SWAA opens SA Chapter

President of SWAA (Spa & Wellness Association of Africa), Elaine Okeke-Martin, has announced the opening of a SWAA Chapter in South Africa, with Jacoline Wentzel appointed executive committee chair.

The SWAA entity was established in 2010 and has chapters in Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia and Nigeria. It has a pipeline into many other African countries, such as Tunisia, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, among several others, and hopes to establish chapters there within the decade.

As to why she chose to open a chapter in South Africa, Okeke-Martin says: “South Africa is an important country and we actually could not postpone it any longer, to be honest. People have asked me over the years why SWAA wasn’t yet in South Africa? The reason was that SWAA needed to grow organically and seeing that South Africa already had its own national associations, it wasn’t as urgent compared to other African countries.

“However, South Africa´s presence in the SWAA coalition is now vital, coming on board at a crucial time too, as the association celebrates 10 years this July. I believe the SA SWAA Chapter will be able to collaborate with the existing local national organisations, while developing industry standards and education further. We also hope to gain from the SA Chapter through its sharing of information and protocols of what has worked for the domestic industry.”

The SA SWAA Chapter became operational on 15 May this year and taps into the Association’s mission is to make wellness accessible to all in Africa. Okeke-Martin continues: “SWAA brings together government agencies, spa and wellness operators, educators and professionals, to set and maintain industry standards, encourage education and the sharing of information, to provide invaluable networking opportunities and to create a platform for members to channel their voice.”

She points out that SWAA chapters have certain responsibilities to the Association. SWAA chapters must communicate with the Association; submit annual financial and activity reports; update changes in offices and contact information; and adhere to SWAA policies concerning chapter membership, meeting sponsorship, and management of funds.

Commenting on Jacoline Wentzel’s appointment, Okeke-Martin says: “I was officially introduced to Jacoline by Celeste Peters, who is a board advisor to SWAA’s board of directors on communication. Jacoline was identified as the strongest candidate to bring SA on board. She started her own spa distribution and consulting company in Cape Town, called The Spa Warehouse, which has grown into one of the leading distribution companies in South Africa, with exclusive rights to various up market spa ranges. With this vast knowledge, she is the right choice to start up a new SWAA Chapter for SA. Jacoline is extremely passionate about the spa and wellness industry.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SWAA has been hosting free educational seminars. Says Okeke-Martin: “The Association has never been this busy before, despite the fact that we had to postpone our annual conference until next year. When COVID-19 hit, hygiene became a huge focus and we started getting requests for documents and online education. We are still building the online education platform, which Isabel Roos of Isa Carstens Academy is heading up.”

In another move, SWAA has decided to make its memberships free for the whole of 2020 to celebrate its 10th anniversary on 7 July 2020 and to support professionals and businesses who have lost revenue and income due to the pandemic.

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