructions given by her teacher.

The 18-year-old isn’t studying maths or history, however. With 24 other Senegalese students, she is learning to develop a mobile app to raise awareness about the environment.

In small groups, the students develop apps focusing on environmental issues, in the format of their choice – such as a game, quiz or a platform to look up potentially unfamiliar terms, such as “endangered species”.

Seye has called her app “Weer Weeldé”, which means “a healthy planet for a healthy life” in Wolof.

Users must choose which between four pictures – for example, a person drinking dirty water, another smoking, industrial fumes and people planting trees – to pick what represents the most positive contribution to the planet.

Choosing the correct image – in this case, tree planting – rewards the user with points, before all pictures appear with a caption explaining the dangers or benefits linked to the activities.

“I’m interested in developing a phone app because I use them all the time,” Seye told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The three-day workshop, organised by the Goethe Institute and mJangale, a Senegalese after-school programme, aims to improve students’ literacy, numeracy, and foreign language skills.

Christelle Scharff, co-founder of mJangale and professor of computer science at Pace University in New York, teaches participants to use MIT App Inventor – a drag-and-drop tool allowing users to create a basic phone app.

The students follow her every click on a computer screen projected on the wall.

“The goal is to introduce young people to computing, as well as to make them more knowledgeable about the environment,” Scharff explained, walking between the groups to check their progress.

“So it’s applying computing to something. We didn’t want kids to just develop an app, but also to gain knowledge in another area.”

The Android apps will be made available on Google Play, where they can be downloaded for free.

Idriss Sall Diop, 18, just passed his baccalaureate. “This is totally new to me, I’ve never studied IT and just started using computers,” he admitted from his front-row seat.

“Young people are interested in social media but not necessarily in the environment,” he added. “I think these apps are a way around that – we’re always keen to learn about new things.”

Adja Aissatou Sy, communications manager at Senegal’s Ministry of Environment, said at the workshop that teenagers have limited awareness when it comes to environmental issues.

“Mobile apps are a good way to share information and broaden young people’s knowledge on this topic,” she explained.

The African continent has been slow to adopt digital technologies in education, according to Thierry Zomahoun, chairperson of the Next Einstein Forum, a conference to advance science innovation in Africa. The first conference was held in Dakar in March.

He believes more advanced equipment in schools – from computers to scientific laboratories – will broaden students’ horizon and better prepare them for the job market.

“We can’t just stand idle while there are more African engineers in the U.S. than there are on the African continent – we need to reverse that trend,” he said at the conference.

Scharff added that “as big consumers of technology, Facebook and all these tools, young people can also contribute to tons of solutions here in Senegal.”

According to Senegal’s Telecoms Regulation Authority report released in March, the country’s mobile phone penetration rate reached 113.7 percent in the first quarter of 2016 – which can be explained by the fact that some mobile users hold several SIM cards.

Sy agrees that youth need a context in which to create a link with the environment.

“For example, there doesn’t exist, as far as I know, an app that focuses on biodiversity in Senegal,” she said.

“I would like to see a game on identifying our endangered species – like chimpanzees or panthers – and asking questions that would empower young people to protect their environment.”

(Reporting by Emmanuelle Landais, editing by Zoe Tabary and Laurie Goering from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change.)

How bees, elephants and farmers are keeping each other safe in a genius way

Farming is hard work, but being a farmer in places such as Kenya, Botswana and Sri Lanka has a unique challenge that other areas of the world don’t have: elephants! Wild elephants, whose natural behaviour is to roam, have been known to march through crop fields and causing damage to, or even destroying, crops.

When the farmers try to intervene, things can turn ugly, with both human and elephant injuries and even deaths.

Sadly, like too many animals, elephants face many dangers at the hands of humans. Elephants are intelligent, sensitive, and have complex emotional and social connections with one another and with different animals.

A solution was needed that would both keep the farmers’ fields safe and make sure the elephants were not harmed. This solution was not only brilliantly simple, but also had the added bonus of helping out another species in crisis: bees.

In areas where elephants are free-roaming, humans and elephants have to coexist. However, the farmers became angry when the elephants raided their farms and tried to scare them off with guns, rocks and fireworks. Both were serious issues as the farmers relied on their crops for income but the elephants were being injured and killed.

There seemed to be no simple solution until zoologist Dr. Lucy King noticed that elephants don’t like bees and will avoid them at all costs. This is because the bees’ stings are especially painful to the elephants’ trunks.

If elephants hear buzzing, they will assume that it is bees and leave the area immediately as well as signal to other elephants that bees are in the vicinity.

Thus bee fences were born!

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“Bee fencing” is the use of hanging rows of beehives each connected by a length of wire. When an elephant approaches, it will knock into the wire, setting the hives swinging and disturbing the bees. The elephants hear the buzzing and leave. The crops are safe, the humans are safe, and the elephants are safe. The bees are safe too.

