When Joyce Rugano started her company Joybly Adventures on Facebook page in December 2017, little did she know that one year later she would be the winner of the 2018 Africa Youth Connect for offering the most affordable tourism packages in Africa.
The 26-year-old’s company majorly deals in budgeted family vacations, honeymoons, day tours and air ticketing. It currently handles corporate and individual travels.
“I pre-visit different destinations, make deals with hotels and tourist destinations, and make an affordable package for my clients,” says Ms Rugano.
With the prospect of her enterprise looking bright, it is unbelievable that she started it after frustrations emanating from failure to get a job.
After graduating from Moi University in 2016, Ms Rugano went on a job hunting mission. Having done a degree in tours and travel, she thought it would be easy for her to get a job given that Kenya is known globally for its tourism sector.
However, she spent four months moving from office to office looking for an employment in vain. Many companies rejected her because of her lack of experience.
“Due to desperation I decided to do what I love most — planning and organising. I would plan outings for some groups in my church, this is when I realised that many people love adventure but they are not able to raise a lot of money,” Ms Rugano says.
“I decided to meet this need by organising very cheap tours. Even from $20 (Sh2,072) someone could get a memorable getaway,” she says.
She started Joybly adventures with zero initial capital investment, only using a Facebook page where she invited all her friends to like the page then started posting packages. She made her first sale two months after creating the page.
“My first sale was from a Facebook client who wanted to go with her family to Lake Bogoria. I organised everything, from transport to accommodation and activities,” says the entrepreneur.
“The package was very affordable that the client couldn’t believe it. She was so satisfied that she immediately booked another trip to Zanzibar,” she says.
Since then, Ms Rugano has never looked back, and she is now betting on the rising domestic tourism in Kenya to make sales for her company.
According to the 2019 Economic Survey Report, hotel bed night occupancy increased by 20.1 percent to 8.6 million in 2018, of which 52.1 per cent were occupied by local visitors, indicating the growing importance of domestic tourism.
Tourism earnings also increased by 31.3 percent to Sh157.4 billion in 2018, with the number of international arrivals going up by 14 percent to 2.03 million in 2018.
This means tourist ventures, like that of Ms Rugano are set for good times.
For day trips to Lake Naivasha and Elementaita, Joybly charges Sh3,000 per person inclusive of transport, lunch and activities such as boat rides, biking, teambuilding and swimming. A one day trip to Mount Kenya costs Sh2,800 inclusive of transport, lunch, hiking, game drive. Bogoria day trip costs Sh3,500 and the offer includes transport, lunch, game drive to hot springs, team building and drinks.
The company also offers local and international tourists trips to Maasai Mara which is considered a Kenya’s wildlife jewel and one of the finest tourism destinations in the world.
“We are also taking advantage of the recently launched standard gauge railway to offer fascinating holidays to travellers in Mombasa,” she said.
The firm also offers couples on honeymoon a trip to their destination of choice. A 10-day trip to Sarova white Sands for instance costs Sh56,000 per couple with transport, meals and drinks, accommodation, cake, flowers, massage and a honeymoon suit.
“My biggest challenge is my competitors who have been in the market for long. Most people give preference to established operators compared to startups who have been there for a short time,” she says.
“Nevertheless I sell very affordable packages, favourable even to the low income earners. This has enabled very many people to appreciate domestic tourism and patronise my company.”
What are her future plans?
“My future aspiration is to have the best company in Africa that offers budgeted family vacations and group tours. Holidays are not for the rich. With the little cash you have you can get yourself a getaway.”
- African Laughter