Imvelo - Chairman’s Award: Lorraine Jenks - founder Hotelstuff/Greenstuff

She began challenging suppliers at the first whiff of what is today known as greenwashing - querying their claims and demanding transparency around a product’s lifecycle. Few took her seriously and all she ever got was a concilliatory pat on the head and labeled ‘Our Little Green Queen.’

For years, Lorraine struggled to source alternative suppliers when going out to tender. She also saw scores of new suppliers, all frustrated in their efforts to start relationships with hospitality buyers. In 2001, with first-hand insight into the pain points of most procurement departments, Lorraine saw the gap for an all-encompassing procurement directory for those wanting to trade with hospitality establishments.

The internet was still in its infancy, but with the help of her son, Lorraine set about creating an online platform that would facilitate targeted introductions - and that is how Hotelstuff was born. Today, many procurement managers turn to the Hotelstuff directory in its entirety as their primary supplier list and access point to the supply chain.

Her initial quest for eco-wise procurement and local education around sustainability may have been premature, but Lorraine’s passion never waned. Then when Al Gore’s documentary ‘An inconvenient Truth’ received mainstream attention - and made joe Public a little uncomfortable about his daily habits and indulgent lifestyle - these issues were brought to the fore.

Despite South Afrrca’s proud history of conservation and natural heritage, it traditionally lagged behind and was weak in terms of commitment to greening. However, observing the post-Gore buzz, Lorraine saw that people were finally ready to listen to her and were more accepting of the idea that the planet was in trouble. Determined to make sustainability sexy and suppliers and operators more aware of their footprints, in 2008 at Hostex, she launched Greenstuff - an online directory showcasing greener alternatives and encouraging responsible environmental standards.

With her business success came personal and professional growth Lorraine has become a highly respected and sought after motivational speaker on the local tourism, hospitality and sustainability conference circuit. Topics close to her heart remain hospitality procurement, greening the supply chain, eco-labelling and sustainable tourism as a whole. She also collaborates with industry experts on staff training, green certification, carbon offset schemes and waste and water management.

She has completed the National Cleaner Production training at the CSIR, under the auspices of the UN Environmental Protection Agency, covering the criteria for eco-labelling across various product ranges and environmentally responsible manufacturing requirements for the EU Flower Green Rating.

Hotelstuff continues to grow and the uptake of Greenstuff has been phenomenal, with the websites experiencing growth rates of 5000%. Financially, the directories cover their overheads only with no commissions or referral fees awarded. To view and contact those listed in the directories is free of charge. Her mock hotels at trade shows are sponsored where possible and the balance is absorbed personally by Lorraine, who sees the financial hits as just a part of her continued work in this realm and her commitment to make a real difference to our endangered planet.