Ever thought about learning kitesurfing and helping the less privileged people at the same time? In the amazing and undiscovered kite spot of Vilanculos, with its shallow water, white sandy beaches and lovely local people this feel-good-combination is possible.
VilanCool Beach Resort and Kite School offers you unforgettable holidays, must-see kite spots and the feeling of helping the local community. Here is the story of how this social project was born, the challenges we faced and how we became the first non-profit affiliated IKO Center in Mozambique.
What do we mean by “K-Aid-Surfing”?
VilanCool is the only non-profit project in Mozambique, which provides employment, education and health care services to the team and their families through a Kite Center. The main idea is that only locals manage this non-profit Kite Center and NGO Beach Resort and that they are responsible for their own salary, health care, education and living standards - supported remotely and sometimes onsite by my wife and I.
Over the last few years, we set up a team of 6 people and taught them everything - from kitesurfing to how to run a tourist business and improve their own managerial skills. Every dollar we made with kitesurfing lessons, rentals and accommodation has been 100% re-invested into the project to provide the families of our team better living standards such as houses that stand against the cyclones and top education for a promising future. This his how you can do #kaidsurfing...
Falling in love with Vilanculos
I am Tom, a passionate kitesurfer, and my wife Astrid, a medical assistant from Germany, both living in Switzerland. By coincidence, we went on holiday to Vilanculos, Mozambique in 2011. Vilanculos is famous for its Natural Reserve Park of Bazaruto Islands and going there by boat on a day-trip is an unforgettable experience.
Over there, we met a smart local guy named Jeff, a former skipper on a diving boat, who dreamed of having his own business. We started helping him set up a boat excursion trip company to bring tourists to the islands. Fortunately, and based on Jeff´s outstanding business skills, it grew very fast. Soon enough, we needed to purchase land for office space since we kept getting more and more boats.
How this Social Project was born?
In 2013, we bought a 3,000 square meters piece of land at the wonderful beach of Vilanculos - too big for a small boat office. So, what to do with it? At this time I was kitesurfing in Egypt and remembered the strong wind at the coast of Vilanculos and the shallow water of the bay. We really had fallen in love with Vilanculos and its incredibly nice people. I then asked myself: "Why not opening a Kitesurfing Center in Vilanculos?”. Moreover, my wife and I wanted to help the local community and thus the idea was born to set up a Water Sport Center in Vilanculos with the aim that only locals should manage it. VilanCool was born.
First Kitesurfing School in Mozambique
Opening a kitesurfing school in Mozambique has been a positive and challenging experience. For instance, the first thing I had to organize was the kite equipment. However, there is no shop in the next 5,000 km from Vilanculos for any of these. In 2014, I had no choice but to start carrying kite equipment in my private luggage on monthly flights down to Vilanculos.
The next challenge was to get a local kite instructor. A local worker, Nercio, was helping on the construction of the building and had always been very smart and curious to learn the sport.
The main challenge working with locals was to gain a common understanding of how things should work and determine how their skills could be best used. For example, once I asked them to clean one of the showers and all they did was using a plain brush. I was a bit unsettled and worried that it was not cleaned according to European standards. Then, I realized that no one in my team even had a bathroom at home...They just did not know how to do it! At first, Nercio’s skills were very basic reading/writing and fishing. He had never heard of kitesurfing before and never had the chance to try it. Hence, I started to teach him both kitesurfing and English.
At last, we finished building the Kite School, some Beach Houses and the Beach Bar in April of 2015. We celebrated our opening with a Kite Safari and did the first downwinder from the Island Margarugue to our kite school. This kite safari takes around 1 hour to get back from the island to the shore after having an amazing boat trip - accompanied by Dolphins - to the island and an unforgettable snorkeling experience at the house reef and a barbecue at the beach.
Why becoming an affiliated IKO Center?
Vilanculos is, in general, a very safe spot and the Kite School was running well, but we wanted to strive for the best and match international quality standards..
At the top of the list, it is a question of safety for all participants. I am convinced that higher standards for a kite school in Mozambique exceeds the expectations of clients and encourages wider word-of-mouth. This, in turn, attracts more clients and generates more support for the project. Since clients in Vilanculos are coming from all over the world, I was convinced that standards and principles from an International Kiteboarding Organisation fit best.
We began the affiliation process in 2016 and made sure we met all the requirements to become an IKO Center. For us, it has been challenging to find insurance for the school as well as a qualified IKO Instructors.
The first Mozambican qualified IKO Instructor
After only 3 years, Nercio’s kitesurfing skills were outstanding and his English perfect. We decided to go to Portugal to do the Assistant Instructor Training Course (AITC) and the Instructor Training Course (ITC). In May 2018, Nercio became a qualified IKO Kite Instructor Level 1 and I became an Assistant Kite Instructor.
Being an affiliated IKO Center helps us convince clients to learn kitesurfing at our school because the kiter certification that students receive after the lesson is valid worldwide. Since we became an IKO Center, we got more clients for kitesurfing lessons and with the additional money, we even managed to send Nercio´s son to an international school. I kindly invite you to read the reviews about Nercio, the first qualified IKO Instructor of Mozambique, on his IKO Memberpage. If you want to hear more stories from Nercio after a kite session at the bar come to learn kitesurfing at VilanCool.
Learning “K-Aid-Surfing” at VilanCool
Now, you see how it is possible to learn kitesurfing and do something good for less privileged people at the same time. We are all very proud of our project and how it developed over the last 5 years to become the 1st affiliated IKO Center in Mozambique.
Celebrating our first year as an affiliated IKO Center, we offer all IKO Members a 10% discount on our accommodations and kite lessons. Become an IKO Member now (it’s free and easy!), and don’t wait to book your kite lessons or your beach house directly on the kite spot and enjoy our new Kite’n’Night Package.
Get 10% discount on our beach accommodations!
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Seeing you soon at our little paradise.
Tom, Astrid, Nercio & Team