The Leopard Spot A tourism start-up by 6 Mozambicans in Milange

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By Paulo pintrassone
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“I believe that Milange can be a place that people want to see and stay in again. And I believe that my family and I can help make that happen. Milange used to have the finest tea plantations in Mozambique ‘Cha Oriental’ – but they were all destroyed during the civil war. A thousand people used to work there and now, over thirty years on, hundreds of them are still unemployed. It was also a tourist hotspot then, while now it is just a border town struggling to survive. But it is a pretty border town set in really pretty countryside; and tourism could create a lot of much-needed jobs. For as long as I can remember, mixed in with the wild flowers and shrubs and straggling tea bushes on the hillsides, there were roses and jasmines and other plants left over from the tea managers’ gardens. In 2006, a Dutch NGO called Teran Foundation began to develop a hillside of what used to be Oriental Tea’s recreation area.

 

In 2007, I started to work there as a builder, restoring some of the ruined buildings and collecting thousands of bricks trapped in the undergrowth to make an aqueduct from a reservoir in a mountain stream 600 meters higher up. And I became the Milange manager for Teran Foundation’s community projects. On a terraced hill slope that used to be covered with tea, we found a huge ruined swimming pool and the ruins of a dozen houses and villas. I worked with a lot of international volunteers who used to say The Leopard Spot was a magical place. And quite a lot of those volunteers have come back to visit over the years. Together, we built a dam, planted trees, protected the wildlife, formed local Associations for underprivileged women and helped supply local schools. TERAN foundation.

 

 

My name is Pintrassone Mailosse Naissone, and for the next ten years, I oversaw the project. A terraced garden was created, the swimming pool was restored (but not plumbed), and the restaurant-bar building and a reception hut were constructed.

 

 

 

And we built a bread oven and restored and built water tanks, dug out ruined houses and planted a bamboo plantation and an avenue of trees. And each year, my family and I farmed some of the project’s land. Because my brother and sister-in-law died in 2008, we adopted his 8 children. So, together with our own 8 children, we are a really big family. Over the years, Rita, my wife, and I have managed to send them all to school. And now, 4 of them have joined the ranks of Milange’s hopeful unemployed youth. Paulino, one of our sons, is studying to be a nurse in Quelimane. But because there aren’t enough jobs in Milange, 3 of our daughters: Cristina, Luisa, and Gan, are unemployed and so is Fernando. So what we need is a family business – something Rita and me and 4 of our grown-up children can help run. Something to cover all the school for the younger ones and medical costs for us all. Something the younger ones can look forward to joining as the business grows and they grow up and finish school.

 

 

 

 

 

The Leopard Spot is that something: a resort with a bar and restaurant space, a beautiful garden, a big swimming pool, lots of space for parking, all surrounded by nature, but also within easy access of the town. 2 years ago, as a reward for my 10 years of hard work as the manager of Teran Foundation’s community projects in Milange, my son, Paulino, and I were given the Leopard Spot site with its pool and restaurant space and its half-finished buildings and 25 hectares of land sloping down to the river. To own the place where I used to work is like a dream come true. But like in a dream, everything is just out of my reach.

 

Since I was gifted the project site in 2018, EDM has brought National Grid electricity to within only 330m from our bar-to-be. Not having electricity was always a big problem. And FIPAG have brought piped water to within 120 m of our swimming pool. And the 200km of terrible road to Mocuba, which used to take between 7 and 10 hours, has been totally upgraded making Mocuba just 2 to 3 hours away. Mocuba is a crossroads town, and it has a big, wealthy (mostly Indian) community which could help fill our restaurant at the weekends and on holidays. Milange is in Zambézia Province and its hilly landscape is lush and green; and our land is fertile and we get quite a bit of rain so everything grows like crazy. So we are kept busy all year round clearing the roads and cutting grass to stop Nature from reclaiming The Leopard Spot.

 

 

What we see is this: without a start-up fund to bring electricity and water to the project and to finish and furnish and stock the bar and restaurant, we won’t be able to really make our dream come true. But with a start-up fund, we can open and restore the rest of the project bit by bit. We have uncovered 5 well-placed ruined houses which, in the long run, we will do-up to rent out to tourists. Meanwhile, when we open, we’ll advertise on the internet (thanks to Paulino who knows about that side of things). None of that computer stuff is for me; but me, Fernando, and the girls can handle phone reservations and walk-in guests. Cristina will be the receptionist: because she knows a bit about computers and she is very good with people. And we will advertise with flyers in English and Portuguese at the Border Post. And we’ll advertise via the local radio and by word-of-mouth. There is nowhere else like The Leopard Spot in Milange: nowhere for couples and friends and families to come out and relax and swim and enjoy the countryside.

