Mobile Technology and Business: In May 2011, I started my business with my mobile phone – says Founder of Africholidays Travel Agency.
Ayomide Condotti, Founder, Africholidays Travel
A growing number of African women entrepreneurs start their dream businesses with a mobile phone – Ayomide Condotti is the perfect example.
Emerging entrepreneurs in the developing world use various technological tools and resources to start, expand, or grow their businesses. The African Women Power (AWP) network interviewed Condotti, Founder and Creative Travel Agent at Africholidays Travel. Ayomide’s story shows that by being job creators, African women have a key role to play in Africa’s economic transformation.
Prior to starting the business, Ayomide worked as a banker and investment manager at the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Treasury Unit. She holds a Masters degree in Investment Management from the Sir John Cass Business School in London. After she got married, Ayomide moved to Accra and began working but she could only dream of doing more with her life and degree. Hence, she decided to combine her passion for travelling with her love for business.
When many people think of Africa, they hardly think ‘exotic vacation places,’ Africholidays Travel hopes to change this perception.
What does your company do?
My company provides low-cost travel to exotic places in and outside Africa. We offer holiday packages to Africans anywhere in the world. We help demystify traveling for people. We simplify the process so that it is not stressful for our clients. Packages include trips to Gambia, Accra, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Maldives, Seychelles, Cape Town, Dubai, and exotic cruises.
How have you financed your business?
When I started my business, people constantly told me that my idea would not work and that I would not make it, but my client list keeps growing. I started my business with my savings – now the company finances itself. Private investors have come knocking on our door and we are very excited about the opportunity and the future of the business. It is nice to get the attention of private investors.
How many jobs have you created?
Currently, we have six (6) staff members in Lagos and I just concluded the Africholidays TravelBook training in Abuja. We now have nine (9) fully trained staff members in Abuja. By next month, we will expand the Africholidays TravelBook training to include stay-at-home mums or people who need the extra income.
We will continue to expand and plan to create more jobs. Roles needed include sales reps, assistants, and marketers. My long-term goal is to hire National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members as leg soldiers in 36 states across Nigeria. I will provide the necessary staff training and fully equip these young people with the materials needed to sell my product.
What is the Africholidays TravelBook training program?
It is a training program that properly informs staff members to market Africholidays Travel Packages. In the training, participants are equipped with both travel structure and marketing tools to aid sales.
What is the five-year plan for your business?
(a) To become the premiere travel agency in Nigeria,
(b) To develop and build a community that actively promotes tourism throughout Africa,
(c) To show the world that Africa remains one of the best places to take a vacation.
What is your competitive edge?
Providing low-cost exquisite vacation destinations for our clients, – we are not the typical travel agency. We focus extensively on research and development. We know of the newest hotels in various parts of Africa and inform our clients. We make it our business to update our database with newly built hotels, tours, and activities. We also constantly review the old ones to maintain quality service delivery.
In what ways has your business expanded?
(1) We have increased the number of products and services that we offer;
(2) We have gone from just using mobile phones to making use of social media platforms (twitter, facebook, instagram, Blackberry Messenger), and now have a new website.
(3) We have just hired newly trained staff members.
How do you manage all of your roles?
Spending time with my family and keeping my business are important to me. These tools, relaxation and time management skills are important when balancing my role as a wife, mother, friend, mentor, employer, and business owner. Balancing these roles are a challenge, but not impossible. I have adopted several relaxation methods – I watch reality TV shows and read Agatha Christie books on my Ipad (I love Monsieur Hercule Poirot!!). I also take good care of my health and properly manage my time. To remain successful, it is what I need to do to make money.
What challenges do you face as a business owner in Nigeria?
1. Power: the lack of adequate electricity – I spend so much money on fuel.
2. Marketing: I need the additional support– we are currently working on this.
3. Workforce training and development: many university graduates lack the skills necessary to transition into the workforce so staff members need extensive guidance, training, and professional development support.
4. Infrastructure (e.g. security).
What advice do you have for youths reading this interview?
I want them to know that business has changed my life.
1. Do not be afraid to take the first step: Go for it!
2. Do not be afraid to ask questions – I used to be afraid.
3. Know your market and do your research.
4. Know what is going on in your business especially with your finances – keep your eyes and ears open.
5. Do not let people curb your dreams – people constantly told me that my business idea would not work and that I would not make it, but my client list keeps growing.
6. Do what you love.
I believe that if you are good at what you do, good things will find you. Have integrity and make sure that the quality of your work speaks for itself. Find your passion and do what you love. Always remain focused and do not be distracted by the noise. Spirituality is also very important to my success – my spirituality is what keeps me going and grounded.
Book your holidays, flights, hotels, and tours with Africholidays!
Contact Africholidays Travel here:
Email: Info [at] Africholidays.com