BETTY Magessa and Michael Matera have a good story to tell.
They have excelled in their tourism career, were rewarded with promotion and are now living a happy life. They both work at Sasakwa, one of the world class luxurious lodges operated by Singita Grumeti in Tanzania.
Michael is head of the kitchen department and Betty heads the Spa department at the lodge which attracts highly paying clients mostly from overseas. Betty is proud to be the first Tanzanian Spa department manager at the lodge.
“I am the first Tanzanian to head the spa department at Sasakwa. The kitchen and spa departments were previously manned by expatriates,“ Betty told the ‘Daily News’ recently. Similarly, Michael is excited to be the head chef. “I was promoted to be the head chef in 2014 at Sabora lodge and in 2019 I was transferred to Sasakwa where I am also the head chef, supervising about 26 workers, “ Michael said.
Sobora is one of the lodges operated by Singita Grumeti Reserves, located within the wildlife-rich concession area bordering the world famous Serengeti National Park. Michael has risen from being just a cleaner to be the head chef.
The 38 year-old says his success comes as a result of hard working and training that he received inside and outside the country with the support of Singita Grumeti. Singita Grumeti Reserves is a conservation and eco-tourism company that has heavily invested in the tourism industry in Western Serengeti.
“I started working at Grumeti in 2003 as an environmental cleaner. I believed that hard working, discipline and determination would take me far, “ Michael who was born and bought up in one of the local villages located close to Grumeti concession areas said. “I have attended various courses in cooking in South Africa about eight times. I also had an opportunity to attend further training in Spain for two weeks, “Michael narrates.
Michael says he also emerged the overall winner of a cooking competition held in Tanzania several years ago. As it is the case for Michael, Betty says Singita Grumeti has greatly helped to transform her life as well making her to be where she is today.
Betty says she has been trained as a therapist specialist by trainers brought by Singita Grumeti to her work place. “Some of my trainers came from South Africa and Kenya. I now hold certificates that can enable me to work anywhere, inside and outside the country”, Betty who hails from the local village of Natta in Serengeti District, a few kilometers away from Sasakwa lodge said. “To me Grumeti is not only a job creator but also a college that trains its staff to meet the company’s expectations,” she added.
Betty secured employment at Grumeti Reserve in 2007 after completing a tourism course at a college in Mwanza. She admits that Grumeti Reserves as an investor has immensely helped to transform lives of local people by creating job opportunities and supporting local development in many ways.
“The presence of Grumeti has made a big difference in Natta village; People have built business premises like guest houses, restaurant houses and decent houses. Natta of today is not that Natta I knew when I was in primary school many years ago,” the 37 years old and a mother of two children said.
Betty says she is also happy that Singita Grumeti has been supporting education, water and health projects in the surrounding villages. “I know how Grumeti has supported construction of educational facilities at Natta secondary School. They have also built a police station and supported other projects in other nearby villages,” Betty further said.
Her words were also echoed by Michael who said: “Before the coming of the investor (Grumeti Reserves), there were problems of employment opportunities for the youths here. The investor has indeed changed the whole issue of development in our villages”.
Michael mentioned Singita school of cooking as an additional admirable achievements of the Singita Grumeti Reserve’s investment’s in the region. “Serengeti school of cooking admits eight youths from the neighbouring villages and they get employment at Singita Grumeti and other places after graduating “, Michael says.
Besides the remarkable progress they had attained in tourism career, they have made a lot of development at the family level as well as supporting family members on wide range of essential matters. They advised youths completing secondary education to study tourism course saying it has significant contribution to the country’s GDP.
Grumeti Reserves says it has created about 900 job opportunities from 175 million US dollars investment in Tanzania. Around 95 per cent of the Grumeti Reserve workers are Tanzanians. It is estimated that every single job supports eight people in rural Africa, according to the World Bank (WB).
As a result Grumeti Reserves is now seen as a role model investor who has immensely contributed to boost development activities in the Tanzanian wildlife- rich district of Serengeti in Mara Region.
“Grumeti Reserves is a huge and an exemplary investor that we have in Serengeti District. The investor is paying all taxes to the government as well supporting development matters in our communities “, Mr John Ng’oina , the former Serengeti district council chairman who is currently the councilor at Mbalibari ward in Serengeti said.
Mr Ng’oina further described Grumeti Reserves as a truly investor who has enabled Serengeti district to move forward in many ways. “Imagine the company is giving Serengeti district 200 million shillings every year, this is a substantial amount and has been doing so for many years ”, Mr Ng’oina who served as chairman in Serengeti district council for five different terms including the previous fourth phase government on CCM ticket said.
“The investor has also invested a lot on communities by supporting construction of modern public schools and offering scholarships to many bright need students. If we could have five investors like Grumeti Reserves, our district would have been one of the top developed districts in the country “, he added.
Current Serengeti District Council Chairman Mr Juma Porini the council said the 200 million shillings they get from Grumeti Reserves every year is injected into development projects, with provision of social services getting top priority.
“It is true that Grumeti Reserves has greatly contributed to transform lives of Serengeti citizens not only in the neighbouring villages but also in other areas of the district. And the government is earning huge revenue from the investor”, Mr Porini said.
Apart from Sasakwa and Sabora, other lodges run by the investor within the great Serengeti ecosystem are Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Singita Explore and Singita Serengeti House and the remote Lamai triangle which offers Singita Mara River Tented Camp.
The lodge provides guests with access to the 350,000- acre private Grumeti Reserve in the western corridor of Serengeti. They attract highly paying clients including celebrities, including a former US President. Grumeti Reserves also supports activities designed to protect and conserve the Serengeti –eco system for the present and the future generations through Grumeti Fund.
Early this month (September), Grumeti Fund in partnership with the government of Tanzania through Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism relocated nine rhinos under an ambitious project that seeks to increase the population of the critically endangered species in Serengeti.
This was the largest ever single movement of rhino into Tanzania, thanks to the fruitful partnerships by the government and Grumeti Fund. Sasakwa Lodge has been named by Travel -Leisure Magazine of the United States the best hotel in the world several times, making Tanzania’s tourism industry to shine globally.
Grumeti Fund is a nonprofit making organisation that manages 350,000 acres in the Western Serengeti in partnership with the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA). The area forms a buffer zone to the Serengeti National Park has seen significant increase of wild animals like elephants and buffalo just to a mention a few. How