Staff Spotlight: Stuart Fairbairns

General Manager


Stuart grew up all on the Isle of Mull, Scotland where he trained as a marine wildlife guide. Moved to South Africa in 2007 where a degree in Fine Art was completed and thereafter a deep dive into the corporate world as Integration and Business Strategist.

As an avid traveler, with a passion for people and conservation Stuart and his wife Stacey decided to free themselves from the corporate world and head back toward conservation, joining African Impact in 2014. Stuart and Stacey now run the Kruger location projects, Dumela Lodge, the project base as well as support projects at a wildlife rehabilitation center a little further north.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Having traveled a great deal it is tough to find the 'favorite'. Spending time traveling through North India by train was incredible, slow but incredible :) Getting deeply involved with the culture, experiencing the incredible foods, the people and their stories, the respect for animals (especially cows of course), the religion, the passion for community and the abundance of vibrant colours, spices and music.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I was fortunate to have a great deal of experience of people, cultures, and conservation through my upbringing. My parents started the first Whale and Dolphin conservation society in the United Kingdom, which runs to this day. African Impact has afforded me the opportunity to establish solid projects and business concepts that make solid and important impacts, providing better opportunities and living situations for people and whole communities whilst simultaneously protecting and learning about important wildlife species and their habitats.

I have met and worked with people from the world over with such a variety of experience, qualifications and each has inspired me more than I can share. I am passionate about business strategy, turning my skills toward the betterment of situations for people, wildlife and the environment is incredible. My abilities have grown and developed substantially as a result. I shall be forever grateful for the opportunities this role has afforded me.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There are so may it is hard to list. I am so proud of how many have returned to us and have found their lives passion through the experience. There are Doctors of scientist and anthropology in the world today that have come about as a result of experiencing our projects, the exposure to your passionate teams. We have had storybooks published by participants who are now well recognised; the books begin to put together as part of, and in order to support our projects through essential donations and awareness.

We have had those that are now married with children - who met at our location. Without a doubt, every single person that joins us firstly doe snot want to leave and secondly is likely to return. I love hearing this and do on a daily basis.

We are African Impact, the impact we make is on people and communities. It is on wildlife and habitats/the environment and just as importantly it is on our volunteers and interns - we set out to build informed ambassadors for conservation across the board whilst giving each and every one of them a life-changing experience. I am proud to say we more than succeed at this.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

The ones I established and run :) I am biased, however!

I have visited many of the projects and locations over the years; however, I would love to see the projects in Zanzibar and Kenya.

I have visited Zanzibar previously and it is an incredible place. The projects there are marine-focused, which I have an affinity to with my past. Kenya has a special place in my heart. For me, visiting other locations is an opportunity to learn from one another.

For us, to see first-hand how things are run and learn what we can. We do have a good communication structure in African Impact, but there is nothing like being face to face and working together, to have the cultural exchange and to benefit from one anther's experience and expertise.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are unique as African Impact largely due to our values. Be it toward our projects and our teams. I am extremely proud to be a part of this organisation; the impact of the work is palpable and blows my mind daily.

We have consistent support sessions with our team members to ensure everyone is on track, not only with their role expectations and performance but further in their personal lives. We are only as good and as strong as the people we work with. One pillar is only as strong as the one next to it and we must all share the load.

African Impact is an inclusive and powerful operation. The attention to detail when it comes to the volunteer and interns experience, as well as the imapct they make through the work they do, is scrutinised through grueling processes before the establishment of a project and throughout its running. We have meticulous monitoring and evaluation to ensure we are consistently achieving what we set out to and more.

I believe in numbers, I believe in measurement; one of the things we do well measures the work we do, ourselves, our projects and our overall success.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Well, as mentioned above, measurement and evaluation, passion form the roots up and the canopy down. Communication and fair support.

I believe that people make things happen, be it staff running the projects, or the project base, to the volunteers and interns that join us. We must look after everyone, ensure everyone is well-motivated, is passionate through doing what they want to be doing, to be moving forward and for the impact that we collectively make to be such that the progressions of Africa's needs are supported and moving forward. Further to this, I use the analogy that finding a need in Africa is like finding a grain of sand on a beach; whilst that may sound sad, it is not: it is ripe with opportunity.

What we do need to do, and as African Impact we do well, is selecting the right grains of sand to collect and work on ensuring that we are as effective as possible. We cannot solve all issues; however, we can take the focus areas that we do and ensure we are successful. As previously mentioned, this is done through stringent measuring and evaluation.