AFRICA INTERNET cc & BACKPACK AFRICA PUBLISHING
Africa started trading in March 1996. From the outset, the
objective was to promote South Africa as a preferred travel
destination to the international backpacking and travel market.
The business had 2 main promotional strategies; a comprehensive
web site promoting African travel operator's
(www.backpackafrica.com) and a full colour booklet (The
Backpackers and Budget Travel Guide) that was published and
distributed on a quarterly basis.
The company has grown considerably over the last five years and
its web presence has evolved to include a number of travel
portals, which cater for most sectors in the travel industry,
including bed and breakfast, hotels and safari lodges. These
portals are highly visible on the global search engines and
attract over 200 000 visits to the sites monthly.
BACKPACK AFRICA BUSINESS PROPOSITION:
portals are in the unique position of on the one hand providing a
service to the vast number of travel operators (lodges, BnB's,
tour operators, car-hire etc.) and on the other providing a
pleasant and efficient service to the traveler.
We have a backpacker / budget travel portal utilising state of
the art Internet and database technology. Our business model
allows us to charge travel providers a monthly hosting fee for the
exposure we give them on our website.
addition to the monthly hosting fee BPA also earn a booking
commission on each successful booking that is made through the
This commission is paid by the vendors and tour operators. Each
vendor or operator is in turn an agent for every other vendor or
operator in our database. Thus they earn commission by booking the
services of each other.
philosophy of supporting each other with bookings and commission
payments has created an excellent environment into which new
products and services can be launched.
We have just launched backpacker / budget travel sites for
Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The databases for
future sites that cater for more up specific segments of the
travel industry are currently being compiled and will be launched
within the next six to nine months.
As our listings grow it is our intension to build travel sites
that cater for specific niche markets. Examples of these are the
various: - adventure sports and sport tours, university sports and
educational activities, historic and cultural tours etc.
key component of BPA's strategy is to open international portals
and leverage off the cross-selling opportunities that this
provides. The agents on the system will sell the products and
services of international vendors who in turn will sell those of
An emphasis will be placed on earning maximum foreign revenue, but
development and administration costs will be kept to a minimum, as
they are ZAR based.
COMPANY LOCATION & FACILITIES:
Backpack Africa Head office is presently located at 233a Jan Smuts
Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg and has regional
representation in Cape Town, Middleburg, Maputo, United Kingdom,
Australia and shortly New Zealand. A call centre with 5 travel
consultants and technical advisers offer support to the site
vendors and travel advice to clients.
The site maintenance is done in-house by the technical department
at head office and the development programming and debugging by
MANAGEMENT SUMMARY AND PHILOSOPHY
management philosophy is based on responsibility and mutual
respect. People who work at Backpack Africa want to work at
Backpack Africa because we have an environment that encourages
creativity and achievement.
The business culture at BPA is unique, the business is run with
every effort to match expenditure with revenues, and hence after 5
years of trading BPA's balance sheet is relatively healthy. Our
overhead structure is extremely lean and we constantly look for
innovative ways of growing our business within our financial
team consists of 7 people, under a CEO with five team leaders that
manage different sectors of the business. Each leader has been
chosen for the strengths they have in their particular fields.
Organogram of the Backpack Africa Management Team.
Timothy Nel: -
CEO and Sales Manager of Backpack Africa: - 39 years old and
was the founder of Backpack Africa. He matriculated in 1980 from
Damelin College. He was a gun crew detachment commander in the
SANDF from 1982 to 1984 and from July 1984 he managed a family run
construction company called Nelcon cc until December 1990.
this time he qualified as a master builder and was a member of the
master builders association.
In 1991 he formed his own construction company, TLC Construction
that he still runs today on a limited scale. In 1995 he started
Happy Valley Backpackers Lodge in Sunninghill Park and was
extensively involved in the backpacking and budget travel industry
in South and Southern Africa.
to a lack of effective advertising and exposure platforms
available to the backpacking and budget travel industry in
Southern Africa, he then stared Backpack Africa Internet cc and
Backpack Africa Publishing cc of which he is the CEO and the
Editor of the Backpack Africa magazine.
1998 he started the Gauteng Backpackers Association of which he is
still the chairman. He is responsible for the concept, planning
and development of the Backpack Africa booking engine and related
travel portals and is the current webmaster.