 

When I was a boy, tourists from Malawi used to drive to Milange for lunch at the weekends. They’d come for the Mozambican prawns and wine. At night there would be music coming from the bars and people with fancy clothes dancing. I believe it will be like that again soon – only, this time round, it won’t just be for them: it will be for all of us: black and white.”

By Pintrassone Mailosse Naissone

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some background and facts:

TANZANIA The Leopard Spot Resort is on the Mozambican side of the border with Malawi. ZAMBIA It is 3km from the District Capital of Milange (population 619,275)’ in Zambézia Province. The site is also 3km from the historic Fortaleza Dom Carlos and has a spectacular panoramic view of Mount Mulanje (2,400 m). ZIMBABWE Milange is 75km from Blantyre and its international airport (BLZ) MOZAMBIQUE And it is 200km from Quelimane (UEL domestic airport), the coastal capital of Zambézia Province, 600km from Nampula (APL international airport), capital of the North of Mozambique, 325 km from Tete (TET domestic airport), gateway to Zimbabwe, and 200km from Mocuba.

 

(domestic airstrip), a wealthy junction town on the road between Joahnnesburg, Maputo and Nampula, Pemba and Dar es Salaam.

The Leopard Spot is surrounded by Eucalyptus trees which not only naturally scent and disinfect every breath, but also have aromatherapy properties. Visitors can swim in our pool or take mountain stream baths. And they can take The Mount Tumbini walking trails.

 

 

 

 

Infrastructure

Water: Access to the new FIPAG water network will be made available by running 120 m of our pipes from the nearest FIPAG water tank. The FIPAG will be metered and paid for monthly Electricity: Grid electricity from EDM will be connected by us supplying 330m of cable and poles. Electricity to The Leopard Spot will then be metered Gas: Bottled gas will be used to operate the kitchen of the resort’s restaurant. Sewage: We have made 2 septic tanks and will add another. Internet: mCel, Vodacom and Movitel all provide mobile phone coverage, and internet to cellphone and USB modems. The Leopard Spot needs to provide free Wifi as an added attraction to its clientele. The Political climate in Mozambique After ending the civil war in 1992 the political climate was stable for over 20 years. Then there were some renewed outbreaks of violence until a new Peace Accord was signed in 2018 between the Frelimo Government and Renamo, the main opposition party. However, since October 2017, insurgents in Cabo Delgado Province have caused 2,800 deaths and a humanitarian crisis with 800,000+ internally displaced persons. The al-shabaab insurgents seized the port of Mocimboa da Praia and held it for one year until joint Government and Rwandan troops finally re-took the town on August 8th 2021. So there is hope again and more SADC troops will assist from now on. With multi-billion-dollar contracts for oil and liquid gas extraction in Cabo Delgado Province e.g. with Exon and Total, Mozambique needs all the help it can get to preserve peace in our country. Mozambique currently has 3 different main kinds of tourists. And that is also the potential case for Milange. Tourists to The Leopard Spot would be mainly: Continental African tourist mostly from Malawi, but with some South Africans and some tourists from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. Since all the neighboring countries are former British colonies and English speaking their inhabitants see Mozambique with its Portuguese language, Mediterranean-style food, wines and customs as exotic. International tourists, mostly from Europe but also some from the USA, China, and Brasil, Local tourists: the wealthy local community, mostly Indian and expatriates and NGO’s

 

 

“Hi, I am Rita’s and Pintrassone’s son, Paulino Naissone, I was sponsored by Teran Foundation and I stayed at its community hotel on the other side of the country for 3 years, and then worked with them for another 4 years. During that time , I also studied electrical engineering for 18 months in Nacala, completed a training course in PR with The British Council in Maputo, trained as a film festival technician and in 2017 became CTO of Fim do Caminho Film Festival. plumber and my Dad and I plumbed the swimming pool at The Leopard Spot in 2019.

In 2020, when we realized we couldn’t pay for any further improvements there, I moved to Quelimane, where I am training to be a nurse. I speak and write fluent Chechewa, Emakhua, Portuguese and English.  With Teran Foundation, I learned a lot about social responsibility and sustainable destination tourism.

So I will develop them at The Leopard Spot by:

 

  • Involving the local community and tourists in creating awareness for theenvironment and our indigenous Chechewan culture;
  • Marketing The Leopard Spot via social media

 

  • Enabling long term societal prosperity for the local community;

 

  • Exercising caution with respect to our environmental impact;
  • And taking an active role in the protection and remediation of our global ecosystem (protecting the flora and fauna, forming a team of youths to controlwildfires etc);
  • working to enhance societal benefits and reduce environmental impacts.

And I will always be a part of The Leopard Spot in the future. I worked on it for two years with my Dad and I am proud of it and all he has done there. So I will give it all my holidays and spare time from wherever I may be working. I will handle its internet bookings, help with the paperwork for work contracts and social security for the family, and to file an annual tax return (until Cristina and others can handle the tax) And I will set up and manage a website for the project and handle its social media.”

 

At The Leopard Spot we will target the following groups of tourists:

 

  • Nature-lovers
  • Travelers in search of relaxation on a peaceful and quiet location
  • Travelers in search of spiritual & physical well-being, offering our pool, mountain stream baths, hill walks, nature tours, clean air, a resort built mainly from natural materials, & organically-grown food etc.
  • bird watchers
  • Campers wanting a beautiful, safe place to camp
  • Travelers interested in African culture

 

 

 

 

 

  • Travelers passing through Milange on their way to other Mozambican destinations
  • Travelers passing through Milange on the way to Malawi (including to renew their visas)
  • Travelers interested in historic ruins (because the Fortaleza Dom Carlos a 3km from us);
  • Hikers

 

Competition for The Leopard Spot

There is very little competition in the area of Milange. There is Residencial Tumbine, a 2-star hotel, and 1-star Pension Fernadinho, but then other hotels and resorts listed for Milange are actually across the border in Mulanje, in Malawi. The old Hotel Reis, which used to be the main hotel and restaurant in town, closed down 5 years ago when the owner died. Accommodation: To start with, The Leopard Spot will only offer 2 twin rooms, and camping facilities to go with its pool, gardens, bar, restaurant and a dance floor. Souvenirs: Milange District is home to many wood carvers and craftsmen and we will have a gift shop featuring all the local handicrafts.

 

The Bar & Restaurant We will serve local food with a short menu based on traditional Mozambican favourites such as grilled prawns, chicken Zambéziano (cooked with garlic and coconut milk) fish, rice, chima, potato chips and salad. Since some of our clients will be Moslem, our food will be Halal. And we’ll make sure we have non-alcoholic cocktails as well as beers and spirits in the bar. My Mum, is a great cook and so are Luisa and Gan. We are 18 in the family so they are used to cooking for lots of people and that has been the best restaurant-training they could have. Cristina will be the waitress and handle reception and Fernando will be the barman and help Cristina to serve. When there is a rush, Gan will be a waitress too. For further tourist training, Teran Foundation will ask a Silver Service volunteer to come out and stay at The Leopard Spot for a month to teach the family how to be the best in the business. Our family has thought so much about how to get The Leopard Spot going. And we’ve dreamed about it. And we have worked so hard there. I trained as a plumber so we could fix the swimming pool: it had no drainage system anymore. And we have tried to get the local government to facilitate water and electricity, but three years have gone by and we are no nearer to being able to open the resort even though we are so close to being able to do that, so we are reaching out for a helping hand. Below there is a detailed budget that I made with Teran Foundation, and we hope you’ll join our family in our quest to launch The Leopard Spot.

 

The Leopard Spot is a project that has the full support of the District Government of Milange. Pintrassone says, “Because tens of thousands of dollars (from Teran Foundation) and many years of landscaping and development have already been invested in the Leopard Spot, within 8 months, we can open a fully-fledged resort for a relatively low cost and our family (with 16 kids) can run it. And because there are strict currency restrictions in Mozambique, any funding can go via its NL or Mozambican account. There will be regular updates on our project website and 100% financial transparency and an audited account will be sent to the donors within 10 weeks of the end of the Start-up.

 

Our team couldn’t be closer: we are a family, and we have all had to help us survive over the past decades. Just putting food on the table for 18 has been a daily challenge. Getting school uniforms and books, shoes, and registration fees for all of us has been the triumph of Pintrassone and Rita. I believe in The Leopard Spot. And I know it can work. It has all the ingredients for success: we have a wonderful place in an ideal location with tourists passing through our border town every day. And we have a great project, with no real competition, and a team that can’t wait to start work. I got lucky, I got sponsored: and next year, I will get a good job in the Health Service. But there are no jobs in Milange for my brothers and sisters. Yet, with a jump start they can all have enjoyable and dignified jobs and the younger ones can join when they finish school; because the project can and will grow. 5 of the ruined houses on the 25ha site have the potential to create another 14 guest rooms. p.s. The resort is called The Leopard Spot because there are leopards living on the hill above us. And back in 2009, a lion came down to drink from the swimming pool one evening and nearly scared the guard and two workers who were staying there out of their wits!” By Paulino Naissone

Budget for The Leopard Spot Start-up: 26,404.68 USD

Contact:

Tel: +258 84 029 5555

Email:Paulinonaissone875@icloud.com

Account number:

M-Pesa: +258 84 029 5555

BCI: 19536236610001

Titular: Paulino Naissone paquete

PayPal: Paulinonaissone10@gmail.com