Just imagine planning to travel to your dream country or region but lack a proper planned budget or have no enough savings, what do you do? Introducing to you Safari Wallet, a product owned by an African Digital Travel Marketing Company called Kwetu Africa that seeks to help local travellers to afford to buy their dream holidays as easily as possible by paying in instalments.
Safari Wallet is a product that started operating in the year 2017, it was founded by two people, Iddy John and Patrick Musa. In an Interview with Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) Iddy takes us through their journey from the establishment to the current state of their business and why they chose to focus more on the local market rather than the international market. They are located at Biashara Complex, Mwinyijuma Road in Mwananyamala, Dar es Salaam.
The Inspiration Behind
Iddy says “I have always been passionate about tourism regardless of what I studied back in the day maybe it was because I was born in Ngorongoro one of the most visited conservation area and another reason being the way my father used to take us to 10 different national parks per year, I believe my love for tourism blossomed from there on.”
“What sparked the idea of having a tour company was the Mount Kilimanjaro trekking trips we took with my British friends, but starting a tour company at that time was challenging for I already had competition with over 300 active working local tour companies yet I knew I had digital marketing skills that would help me along the way, so I took the risk and started Kwetu Africa company in 2012, later a product was born out of it called Safari Wallet.” adds Iddy
The Attended Problem
Iddy observed the way 80% of tour companies opening in Tanzania do not even have a 20% market share of their own for they only depend on a certain foreign agency to send them customers. Safari Wallet’s focus was to ensure their services speak to the locals from Tanzania to East Africa and Africa as well. It is their mission to see Africans travelling with affordable prices to their dream holidays and still enjoy the luxury that comes with the environment of such places.
The Startup Investment
“I remember we had to use our own savings at the beginning but the biggest challenge was time, we invested our time to understand the tourism industry to acquire knowledge of the market and how were going to tap into it successfully, so we had two years of survey and research.”
Iddy tells us the first investment was time, followed by knowledge then personal savings and the fourth investment was the funds acquired from the Tony Lumelu Foundation and Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) the fifth investment was talking and understanding customers by having a total 800 interviews so that they can build something their customers wanted based on their needs.
How Safari Wallet Works
The products has two side the partner’s side and the customer’s side. With Partners they do not only deal with tour operators, they invite in local guides hotel, tour agencies insurance agencies as well as flying agencies.
When the customers want to travel they sign up, creates an account and then book for a trip, six months before. Information to be filled include, where you intend to travel to, the home country you are from, date in which you intend to travel and your budget for the trip.
Iddy says the mode of payment benefits the customers since one can pay in instalment until few days before the actual trip. “The is a notion where some tour companies may not treat local tourist the same as International tourist because of the amount of money they are paying for, Safari Wallet stands in the middle ensuring that’s being serviced pre, which is before the customer has booked for an experience during the time the customer is actually travelling and post were the customer is actually done with the experience.”
The Target Customers and Market Reach
“Our local targeted customers range from the age of 25–37 as well as people who are aged from 40–50, these two type of age groups come with different types of taste so basically the bigger market is actually the age I mentioned earlier the youth, so we are actually focus on them more”
Iddy goes further by telling us on how they reach their customers which is through Search Engine Optimization, as well as the use of social media platforms such Instagram and Facebook.
The Eco-System Positioning
Safari Wallet differs from the rest travelling agency because it also localizes prices that fits with Tanzanian context.
Iddy says, “Another difference is when a customer cancels his or her trip most travelling agency take 25% of the payment that was already made but we encourage you to either reschedule the date or give the trip to somebody else if it is impossible then we get to take 3% of the payment made. We guarantee our customer’s experience is to their expectations and beyond as well as making sure their freedom of traveling is guaranteed at all time without worrying about insurance or anything else.”
“Meeting People, forming a strong team that are passionate about their work and understand the vision, the knowledge we have acquired from different places like the Tonylumelu Foundation and Seedspace.”
Other achievements is getting their first customer, getting trusted with other agencies and organizations by partnering with them such as UNDP and HDIF. They also had the chance to work with UNDP in addressing challenges facing the local tourism market for more than six months.
Safari wallet participated in the European Union Africa journey post crisis competition that was running in Estonia, had 300 startups that participated and Safari Wallet came up number 5, it helped them network, be recognized and received the resources they needed for their product. They received grant from Seedspace in partner with Ndoto Hub under UNDP and Netherlands Embassy this fostered a well-built relationship.
What to Improve
Iddy says, “With any business timing is key, so sometimes you might introduce a product when the market is still a virgin for the particular market you are looking for, I would now say it not a regret that I started earlier for it gave us ample time to study the market from the ground, we are now looking forward to get investors, build a team with strong people and partnerships.”
The Covid-19 Impact
“Covid-19 a blessing in disguise it came in a way that it reminded people the value of local tourism, tourism in Tanzania highly depends on the international market the outbreak of covid-19 closed all the doors and people had to start learning to invest in the local market, for us it was a time to start communicating about local tourism in which everyone was in sync.” Says Iddy
Safari Wallet sees a good future of Safari Wallet, in 4 to 5 years they’ll be able to promote Africa tourism, by having a culture of Africans travelling to Africa with affordable prices while still receiving the luxury that comes with the experiences, Iddy has a strong believe in this after researching the tourism market in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.
A Word of Advice
Iddy tells us the government should invest in promoting Tourism for Tanzanians, run events that seek to encourage Tanzanians to travel domestically as well as invest in technology by having a data base of tourism activities taking place over the years
For further details about Safari Wallet visit Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) you tube channel by scanning the QR Code to this article. Like, share and subscribe for more insightful stories, one can also access the online conversation about Safari Wallet across all social media platforms using the hash tag #ImpactTechTZ
To read more about our reports featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report