Dr. King has been working with various conservation organisations to build bee fences around local farms in Africa and Sri Lanka. She hopes that bee fences will be the first of many other initiatives to create sustainable solutions for humans and animals to coexist peacefully. The project has also attracted the attention of important organisations who are contributing to create more bee fences.

The bees also help pollinate fields and maintain the biodiversity needed to support an ecosystem, which is an additional benefit for farmers.  Farmers also get to keep the honey and beeswax produced by their hives, which they can use or sell.

This “elephant-friendly honey” is available in local shops near the areas where the farmers live and work, so unless you’re planning a visit to Nairobi, you won’t be able to get any!

Learn more about bee fencing: Elephants and Bees Project

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The Giant Flag

We’ve got behind a creative initiative with monumental potential which we will follow and share with great interest. We became a part of the flag by picking to plant red hot blooded desert roses aka the Fire Barrel.

The Giant Flag is a legacy project of vast proportions, a celebration of the spirit of South Africa and her people. The catalysts are building a giant flag made up of millions of coloured desert cacti and succulents, and a four-megawatt solar field, in an area that was previously completely barren. Effectively viewable from space and the size of 66 soccer fields, The Giant Flag will not only claim its place as a natural wonder, but also as a new model of economic stimulus for previously disadvantaged communities. Job creation, clean energy and tourism come together in a world first green innovation project that’s making change happen in South Africa!

Make change happen

Your contribution, big or small, has the ability to transform people’s lives. You will be joining a community of global change-makers in creating hundreds of green collar jobs, with women constituting a majority of the labour force. You will also be stimulating future entrepreneurs and furthering education for the future of South Africa. They’re not just seeding a few plants,  a community will grow and what could become a model for a thriving sustainable development.

Global connection

With your help, this project has the potential to become the biggest global collaboration of its kind. The Giant Flag will serve as a community of optimism, linking people through the power of positive change. Contributors will be able to share messages of support and spark new connections that will hopefully grow as the Giant Flag grows.

Green is great

Green is the new black … red, white, blue and yellow! The millions of succulents and cacti in the Giant Flag will be able to offset approximately 200 tons of carbon a year which will play it’s part in combating climate change. They will also bring back rich and diverse plant life to this currently barren area. Plus, our 4 megawatt solar field will have the ability to power more than 4000 homes.

Why don’t you consider being a part of this great idea and support South African communities, clean energy and tourism. Become a part of the flag here.

On safari in the Congo

http://www.safaritart.com/on-safari-in-congo/Written by: Carrie Hampton alias the SAFARI TART!

Seasoned travellers will be interested in the Odzala Discovery Camps in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park of the remote north of the Republic of Congo’s river basin. It’s the world’s second largest tropical rainforest after the Amazonand one of the earth’s largest lungs, playing an essential role in global climate control. The region has been a National Park since 1935 – making it one of the oldest on the African continent.

Odzala has other faces than the rainforest with vast savannah in the south and wide, meandering rivers crossing the region. A distinctive feature of Odzala are marshy clearings in the middle of an ocean of trees called bais. Even the shiest inhabitants of Odzala like forest elephants and gorillas come here to drink and take in precious minerals and salts contained in the bai soils.

Birds, Mammals and Primates
Over 400 bird species and 100 different mammal species are found here, including western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and red-tailed monkeys along with forest buffalo, sitatunga (a rare sight anywhere on safari) and duikers antelopes not much larger than rabbits. Herds of shy forest elephant move along ancient pathways, avoiding the 70 villages, some with just a handful of inhabitants. The local people are primarily Bantu and forest dwellers (pygmies).

There are three camps; Ngaga, Mboko and Lango. 

Ngaga Camp in primary forest just outside the park boundary, overlooks a beautiful open glade and is within overlapping ranges of several groups of western lowland gorillas. Two of the gorilla groups are becoming habituated to being watched. It’s a focal point for world-class research and gives unforgettable primate encounters. Ngaga Camp’s unique design evokes the fun of childhood tree houses, with six canopy rooms with wraparound walkways.

Mboko Camp has 12 guest rooms extending along the banks of a tributary watering a lush meadow-like savannah. It’s the interface between tropical rainforest and grasslands, with hundreds of towering termite mounds creating an other-worldly panorama. Watch out for the forest buffalo, forest elephant and spotted hyena.

Lango Camp with it’s six bedrooms has one of the most arresting views of any camp in Africa! Raised high the camp spans the forest gallery and beyond to the marshy bai, which holds a magnetic attraction to huge flocks of green pigeons and grey parrots, as well as herds of forest buffalo by day and forest elephants by night. In the south-central part of Odzala with its variety of converging habitats and rivers, the highlight is travelling on the waters in by motorboat, traditional mokoro or kayak and exploring the streams and marshes on foot in safety – a truly immersive experience!

One thing’s for sure – you will be one of very few who have visited this remote area and if you get there before me, I’ll be very jealous.