As an engineer by training with a deep passion to bring about change and empower people, Niki has developed and implemented sustainable tourism models, strategies and plans for southern African towns and communities. She is recognized within the tourism industry as a leader in research and programme development and for her ability to stimulate collaboration amongst tourism stakeholders. She works close to the coal face to identify blockages and barriers which prevent people from adopting change. Her key strengths lie in working across complex structures and translating complex concepts into simple, practical and implementable actions, thus bringing sustainable tourism principles to grassroots levels.

In 2019, Niki joined the Africa!Ignite team to support our strategic growth and expansion plans in the capacity of Strategic Project Manager. She was appointed CEO in January 2020, taking over from Wilna Botha, who has stepped down to pursue her own consulting career. Previously, she co-founded the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme, a non-profit company established with the specific aim of assisting tourism businesses across South Africa to implement Sustainable Tourism (the STPP is a UNWTO Affiliate Member). Between 2016 and 2018, Niki was appointed as the General Manager of the N3 Gateway Tourism Association, and in 2019, she focussed on project implementation for the N3GTA (one of South Africa’s furthest reaching non-national tourism associations). She has previously served on the board of the N12 Treasure Route Association and was their acting CEO. She was the editor of an annual handbook on Sustainable Tourism (volumes 1 to 7), and the author of the RETOSA Sustainable Tourism Handbook, published in October 2017. She is an International Labour Organisation trainer on their SCORE programme for tourism as well as an SMME business development facilitator for SEED. She previously served on the Curriculum Review Committee of the University of Johannesburg and completed her PhD in 2017. Niki currently holds a Research Fellowship at Rhodes University’s Environmental Learning and Research Centre.

Niki started her career as a Civil and Structural Engineer. Upon completing her MBA (Cum Laude) in 2000, she became a Project and Programme Manager for international companies, including Absa, Barclays, Standard Bank and Liberty Life, running mass scale programmes stretching over 11 African Countries. Her passion for sustainability, environmental best practice and social preservation led her to leave her 18-year corporate career to pursue sustainability in tourism.

Niki holds a B.Engineering Degree from Stellenbosch University, a Graduate Diploma in Engineering from WITS, an Masters in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from UCT and a Doctorate from UNISA. She is currently also a Research Fellow at Rhodes University.


Lynn joined Africa!Ignite as Education Programmes Manager in July 2019, when she has redefined our storytelling and early literacy programmes. She evaluated our Storytelling projects in previous years and therefore brought high-level knowledge of our work, together with her experience of early childhood development, early literacy, and an understanding of the context of the rural communities and schools in which Africa!Ignite works.

From 1997 Lynn’s work at The Farmer Support Group based at UKZN focused on initiatives in KZN to improve the lives of rural communities and in particular subsistence farmers and crafters by promoting rural knowledge systems, sustainable and organic farming and craftwork.  As director of the Family Literacy Project for eight years, Lynn led projects that included adult and early literacy, community libraries, and C-IMCI (maternal and child health, HIV and AIDs, nutrition).  From 2014 to 2019 Lynn worked for Wordworks in Cape Town as Manager of the Every Word Counts programme (for birth to 5 years), where she was responsible for growing the programme, training and mentoring 35 organisations in the Eastern and Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Lynn holds a Master’s Degree in Agriculture (Food Security) as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Resource Management.


Bongiwe has worked in rural tourism and craft development across KwaZulu-Natal for over ten years. Bongiwe is the Programme Leader for the WOWZULU Sustainable Tourism project, an initiative of Africa!Ignite and our partners such as the South African Jobs Fund, Durban Tourism, TKZN and The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the National Department of Tourism. She also manages the craft pillar which supports over 1000 crafters who produce high-end products for the local tourist and international markets.

Prior to working for Africa!Ignite, Bongiwe worked for a TV production company where she was involved in the production of environmental and cultural documentary programmes. In 2011, she was selected by Junior Chamber International as one of Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World, and in 2017 she was a finalist in the KwaZulu-Natal Young Achiever Awards. She has presented at various South African national forums, conferences and radio and television platforms on rural enterprise development, craft and sustainable tourism.

Bongiwe holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management from MANCOSA and a National Diploma in Video Technology from the Durban University of Technology.


Phatho started working at Africa!Ignite as a casual packer in 2010. In 2011 he moved to WOWZULU at King Shaka International Airport as a sales assistant and later worked at the WOWZULU Marketplace at Ohlange Institute in Inanda. He joined the head office team as Craft Production Co-ordinator, working with more than a 1000 rural crafters across KwaZulu-Natal, managing craft logistics, providing training and mentoring on product development and ensuring quality and stock control. Phatho regularly showcases Africa!Ignite’s high-end craft at national exhibitions and tourism events, such as the Next 20 Show in Cape Town, SARCDA and The Sustainability Village at the Tourism Indaba.

Phatho is currently studying towards a Higher Certificate in Project Management at Boston City Campus & Business College and has an End-user computer certificate.


Max Malunga is the project coordinator for enterprise development and advisory projects working mainly with projects that support new ventures and emerging SMMEs in establishing their operations, capacity building and compliance. Max joined Africa!Ignite in 2010 for a few months as a facilitator in the Champion Programme for youth living in Durban South Basin. In 2013 Max returned to Africa!Ignite as the Telling Stories of KwaZulu-Natal project mentor and logistic coordinator, working with four teams of storytellers across the province. He also mentored our youth Change Agents and was part of the My Health is in My Hands training team. More recently Max mentored literacy facilitators working in schools in Mbazwana, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Max has extensive experience working with municipal librarians, as well as youth in the areas of creative arts and culture. In 2004, Max helped to establish the Molweni Youth Centre in 1000 Hills, a project funded by the Valley Trust and Sam Charitable Trust and in 2008, he spent three months in London working for the EC1 Music Project working with a diverse group of musicians and young artists.

Max holds an International Diploma in Youth Work (ABC UK) – 2004.


Dipo was born and raised at Ntuzuma in Durban and attended schools in Inanda and the Phungashe area on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal where he matriculated in 2009. Dipo joined Africa ignite in 2013 as Team Leader in southern KwaZulu-Natal in our Telling stories of KwaZulu-Natal project. In 2019 he moved to Durban to work with the head office Education team and most recently has been leading the team in Mbazwana in uMkhanyakude district. He is our longest serving Storytelling and Early Literacy Team Leader and continues to build on his knowledge and skills of storytelling and early literacy by attending workshops and training courses.

As a young man Dipo dreamt of becoming a schoolteacher but his dreams were put on hold as he had to work in his family’s business. At Africa!Ignite his dream of working with children has been revived.


Lisa holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. As Africa!Ignite’s Accounts Administrator Lisa’s role includes all-round responsibility for our financial operations. She has accumulated over 15 years’ experience in various finance roles which has given her the technical skills and expertise needed in her current position. Working at Africa!Ignite has been a fulfilling time for her, as she feels privileged to be part of an organisation which is committed to rural development through enterprise and education. She is part of a team that has shown a willingness to persevere, with empathy for the people, and especially the women, of KwaZulu-Natal.