Noel de Villiers

Ashoka Fellow
South Africa
Fellow Since 2006


This profile was prepared when Noel de Villiers was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Through his organization, Open Africa, Noel is building a pan-African network of urban and rural tourism routes that are locally owned and managed, but marketed internationally. The vision behind this network is to create economic and social opportunities by harnessing the growing potential of tourism in Africa for marginalized communities. He is putting control of this potential into the hands of local communities by working with them to identify, promote, and manage their own cultural and natural assets. These efforts create new businesses, preserve cultural heritage, and foster community pride of civic cooperation and leadership in a new generation.
Noel’s model encourages marginalized local communities to form their own businesses to serve the tourism market, thereby affording them entry to a previously unreachable economic system. Through creative online marketing and industry partnerships, these enterprises are brought to a new level of quality, marketability and potential. The shared effort of developing and sustaining not just individual enterprises but linked tourist routes leads to infrastructure development, increased political participation, and links to the international community. Open Africa also creates a platform for community leaders to champion a new path of growth and development for their communities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You