“I come from humble means, but I’ve always been a hustler,” says Bheki Dube, the 25-year-old owner of Mainstreet Walks, and Curiocity Backpackers.

Raised in the culturally-rich suburbs of Yeoville and Troyville, Dube is a Jozi boy through-andthrough. In 2009, when the Maboneng Precinct opened a kilometer from his home, he created a business out of showing visitors the markets, art hubs and pubs that make the inner city special.

Now, his walking tour company, Mainstreet Walks, is a Maboneng staple. About the same time, Dube, a photographer by training, took a life-changing trip around South Africa to shoot backpacker lodges, and their guests. By the time the trip was over, he realised that he wanted to open a backpackers of his own.

“If I could change people’s perceptions during a three-hour tour, imagine the lasting impact of hosting them for a few days.” In 2013, Curiocity Backpackers welcomed its first guests in Maboneng, and now hosts around 2 500 international guests every month.

Last year the Curiocity brand expanded to Durban, and will soon offer short-term apartment rentals in Johannesburg.

Dube has his sights set on locations across the continent, but he’s taking things slow for now. “It’s taken a lot to come so far,” he jokes. “Seven years of hard work to get me all the way here, a kilometer from home.”

|The hardest lesson I ever learnt is to sign contracts before doing anything else.|

Categories: Influencers