Those entering the tourism industry ahead of the World Cup could make millions but they need to be aware of possible pitfalls

With the World Cup looming, the hospitality sector will prove to be one of the most lucrative industries in the country. But Calvin Maphophe says that people need to be careful when entering the market.

With the World Cup looming, the hospitality sector will prove to be one of the most lucrative industries in the country. But Calvin Maphophe says that people need to be careful when entering the market.

"You can't just expect to build a guest house and start making money. It takes a lot of planning," says the owner of Mambedi Country Lodge in Limpopo. "It's like any other business and if you're looking for funding or just trying to market yourself well, you'll need to formulate a detailed plan. This will give you direction later on."

Maphophe graduated from the University of the North with a bachelor's degree in commerce specialising in taxation and worked for various firms as an accountant.

"In 1999 I started my own business recruiting nurses, but over time I realised that I needed to do something true to my own heart," Maphophe says. "I decided to take a small break to think about things.

"Fortunately our family had quite a good size of land back home in Mambedi (Limpopo), and I decided to build a house for myself," he recalls. "I intended it to be for private use, but since I was working full time in Johannesburg, I did not use it very often. Since there was a huge demand for accommodation in the area, I decided to build a guest lodge where people could relax and enjoy nature."

The first brick of the lodge was laid in June 2004 and the lodge was opened with 15 bedrooms, a conference centre and tropical gardens in November 2005. "It's doing well considering it was a no-go area as far as new business ventures were concerned," he says. "Despite that, we managed to generate R1,7million in the first year. We could have made much more if we had more rooms.

"I've just applied for a loan from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to add on 30 new rooms and I am confident that we will get it," he says. Mambedi Country Lodge was awarded a four-star hospitality rating in its opening year and won the 2006 Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETEYA).

Maphophe is also the managing director and founder of Maphops Management Services, the holding company of Mambedi and several other enterprises. "We have several government construction projects, social investment programmes, as well as a travel agency," he says. "Besides making a profit we would also like to contribute to creating jobs and developing the areas around the lodge."

Recent cement shortages have threatened to hinder the progress of people looking to embark on extensive construction projects, including developing infrastructure for the World Cup. But Maphopho says that a brick yard located in the Mambedi area will create supply for his own future needs and that of people hoping to develop in the area.

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