Tourism in Kenya is ranked as the second largest foreign exchange earner. This coupled by the overall need to travel by average local citizens, corporates as well as foreigners means that there is a huge market for businesses in this industry. Meet Charity Muthoni one of the entrepreneurs tapping into this market through her company- Adventure 360, a Kenyan tours and travel company as she narrates to our writer ESTHER KIRAGU on how she has managed to crack the nut and stay relevant in the industry.
Charity Muthoni had been pursuing a totally different career when the travel bug bit, leading into a business venture on the same. The medical engineering graduate expounds, “On completing my high school education, I got an admission to the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), to study medical engineering. I remember being so excited to join college despite no knowing what the course entailed.”
Nonetheless, she took up the course, learnt to enjoy it and graduated with a diploma in medical engineering. Like many graduates, she was keen to find a job where she could put her skills and knowledge into good use. She first landed in the medical industry at a job that entailed servicing, installing and repairing medical equipment in various hospitals
“This meant that I would travel a lot to several hospitals from one town to the next to offer the needed services for their equipment. I must admit I never quite felt at home at the job from the onset and was constantly convinced that employment was not meant for me,” she explains adding that she however enjoyed the travel bit from one town to another to the various hospitals, little did Charity knew that she would later land in travel as a business venture.
Due to frustrations, at one point Charity quitted her job to try a hand at multi-level marketing. She was not successful at it either. In 2013, she got a temporary biomedical job in a hospital. But even then, the feeling was persistent that indeed employment was not for her. “I promised myself that as soon as I was done with this job, I would venture into business,” she recounts. But what kind of business? She admits she didn’t really know what business to venture in.
Finding her niche…
Months later when Charity found herself jobless and stranded, she began calculating her next move career wise.
“An idea came into my mind about getting into the tours and travel industry but it didn’t materialize into a business up until 2014. I got into an industry where I had no idea how to run the business but I reached out to people who had been there earlier to guide me,” she says adding that it is important to have business mentors because when she looks back she realizes without this she wouldn’t have got anywhere in the travel industry.
Armed With a smartphone, laptop, Internet access and her love for travel, Charity began Adventure 360 from the comfort of her house. “I started small, as capital was a hindrance,” she says. She then opened a Facebook group where she would market her services and provided a contact number and email for clients who were willing to engage with her. Slowly, business began trickling in on a regular basis.
Today, Charity not only has an office in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD), but also a staff of three to assist her. She says most of her clients have contacted her through social media and others have been as a result of referrals. “I loves it when my clients are happy at the services I have offered them soo much that they come back again,” she says. On a good month Charity serves on average 50 clients.
But the entrepreneurship journey hasn’t been bliss for charity as she explains; “They have been incidences where clients have conned me of money by failing to pay after enjoying the services. Also external factors tend to affect this kind of business in many ways than you can know.
Incidences such as insecurity in the country, terrorism and political agitation tend to slow down the pace of travel. At the same time travel tends to be seasonal and there are some seasons when business is quite low. Despite the challenges, the fact that people will always want or need to go places, whether it’s for a business meeting or conference, or simply to unwind, keeps me going as the service is needed.”
Some of the travel packages her company offers include game viewing, sight seeing, road trips, beach safaris and hiking among others. In addition, they book hotels on behalf of the clients, do airport transfers, local flight booking and any special request a client may have. They also have travel honeymoon packages for newly weds, corporate team building, conferences and retreats, airport transfers, travel insurance and car hires.:
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Charity hopes in the next few years adventure three sixty can be a household name promoting local tourism. “Many Kenyans are yet to travel to different parts of the country and have no idea what a beautiful country we have. I think most people still view travel as a luxury but at adventure three sixty we work with individual’s budget and come up with travel packages that are convenient and budget-friendly.
As the interview comes to an end, Charity’s word of advice to budding entrepreneurs, “Start where you are with the little resources you have and one day you will look back and be glad you took a risk.”
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