Her name means “people’s victory” and Nikki Meyer seems to sow success wherever she goes. Having lived in the Kruger National Park for 23 years, Nikki and her husband Gerrit joined the team of Rhino Post Safari Lodge 12 years ago, prior to its opening. In the early days, she felt that they were looked upon as something of a Cinderella by the other concessions. Rhino Post was not just a financial investment by people with spare cash and little insider knowledge of the industry, but a project of passion for people committed to conservation and empowerment. Initiated by those who had experience working on the ground in lodges, Nikki describes how Rhino Post has grown from a small player amongst the private concessions, to the “belle of the ball”, having been granted the prestigious “Concession of the Year Award” for the Kruger National Park, and “Business Partner of the Year” for the whole of South African National Parks. These awards recognise Rhino Post Safari Lodge and Rhino Walking Safaris’ outstanding record in conservation audits and exceptional year on year growth as a business partner and financial contributor to SANParks.
Nikki is not only a dedicated lodge manager, she is passionate about community development. Andlane Beauty World is a community initiative supported by Nikki and the company, from humble beginnings to a blossoming business, and their fragrant Rooibos infused products may be appreciated in the Rhino Post Lodge luxurious bathrooms. “Andlane Beauty World is in the process of negotiating a contract to supply soaps for the whole of the Kruger Park” Nikki proudly shares. “Distribution has always been a problem for the little guy” she explains. “For now we have integrated Andlane’s delivery into the transport systems of the Park” Nikki explains, a move which is both environmentally sensitive and expedient. “We have been working together with SANParks and Resource Africa to investigate other solutions for the many small businesses and co-operatives outside the park.”
The work does not end there, and Nikki has already started helping another group of unemployed women to develop a sewing project to make the staff uniforms for the Isibindi and other lodges in the area. A stickler for quality, she will promote this business only when the uniforms being made are of an equal or better quality than the current central urban suppliers. One has the sense that she treats her colleagues in the development projects with respect rather than patronising grace, which is the key to their mutual collaboration.
And for her own escape, Nikki retreats by spending a night or two at the Sleepout Decks, from which heights she does not ponder the company’s success, but where she remembers that it is the precious heritage of the natural park and it’s wildlife and people that make this such an incredible place.
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