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317. Dinosaur tracks bringing tourists to Lesotho

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Coop Name: Subeng Dinosaur Youth Co-operative
City: Hasimone N° of Members: 12
Country: Lesotho Year of formation: 2007
About this coop:

Sebeng Dinosaur Co-operative is a youth co-operative in North East Lesotho focused on tourism and hadicraft sales.

They started their activities in 2007 and now have around twelve members – mainly young people but also some older people – most of whom are from the local community of Hasimone in Leribe District, North East Lesotho. They focus on tourism, in particular on encouraging people to visit the dinosaur footprints they have found near their community.

They provide guided tours of the footprints and produce handicrafts to sell, such as moulds of the dinosaur footprints, jewelry and artwork. Recently, they have managed to get road signs notifying drivers on the main road of the existence of the footprints and this has greatly increased the number of people coming to visit them and therefore the income that they get from the entrance fees. They have also built a rondavel (in this case a small one room structure made of stone with grass thatching) which provides a central point to people visiting the site – where members can also display their handicrafts and hold their meetings.

Any money they get from the entrance fees they save and reinvest in the co-operative. However they do make some personal income through selling their handicrafts through the co-operative. Whilst this is a small amount (about 4 GBP per week), this does contribute to their basic needs such as food and buying more supplies to make more handicrafts.

Interestingly, all members believe that it takes time for a co-operative to grow and hope that in time the co-operative will provide them with a substantial income. Most members visit the site on a daily basis – they go to await visitors who they can take on a tour, make handicrafts and generally keep the site clean and tidy. This is because most of the members are unemployed and have no chance of permanent work; they have the time to be at the site and see it as ‘what they do’; it is like a job, and their way to help develop themselves and their lives when there are very few options open to them in terms of finding a livelihood.

Furthermore, members also reported that being a member of the co-operative keeps them focused and gives them something constructive to do with their day – they say that if the co-operative was not there they would have nothing to do with their time and would be more likely to get involved with ‘risky activities’ such as taking drugs or drinking.
This story is from the book by Sally Hartley, “A New Space for a New Generation: The Rise of Co-operatives Amongst Young People in Africa” published by The Co-operative College in 2011.

Author of this story
Sally Hartley
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