Airbnb announced the launch of #GetBehindTheMask, a host-led movement to support communities struggling with the impact of Covid-19. In partnership with the Western Cape government’s Maskathon and Afrika Tikkun.

The initiative will kickstart with an Online Experience on how to create and make face masks, alongside a call to action from the host community to challenge others to make masks. There will be a relief fund to support tourism entrepreneurs who participated in the Airbnb Africa Academy, and those hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the call for all South Africans to wear a protective face mask, not all have access to them and tourism has come to a standstill. Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder, CEO and Head of Community, said the spirit and creativity of the Airbnb community never fail to inspire, even in times of crisis.

“We want to support this commitment from hosts on Airbnb and champion the tourism entrepreneurs who help vulnerable communities and who will help lead South Africa through this crisis,” he said.

At the forefront of the campaign is Tamryn, a host on Airbnb since 2013, who will demonstrate creative face mask making skills through her Online Experience. Participants will learn how to cut, design and assemble masks with colourful patterns. Tamryn will donate two masks to communities in South Africa most in need when a person books.

There will be several Experiences each week, and Airbnb will offer coupons to the first 100 people who book so they can enjoy the experience for free. For those who can’t join, Tamryn will share an easy to follow, ready-made mask pattern and instructions.

The face mask idea was also inspired by hosts like Maria from Khayelitsha who participated in the Airbnb Africa Academy Programme. Despite not being able to host due to lockdown, Maria is committed to helping the most vulnerable by calling on all other hosts in South Africa to “get behind the mask” and to start sewing.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said cloth masks, when combined with the golden rules of hygiene and physical distancing, can help to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.

“We welcome Airbnb’s Get Behind the Mask initiative to make more masks available to communities in the province, and their support of the Maskathon campaign. The global Covid-19 pandemic has seen a major outpouring of kindness and support, and we thank all of those, like Airbnb, who are working to help us flatten the curve and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.”

Relief fund

To further support the #GetBehindTheMask campaign, the relief fund will provide much-needed funding to tourism entrepreneurs who participated in the Airbnb Africa Academy, a development programme focused on giving under-represented and under-resourced communities the tools and resources they need to participate in tourism.

Airbnb will contact eligible participants and invite them to apply for a relief grant of up to R25,000 which, if successful, will be awarded within four weeks. Since the launch of Airbnb Africa Academy in 2017, 220 people have been trained, with 70 percent of these being women who are micro-entrepreneurs. These funds hope to help more people realise their entrepreneurial ambitions*.

“The Airbnb Africa Academy is a programme that very much aligns with what we stand for and it’s fantastic to see how Airbnb is committed to supporting these hosts who have little to no income right now,” said Alef Meulenbergi, CEO of Afrika Tikkun.

Visit here for more information.

This article was first published by IOL on the 26th May 2020. 

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