From Industry to Individual - Help Us Protect the Legacy of the Desert Academy

Wolwedans has the development of Namibia and the wellbeing of its people at heart. We are committed to support young Namibians by equipping them with the skills necessary to make a meaningful contribution to society through their work, while enabling them to provide for themselves and their families.

Getting young Namibians off the street and into adequately paid jobs through vocational training is our objective. This requires a combination of

- Industry demand - a ‘given’ considering the rapid growth of the sector and the chronic shortage of skilled labour

- A commercial engine/driver (Wolwedans)

- Suitable trainees, qualified trainers, adequate facilities

- and of course, Sufficient funds.

Our focus is on hospitality training, as we have been invested in this industry for some 25 years. We run two accredited private vocational training centres: the Wolwedans Desert Academy (DA) in the Namib-Rand Nature Reserve. (including the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education (21NICE) in Windhoek. The Foundation also supports the Waldorf School Windhoek, in various ways.)

Only 10% of graduates can be absorbed into the Wolwedans fold upon completion of their Level 3 qualification. Hence 90% of trainees are recruited into other hospitality enterprises, both nationally and internationally. So whilst Desert Academy serves our own needs, the excercise actually serves Namibia’s hospitality sector as a whole.

The “Living Classroom” approach best describes our ethos of training. It means that trainees at our institutions are exposed to a ‘real-world’ working environment at our collection of lodges and camps from the onset.

The reality is, that acquiring industry relevant practical experience is a major stumbling block within the Namibian VET sector. Fortunately at Wolwedans every trainee automatically gains work experience, adequately preparing them for the job market.

Since inception in 2007, some 300 young Namibians obtained a NTA-vetted qualification from the Wolwedans programme (incl. 21NICE). Our dual approach - practical facilitation going hand in hand with theorized learning - is our key success factor and reflects in consistent pass rates exceeding 90%.

Wolwedans Desert Academy has stood the test of time and remains committed to providing young and talented Namibians with high quality training and accredited qualifications which meet the needs of the hospitality industry.

Continuing this tradition of excellence, the Wolwedans Foundation has heeded the call by the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) to provide demand-led training in the field of Hospitality.

Unlike most academic institutions which happily cram 500 students into a lecture room teaching theory but ignoring exposure to practical experience, vocational training - if done properly - comes at a significant cost. This is evident with the operating budget of our programme.



For the past three years, Wolwedans was fortunate to have the Social Security Commission Development Fund (SSC-DF) on board, providing supplementary funding. This mutually beneficial partnership came to a contractual end as of February 2019 and conseqently new funding models have to be explored.

The annual intake at DA comprises 16 Level 2 trainees. The annual operating budget of Desert Academy (Level 2 & 3 with some 42 trainess enrolled) runs in the region of  NAD 4.200.000. The unit cost per trainee for a 30 month Level 2 & 3 Qualification is approximately NAD 265.000.



50-60% of the training expenses are covered by the Wolwedans Foundation (which generates funds through a guest levy collection) and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) with funds provided from the VET Training Levy. The remaining 50% of the cost present a funding gap we cant shoulder on our own. Here we need support from all available avenues.

Operational expenses are one side of the coin. The flip side is capital expenditure, primarlity for infrastructure development, seeing that training can’t happen under a tree and students need a roof over heir heads.

Until today Wolwedans, with its own resources and through interest-bearing loans has carried all the costs associated with infrastructure development to run its VTC’s. Wouldn’t you agree that it is nonsensical to pay interest to deliver non-profit education?

Financial challenges aside, the results have been rewarding indeed and motivate us to expand the programme with additional and relevant qualifications like Facility Maintenance,  Horticulture and Commercial Coockery Level 4 & 5, which requires investment into brick and mortar.

If we continue at the pace of the last ten years, it will take until 2030 and beyond to develop the training infrastructure required at Wolwedans to cater to our expansion vision and extend the programme offering. Namibia can’t afford to wait that long. The need is now, and the funding load needs to be shared.



We therefore invite participation from both the local and international community as well as institutional and corporate sectors to support this tried and tested private sector education drive.

Financial assistance in the form of bursaries, grants, sponsorships and interest-free loans are a priority at this stage. They will help to grow this vocational training initiative and its pursuit to prepare Namibian youth for meaningful employment.

Are you, as a responsible private or corporate citizen  the missing link education needs to thrive? If you are, and have the means to put shoulder to the wheel, we look forward to engaging you at your earliest convenience.

Hard to believe, that this is what it takes. Bearing in mind, that the whole exercise is not for profit or gain. We invite your participation and support, so please find a downloadable budget below.