Rebranding a company that has existed for almost 15 years takes some serious considerations and let me tell you a bit more of the why….
Khaya started in 2005 when I moved to South Africa from the Netherlands and the idea came to me to assist international students to come to South Africa for internship and traineeship experiences. Khaya flourished in those early years as there was a real need for international students to find a support system in South Africa that helped them with all the practical needs they have when arriving in a new country. It is the pick up and welcoming, a sim card, a room and car to use and all these practical aspects of staying in a new place unfamiliar.
When in 2010 Khaya diversified into volunteering programs as well after seeing a need for people to have similar services when they came to Africa to volunteer their time without an educational angle but purely for personal reasons we added the word ‘volunteer’ to our brand. This helped us to be identified as a volunteer placement organization but at the same time created a challenge as there already is a ‘Kaya Volunteer’ in the UK doing similar things. So our unique identity was not optimal having a competitor with a name so close to ours.
Another aspect is the changing travel industry and the negative side of voluntourism as it is called by many. The stigmas of rich white kids holding little African kids for their Facebook posts or Instagram accounts are well known and covered by media in various countries. It doesn’t however do justice to the fact that there are many reputable organizations placing volunteers at projects that actually do make a difference. The fact that orphanage volunteering in Cambodia is hugely abused with children being the victim often doesn’t mean that an orphanage in Kenya does the same thing. The media however doesn’t discriminate in these cases and they keep it all in one big pile, claiming volunteering is damaging and unethical without involving all stakeholders and merely using individual examples as their norm.
The way they damage a form of traveling with this short sighted approach is obviously off charts to talk about but let me use that for another article in the future. The fact remains that the word ‘volunteering’ has a negative sound for many who are only going by what they read online or see on the news. It also doesn’t cover the actual experience anymore. To go and work on a wildlife reserve owned by wealthy people who really don’t need young foreigners to come and help them and donate financially and to call this ‘volunteering’ is in my opinion actually misleading. It implies they actually need help but realistically they are the one needing it least in my opinion.
So to change the name of our long standing brand that has proved itself successful with many individuals and school groups alike has different reasons. Unique identity is one but also to offer a more accurate and honest approach to what we offer and how we work. So ‘Go with Khaya, Travel Experiences’ is how we will be known from now on. A name still holding on the ‘Khaya’ (meaning home in kiSwahili and isiXhosa) of which we are very proud as we are that home away from home with our own projects, staff and accommodations. But also to allow for a more realistic description of what we actually offer, and those are unique Travel Experiences.
‘Whats in a name’ they say, well, a whole lot according to us and we are happy to present you and our long term supporters to a new Go with Khaya brand that will still offer volunteering programs and internship opportunities but also school group experiences and other travel experiences like our ‘Go Green’ projects we will be presenting in 2020 where we will offer unique experiences to learn and experience greener ways of living, farming, eating and building. We are excited for the future and we hope you are too.