By Ayana Jones
Tapiwa Kingsley Ndlovu is the co-founder and CEO of Kumba Africa, an online travel agency that offers travelers authentic experiences — tours and hikes with local guides, safaris, home stays — across the continent.
Ndlovu decided to start the platform after he spent six months in Stellenbosch University’s LaunchLab incubator program in South Africa. He visited the country in 2017 while working on his first business venture, Kasoma Africa, a now defunct website where people read, wrote and d their African stories.
Ndlovu encountered issues when he sought to experience Cape Town in a local, authentic way and reflected on what it must be like for people traveling to Africa from the United States or other countries.
“So I then decided to build a platform where we aim to connect travelers to authentic travel experiences across Africa … with the twist that whenever someone books something on our platform, whatever they book has some sort of authentic feel to it — whether it’s interacting with a local, having a homemade dinner — something besides just going to a famous landmark,” said Ndlovu, who is 25 and now lives in Philadelphia.
Ndlovu is tapping into the travel sector at a time when Africa’s tourism industry is poised for significant growth. Tourism is expected to contribute $269 billion to the continent and create 29 million new jobs by 2026, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Ndlovu often travels throughout Africa to build partnerships with hotels, tour guides, tour operators and other key suppliers. So far, he has partnered with more than 180 local tour guides and tour operating companies in 14 African countries — Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“We wanted to make sure that we had both the web and the Android mobile app working before we said to the world here we are, but people know about us and have been using our product,” Ndlovu said.
This article originally appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune.