Airbnb Academy South Africa

Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy

Empowering the next generation of tourism entrepreneurs
We believe the South African economy can be genuinely inclusive and sustainable, and we want to be a good partner to the government on this work, to help more South Africans to participate in tourism, particularly historically disadvantaged people.

Platforms like Airbnb give anyone, anywhere the ability to earn and increasingly disperse the benefits of tourism beyond tourism hotspots to more communities. The Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy is a skills development programme targeted predominantly at women and youth in township and rural areas to help them be successful on the Airbnb platform and benefit from tourism.

We also recognize that much work still needs to be done to distribute the benefits of tourism equally. We call on the public and private sectors to work together to address the complex and multifaceted issue that is inclusivity in South Africa and together, to find ways to lower the barriers to entry to ensure that all South Africans can benefit from the tourism economy.

Impact to date

500+ individuals trained from disadvantaged and rural communities

70% women

Over $230k additional income earned

by participants through Airbnb

36 communities involved

across the country

Over 1800 five-star reviews

Homes & Experiences

70+ free Wifi hotspots

in townships & rural areas

40+ hosts funded during COVID19 pandemic

through the Airbnb Academy Fund

The story so far

Since 2017, we have delivered 24 in-person training bootcamps reaching over 500 women and youth from 36 underserved communities across South Africa. Our programme is delivered in partnership with public and private organisations, including municipalities, academic institutions and development organisations to jointly address systemic barriers to entry and distribute the benefits of tourism more equally.
The Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy has been deployed in more than 36 communities around South Africa, including Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KZN. Partners have included Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape Government, Waterberg District Municipality (Limpopo), Limpopo Women in Tourism, Lapalala Wilderness School, Africa!Ignite, Phambano and ABCD Concepts.
Airbnb Academy
Airbnb Academy
Airbnb Academy
Airbnb Academy
Airbnb Academy
Airbnb Academy
Airbnb Academy

“Airbnb’s work in the Waterberg as part of the District Development Model is a best-in-class example of how innovative Public-Private Partnerships can work to drive more inclusive economic growth. The partnership with Airbnb is also assisting the Just Energy Transition, helping to train and empower locals, especially women and youth, to benefit from a sustainable tourism industry and biodiversity economy.”

Fish Mahlalela, Deputy Minister of Tourism, South Africa
The Academy was recognised in 2020 as best practice in Poverty Alleviation Through Tourism by the World Tourism Alliance, World Bank Group, and the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC).
Airbnb Academy South Africa

Mhinti Pato, Academy Alumna, Cape Town, South Africa

"The Academy didn’t only transform my life, but it went further in transforming people around me and my community."
Airbnb Academy

Sma, Academy Alumni from Waterberg, Limpopo

“I decided to sign up for the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy because I felt like women are left behind and the Academy was going to expose me to opportunities. The Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy has validated the work that I do, it has also given me the confidence to go out there and sell my story.”
Airbnb Academy

Busi Msimango, Home and Experience host in Soweto

“Media has portrayed Soweto as unstable and dangerous, but we actually have a ‘can-do’ attitude. We have to find ways to get by. We find solace in music and community and in being hospitable and making sure that everyone around us is safe.”

How it works

Airbnb partners with local organizations to craft an immersive education program that introduces participants to the potential of tourism entrepreneurship—including hosting on Airbnb. In South Africa, the skills development program focuses on women and youth in township and rural communities. The Academy gives them the skills, practical tools and support they need to use technology to access and succeed on the Airbnb platform as tourism entrepreneurs.

We partner with the following types of organisations to recruit prospective participants and/or deliver the Academy content:

Non-profit organisations
Academic institutions
Development banks
Governments & local governments
Small businesses and small business centres
Destination Marketing Organizations

To learn more about partnering with the Academy, please reach out to

To see upcoming Academy opportunities in the South Africa, please visit the South Africa Academy Hub.

Our partners

South Africa partner logos