A PR mogul finds home in the Wilderness
• Kabelo Binns to add his passion for entrepreneurship to the growing synergies of OWS
With a strong history of supporting Wilderness Holdings, and especially Okavango Wilderness Safaris, from a communications and reputation-management perspective in recent years, Kabelo Binns was appointed Chairman of the new Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS) Board effective 1 June 2021.
Born in Serowe, Binns has always had a love for learning and the outdoors. He is first a patriotic Motswana and second passionate about his homeland and its sustainable development. He is also deeply committed to projects centred around community development, citizen empowerment and nurturing talent amongst the youth of Botswana to allow them to truly thrive.
Binns began his career at Debswana, the world’s leading producer of gem diamonds, in various roles within the mining giant’s corporate affairs team, ultimately working as Group Public Affairs Manager. Here he drove several instrumental projects, including but not limited to the Debswana Corporate Social Investment strategy, which saw establishment of numerous successful community partnerships and the renowned “Diamonds for Development” initiative.
Seeing the market need for a dedicated communications advisory, he left Debswana in 2004 to establish Hotwire, Botswana’s first and leading public relations and public affairs business. Today, the Hotwire family of brands leads the communications sector in Botswana. Binns’ passion for entrepreneurship has seen him also venture into a number of other industry leading enterprises in the country – all committed to making a meaningful commitment to Botswana’s economy and its growth story. Hotwire’s impressive list of clients, both past and present, include some in the tourism and hospitality industry, such as South African Tourism, Lonrho Hotels, Lansmore, Protea Hotel Gaborone Masa Square, Hilton Garden Inn and Air Botswana.
Over his 26-year working career to-date, Binns has worked across Africa and conducted major projects in Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Tanzania, from public affairs to research, stakeholder relations, governance and public education, as well as from crisis management to IPOs and corporate training. He has headed major national and regional public communication and public education drives.
Binns is also a board member of a number of organisations, including Business Botswana, Maru-a-Pula and Y Care. He has previously served as Chair of the Media and Creative Subsector at the High Level Consultative Council, as a member of the Presidential Task Team to develop Botswana’s National Vision 2036, as Vice-Chairman of the Botswana Agricultural Board (BAMB), and more.
Binns has various international qualifications, degrees and memberships to his name, including a BA (Hons) from Exeter University (UK) and completion of the EO Entrepreneurial Master’s Programme at MIT (Boston, USA). He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Practitioners (CIPR, UK), and the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA).
“It is an honour to join the Board of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, an organisation I believe has much to show in terms of social impact and, indeed, is a model for ecotourism that has been exported around the world. I look forward to helping to further entrench the brand promise ‘Our Journeys Change Lives’ because that is what we do for our guests, our communities and the amazing staff we have from across Botswana,” notes Binns.
The history of OWS began in Botswana 38 years ago with one single purpose – to use life-changing journeys to help conserve and restore Africa’s wilderness and wildlife. The company was the first with the passion and courage to pioneer conservation tourism as we know it today, growing its positive impact through southern Africa. Today, Wilderness curates authentic and intimate wildlife encounters across two million hectares of pristine areas in seven countries and around 40 camps and lodges across Africa. It all began in Botswana, and today the company is excited to further cement its commitment to and with Botswana.
Acutely aware of the effects of COVID-19 on Botswana and Batswana, OWS does not take its role in the industry lightly. The company has taken a very serious look at how it can protect and grow conservation tourism in Botswana in the future. One of the things it has done in the short-term is enhance its community work with food deliveries and anti-poaching initiatives over the past year. As part of its Conservation Heroes COVID-Relief programme, OWS has delivered over 4 500 food parcels to community partners in Botswana to-date, positively impacting over 18 000 people, with more handovers planned for the coming months.
As part of its longer-term strategy, OWS is focused on expanding internationally to help customers build a desire to not only travel to Botswana but to understand the logistics involved when travelling to its remote wilderness areas. “Botswana remains a key element in the Wilderness story, one we want to further showcase for her true beauty and magic in a responsible and sustainable way and in line with the national vision for socio-economic development and tourism strategies. With that in mind, we are delighted to appoint Kabelo Binns as Chairman of the OWS Board,” notes Keith Vincent, Chief Executive Officer of Wilderness.
“This is a key step towards further buttressing our commitment to Botswana, ensuring we never lose our vision to protect the very best of Botswana and interests of the country, her people, and economy, through high-end conservation tourism,” adds Vicent. “Kabelo is passionate about the sustainable development of Botswana, the preservation of her rich culture and the promising future she holds as a beacon of excellence for business, and indeed conservation tourism. We have every confidence that Kabelo will be an integral and valuable asset to the team, helping take OWS into its next era of growth and progress. We are excited about what he brings to our Board and look forward to our next chapter in Botswana, with additional members of the Board to be appointed in the next few weeks”.