In Uganda there is a small rainforest under pressure near Kampala. The Mukono area is around 1600 hectares. Our own company, Mabira Forest lodge has been developed in this rainforest. The resort can accommodate 50 guests. It has a restaurant and a small swimming pool overlooking the pristine nature. We have targeted a growing group of travellers, tourists, and businessmen and women. People with a conscience who want to enjoy the full potential of a tropical destination without having a negative impact on the people and the planet. This has worked; the lodge still welcomes many tourists every year.
The community in Mukono consists of around 25.000 people. It is a mix of different tribes. They live from agriculture, handicrafts, tree felling and entrepreneurship. Mabira Forest Lodge became also a flywheel for ecological, early circular, social and economic development in the region. It was the driver of transformation to a new economy. We built a new ecosystem in cooperation with many different stakeholders. This was based on a shared vision for the area, our common ground.
The flywheel for integrated transformation became a model we called ‘COOLRegion’. We developed this with Wageningen UR in NL, Forest Trends USA, Ashoka and Kampala University in Uganda. The World Bank noticed the progress we had made in Uganda and invited us to present the lodge and COOLRegion in Washington DC.
When we started in January 2004 all that was there was a draft plan, a possible location and 3 companies who believed in the opportunities. Half a year later we had the 1,5 mln. Euro investment capital, a PSI subsidy, the concession agreement on the land, a team and the building had started. The lodge is open since May 2007 and received a growing number of tourists from all over the world. We had the ecological, social and economic impact of the lodge and COOLRegion measured. On all levels the results were above expectations. 100% Zomer took up the role of sustainable business, financial and innovation director in the consortium. 100% Zomer also guided a team of 50 people in Uganda and the Netherlands.
When: January 2004- December 2007
Who: the companies 100% Zomer BV, Gyelloba VOF and Alam Group ltd. Uganda and a private informal Dutch company became shareholders in the joint African Awakening company ltd. that owned Mabira Forest lodge. Also we had a group of small private holders of certificates at the start. We purchased their certificates in 2007, just before the lodge opened.
Why: timing was right in Uganda. The availability of the concession for Mabira Forest Reserve was unique. Uganda took up an early adaptor role in Africa concerning CO2 policy and forestry protection. Tourism was growing in Uganda.
100% Zomer wrote the business plan including the financial prospects.
100% Zomer gained the personal trust of an informal investor and acquired informal investment capital of 1,5 mln. Euro.
100% Zomer, Gyelloba VOF and partners developed a model for integrated sustainable transformation of a region. This was called COOLRegion. The model was first used in Uganda and later in Surinam and Costa Rica.
The consortium succeeded in the transformation to a more balanced sustainable economy in the surrounding region of the lodge. The region became more collaborative and social and environmentally just and financially sound.
Nature tourism and conservation projects were developed with local stakeholders
The consortium had overcome many difficulties in Uganda.
We managed to get the lodge opened in May 2007, after a delay of 6 months.
We succeeded to get more than 50 different stakeholder groups involved and developed with them the transformation vision and plans.
100% Zomer gained the trust of the PSI subsidy group, when we implemented the plans. They helped us in good and bad times.
100% Zomer succeeded in managing a team of 50 people, with 10 different nationalities or tribal backgrounds. The education level varied from analphabetic to academic professionals.
100% Zomer led sessions with several different stakeholders who worked together to create a common vision for the near future of the Mukono region. Several workshops were held and large-scale research in the area was done.
100% Zomer negotiated and made deals with various large and smaller tour operators in and outside Uganda.
100% Zomer sold her shares to the informal investor in December 2007. The reason was that 100% Zomer planned for new investments in Surinam.