Leon Gerber: -
Marketing and Sales Strategy Manager: - 38 years old. After
matriculating in 1981, enrolled for a B.com degree at the
University of the Witwatersrand. After completing 1 year left full
time study to do articles with auditors Deloite and Touche.
completing 3 years of articles, decided that the accounting
profession was not dynamic enough and left to complete two years
national service in the South African Air Force. Leon was selected
and completed officers training.
Joined the family publishing business for 3 years before deciding
to make a career move into Information Technology. Was a founding
partner in 1994 of Global Internet Access (GIA) one of the biggest
Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country.
1998 the founding partners sold there business to USKO LTD.
Currently a director and major shareholder of Interprise (PTY)
Ltd, an Internet service provider focusing on the SOHO and SME
markets. Has been involved in Backpack Africa for 6 years.
Greg Sloan: -
UK and French Franchise Holder: - 33 years old and joined us in
September 2001. He matriculated in 1986 from Michaelhouse School
in Natal, after which he studied architecture at Wits Technikon.
He then took his skills overseas where he travelled extensively
throughout Europe and worked in both France and the United
Kingdom. On his return to South Africa he involved himself in the
His experience gives him extensive insight into the finer workings
of Backpacker Lodges and Budget Tour Companies. He will be
instrumental in the launching of Backpack Africa into the French
and UK markets over the next 6 months.
George Nel: -
Operations and call centre manager: - 69 years old and has the
following qualifications; a B. Sc. Eng degree from Wits
University, Government Certificate of Competency (Works), is a
Registered Professional Engineer and has a Master in Business
Leadership Degree from University of South Africa.
His past experience which is applicable to the management position
at BPA are; General and Project Management 1958 to 1980 with
Phosphate Development Corporation one of the IDC companies, Group
Managing Director of H Alers Hankey, a Protea Holdings Group
Company with 11 branches and International offices, a Director of
the Project Management Company in the Murray and Roberts Group,
four years in Botswana as Business consultant adviser to the FAP
programme and has extensive private and government contacts within
the tourism and business industry in Botswana.
He is currently involved with the day to day running of the
business, office administration and the development and management
of the online call centre.
Matthias Dürr: -
Travel Consultant for the online call centre and Data Entry
specialist: - 39 years old and matriculated end of 1980. In 1981
he did military service and completed basics and a junior
leadership course. In 1981, he was promoted to Lieutenant in SWA
Sec 203 Bn.
From January 1983 to August 1984 he was involved in job training
with the Department of Nature Conservation, South West Africa.
From September 1984 to December 1984 he travelled to Europe on a
travel educational. From January 1985 to July 1994 he did an
electrical apprenticeship with ELWIRA and in house training with
Digital Equipment Corporation in Munich, Germany.
From August 1994 to March 1995 he undertook educational travel in
Europe and over landed from Nairobi to Johannesburg. From April
1995 to March 1996 he was employed as a lodge manager for Rockey
Street Backpackers, Johannesburg and from April 1996 to December
1996 assistance in the set-up of a game lodge south of Khutse Game
From January 1997 to March 2000 he managed Explorers Club Lodge
& Safaris, Johannesburg and purchased the company in April
2000. He relocated the business to Africa's Zoo Lodge Backpackers
where it was incorporated from March 2001 to November 2001 and
assisted with the running of the Backpack Africa call centre.
Presently he is employed by Backpack Africa in the above capacity.
Carol Nel: -
Company accountant and booking system accounting administrator: -
37 years old and matriculated from Redhill High School in 1981.
She started with Deloittes, Haskins and Sells as an auditor. In
1984 she started with L & C Steinmuller in Rivonia as the
general bookkeeper and stayed with the company for 4 years. At
this stage she was responsible for the general accounting and
office administration, carrying the books through to the Trail
In February 1987 she started her own bookkeeping practice and did
the books for Sunninghill Pre-Primary School and Gobal Systems cc.
Gobal systems was renamed Global Technologies cc and in 1996
Global Technologies cc became Global Internet Access (PTY) LTD,
which was one of the major IT success stories in South Africa.
Here she was responsible for the accounts department and carried
the books through to trial balance as well as the accounting
system development and integration.
