Quoting the official history of Habonim Great Britain, "a certain mystique surrounded the question of who founded the Habonim Movement but there is little doubt that the major personality behind the idea was Wellesley Aron". Aron acknowledges that he could not have succeeded without Chaim Lipshitz, who organized the first model Gedud (group), and Norman Lourie, whose enthusiasm helped generate other volunteer leaders. Lourie went on to found Habonim South Africa. Encouraged by them, Aron wrote the outline for the first Handbook and by April 1929 their organization was given the name Habonim (Builders). This was followed the next month, May 1929, by the first group, "Gedud Trumpeldor" led by Lipschitz. This date is acknowledged as the official founding date of Habonim.
According to Aron, he modeled Habonim after Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts. The idea soon spread to other English-speaking countries and ex-colonies where Jews resided. In 1930, Norman Lourie founded Habonim Southern Africa, with the first camp taking place at Parys in 1931. Initially the idea was a "Jewish Youth Cultural Movement" for children aged between 12 and 18. Unlike other organizations in other countries, the movement was initially intended to be of a non-Zionist (non-political) kind.