What started as a company offering tent repairs to local Botswana safari escapes rapidly grew to include camping equipment for hire, the design and manufacture of upholstery for the aviation and tourism industry, canvas luggage, mosquito nets and even bespoke products such as elephant saddles, ponchos and lodge tents. We are also the only registered company in Botswana to supply wind socks.
In 1986 Kalahari Kanvas was established by John and Elaine Dugmore who had a ‘gut feeling’ that there was a growing need for a tent repair service on the edge of the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Immediately and wholeheartedly supported by the safari industry, Kalahari Kanvas began work with a single industrial sewing machine and an enormous pile of tents in need of repair!
It wasn’t long before the quickly expanding Kalahari Kanvas had to move out of its first workshop – a garage space that had been given to them by ‘Hunters Africa’ on the condition its tents were the first to be repaired – into a mobile home, ‘The Bus’, which had been lovingly railed and towed from Harare, Zimbabwe!
‘The Bus’ lived on another piece of borrowed land, and was soon surrounded by make shift work-spaces crafted from gum poles and iron, with the sewing machines chained to the ground – the only form of security needed at the time.
But sheer demand eventually drove Kalahari Kanvas – now affectionately called ‘KK’ - into a larger workshop space, a tin shed, and with the extra space available KK extended its offerings to include ‘camping equipment hire’, which was popular with local and tourists alike.
Continued success meant that in 1989 KK was able to open an upholstery department which to this day continues to grow, doing everything from furniture to aeroplane seats!
The establishment of a small retail outlet in 1990 meant that KK had to move home again, taking root in its current and easily accessible location across the road from the Maun airport. This large space has meant that KK has been able to carry on growing, from tent repairs and upholstery, into the manufacturing and crafting quality canvas and metal works goods.
Today, backed by support from the Botswana Government, KK prides itself on being a company that manufactures quality bespoke products designed to meet customer’s needs - from elephant saddles, to dining-tents in the delta, and blanket lined ponchos, the product list is endless!
Through constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of customer's needs, and meeting those needs with quality products, Kalahari Kanvas has remained the leader in its field, with an international customer base and projects and products in countries as far afield as the UK, USA and even Oman.
Throughout its growth KK has put the development of local staff at the epicentre of its expansion. The company has grown from having a staff of two to having a staff of 50 during really busy periods, and in-house promotions ensure that local staff are given both training and support.
The Kalahari Kanvas story continues to grow alongside the developments and needs of the safari industry and the safari holiday makers, but just as the products are long-lasting, ageless, and top quality so is the company.