She left the company in 1998 and is now the bookkeeper for
Backpack Africa Internet cc and Backpack Africa Publishing cc. She
is responsible for the bookkeeping, accounts, office admin and the
integration of the booking engine accounting and data integration
into the existing BPA accounting software.
Philip Hanson: -
Programmer and Systems Architect: - 32 years old, Philip
matriculated in 1987. He was awarded a BA Psychology Degree at
Potchefstroom University in 1990, and completed an Honours degree
in Psychology in 1994 through UNISA, having studied part-time.
After Military Service, Philip joined FirstRand Bank Ltd (then
First National Bank), and worked for them for 7 and a half years.
Philip began working in the Human Resources Division of the Bank,
then moved into Internal Auditing to gain broader business
exposure. He qualified as a Certified Internal Auditor by passing
all four examination papers at first sitting at the IIA Board of
Regents' (based in the USA) exams.
He also was top of the class in Wits Business School's Management
Advancement Programme in 1997. In the latter part of Philip's
banking career, he worked in the Card and Electronic Banking
Division, and then finally was seconded to an E-commerce project
team. At the end of 1999, he was approached by Unibase Solutions
to join them as a Project Manager, and has worked for Unibase
Solutions since early in 2000.
He is an experienced project manager, and also programs
extensively in Universe Basic, HTML (including CSS and DHTML),
has a good working knowledge of Unix (SCO flavour) and Linux. He
is currently the head programmer and technical guru that maintains
and develops the back end of the site.
Robin Stoker: -
Management: - 20 years old, Robin matriculated from Crawford
College in Lonehill, South Africa in 2000.
finished his Bachelor of Information Systems in the first quarter
of 2003 and has been working for Independant Minds since Dec 2002.
interests lie in systems development, networking, and security and
has begun to gain experience in fields such as image editing,
PHP, MySQL, and CSS. At the moment he is performing website server
maintenance, and front-end website design.
studying he did some freelance work as well, developing back-ends
for various websites using the lethal combination of Linux,
Apache, MySQL, and PHP (otherwise known as LAMP).
The initial technology deployed was static HTML which was
developed in-house, but from inception we had the dream of a
“database driven” site, that incorporated all our business
value propositions. This requirement came to fruition in March
2000 when we entered into a technology joint venture with UNIBASE
was agreed that UNIBASE would provide the technology to drive the
various booking engines, databases and servers according to the
BPA specifications and in return UNIBASE would enjoy a percentage
of the proceeds that are generated through the website.
The site runs on a Linux (Red Hat flavour) web server. The core
functionality for the booking process is provided by Universe
Basic programs, interacting with the Universe Mutlivalue Database
(provided by IBM).
The web development toolkit which allows for this is called pSygn,
which is marketed by Global Technology in South Africa, and
abroad. pSygn allows for stateless connections with the server,
but each contact with the server establishes a session, which
remains intact until the browser is closed, or the base URL is
The session caters for the carrying of permanent session
variables, without the need for repetitive file writes by the web
developer. Developers have access to these variables to write away
to the database, or to display in the html output, at any stage
during the session.
pSygn allows for a particularly powerful combination of
client-side scripting and server-side basic programs
be populated by pre-page Universe subroutines for the purpose of
client-side validations and form element population.
that in all instances, web page objects are built "on the
fly", and there are no html files to be found on the web
server for pure pSygn sites.
In order to improve search engine rankings, we have used Universe
sub routines to write 'hard copy' web pages to the web server at
key process events in the "interactive" environment.
example, as a vendor updates his data on the database, we use a
Universe subroutine (together with a small Perl script) to ensure
that an html file is updated/written to the web server.
This helps the Search Engine robots to pick up the site contents.
This means that the html pages stay in sync with the Universe
Database, and most/all hyperlinks redirect users into a sessioned
pSygn environment from where bookings can take place.
Continuous software development will ensure that we remain
among the leaders in the field of internet travel and related
products. Through our strategic partnership with GLOBAL
TECHNOLOGIES and UNIBASE SOLUTIONS and the daily interaction we
have with the travel markets, we will ensure that our integration
into existing and future systems remains a priority.
The entire staff and management at Backpack Africa are committed
to these goals and ensuring that they become reality.
AFRICA’S CURRENT TRAVEL PORTALS: -