CAROL Sanderson resigned from her job and turned her family house into a guesthouse in 2010, despite not having the entrepreneurial and financial skills to run a business.

However, with the help of hotel group Tsogo Sun’s Book a Guesthouse programme, she now runs Casambo guesthouse in Mpumalanga, which has 20 rooms and two conference centres able to accommodate 200 people each.

Ms Sanderson is this year’s winner of the Tsogo Sun’s Book a Guesthouse — Guesthouse of the year competition. “The programme came at the right time as, being a former journalist, I had no entrepreneurial experience or skills in the tourism industry to run my business,” she said.

The Book a Guesthouse programme is the hotel group’s enterprise development initiative, which identifies and trains mainly black guesthouse owners around the country in the entrepreneurial and hospitality skills they need to run their businesses.

The programme was initially known as the “Adopt a Guesthouse” competition when it was started in 2005 and ran as a corporate social investment project donating furniture to businesswomen in Soweto.

“We wanted to encourage people to stay at these guesthouses and to generate a market for them. We didn’t want people to patronise the owners,” said Tsogo Sun group internal communications and special projects manager Candy Tothill.

There are now 90 guesthouses on the programme.

Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa strategy and projects head Caleb Mabaso said that Tsogo Sun’s programme was one of the most “ground-breaking” initiatives in driving transformation in the hospitality and tourism sector, which was ” not representative of where the country is in terms of ownership”.

Tsogo Sun CEO Marcel von Aulock said the company decided to embark on the programme to contribute to creating a growing middle class in the country, which would also benefit Tsogo Sun business.

“It has a commercial benefit that says the more businesses we create that are sustainable in a country, the more people they employ.”

Source: BDLive – Ndiswa Maqutu,