- How long have you been in this industry?
I have been in the travel trade industry for the past 7 years.
- When did you start this business?
I started this business in the year 2012. It was a tough journey for me but I thank God that I made it. I was a hotelier when I decided to resign from my job to venture in the tourism and travel industry. My then boss refused to pay my dues and I was stuck. I took up a loan of Ksh 50, 000, I wasn’t able to pay on time it accumulated to Ksh 500, 000. I used the Ksh 50, 000 to buy a laptop which I used to operate from as my office. I reached out to clients door to door.
I got my first client after two months through a referral from one of the offices I had visited. I remember it was six couples and their children. From the money that I made, I was able to clear my debt and rent a small office space. I struggled a bit for about four years until we were contracted to become service providers in one of the government institutions. Few people have helped me through my journey and they are my husband Anthony Mukomah, brother Simon Ndungu, Mr Mohammed of Vogue Tours and the Kenya Airways Sales Manager Mohammed Hamo.
- 3. What were the challenges then and what continues to be the challenge now?
Challenges I faced include lack of enough capital making it hard to penetrate the industry. I also lacked proper information and knowledge on the business. The cost of doing business was also a hinderance, this included agency licences and fees.
Luckily, that is no longer the problem now as what I have to contend with is competition from other agencies and delayed payments from clients.
Technology has made work easier but it has also made business rough for us travel agents as a client can easily book their holiday and tickets online.
- What has been the highlight in your journey in this industry?
Opening my business and succeeding in it despite the rough patch is a highlight for me. I look at my work and staff and I am grateful for the far that I have come. It makes me appreciate what I have much more.
- What has been your lowest moment?
I once could not raise money to pay a service provider and had to shut down my business to avoid being auctioned. I payed the provider back later.
- What would your advice be to women interested in this industry?
Women in the travel industry should be resilient and learn to weather the challenges. They should also try seek procurement opportunities in the government through the proper channels.
- What changes would you like to see?
Agencies should embrace technology as times have changed. Everything has become digital and we need to conform for our businesses to keep up.
- How do/did you manage to strike a balance between family and work?
I have very supportive husband who is there for our family in every aspect. I also have a competent working team for our company. This makes work family balance easy and enjoyable.
- One more thing…
I appreciate organisations and people who take time to support and help nurture the dreams of women in this industry. As I have learnt from my experience, sometimes it is not an easy journey but with people who build you and organisations that boost you, like the Kenyan Government did for me, then we will make tremendous progress and boost this industry which will in turn benefit the country at large.