ReThinking Africa Initiative advocates investment in Africa’s tourism industry
Frankfurt, January 15th 2024 – Innovative female entrepreneurs are on the rise in Africa. They are harnessing the continent’s female potential to bring about positive change. In tourism, the activities are particularly effective in rural areas. Tech start-ups and social entrepreneurial initiatives are creating employment and new prospects in the destinations.
„Women play a key role in rural regions of Africa in terms of the development and cohesion of their communities,“ explains Hanna Kleber from Voice4Africa, a founding member of the ReThinking Africa business initiative. „This is exactly where many female-led start-ups come in, which need to be supported through investment.“
Studies by the World Bank show that women make up 58 per cent of Africa’s self-employed population and contribute around 13 per cent to the continent’s GDP. The African Development Bank (AfDB) emphasises the importance of female-led start-ups as key drivers of economic development that contribute to financial inclusion on the continent through job creation.
How an innovative app connects Kenyan artisans with the tourism industry
The Shaba is a social entrepreneurial tech start-up that works with rural communities in Kenya producing handmade bags and sustainable souvenirs. The artisans are connected to potential buyers such as hotels, lodges and souvenir shops via a digital platform without middlemen.
The pioneering virtual operation and app-based distribution system has transformed the supply chain for artisan products in Kenya, leading to greater efficiency, sustainable practices and rural empowerment.
The Shaba was launched in 2019 after Gloria Kisilu, founder and CEO of the tech start-up, recognised the need to give women artisans direct access to the market. „I wanted to use the tailor-made app to help bridge the digital divide experienced by women artisans in rural areas and open up new markets for them, because my grandmother already wove sisal baskets,“ explains Kisilu, who was recently recognized for her work with the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Award.
Empowering women in Uganda through community-based ecotourism
In Uganda, Hilda Namara, founder of the Ubuntu Women Tourism Foundation, is creating prospects for women and their communities in rural areas. The social impact start-up offers tourism activities that promote cultural exchange and open up economic opportunities in remote regions of the East African country.
„Solidarity and fair, responsible ecotourism are at the centre of what we do. With our work, we support development initiatives in places that would otherwise not benefit from the economic advantages of tourism,“ emphasises Namara.
The tourism foundation’s initiatives range from entrepreneurial training measures combined with a village bank strategy that enables women to set up their own businesses to sponsorship programmes that finance school attendance for disadvantaged children. In this way, tourism has a direct positive effect on the lives of people in the as yet unknown holiday regions.
© Hilda Namara with her Ubuntu Women Tourism Foundation in Uganda
VOICE4AFRICA is an initiative of the KLEBER GROUP, a full-service PR agency with a special focus on tourism and many years of expertise in Africa. Together with African tour operators, the initiative promotes responsible tourism to Africa as a means of international understanding and a driver for sustainable development. Voice4Africa is the winner of the Corps Touristique Award for International Understanding 2023.
Hanna Kleber and Julia Kleber | Management
Friederike Galuschky | Senior Consultant Communications
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Photo: Gloria Kisilu, founder of The Shaba, with women artisans in Kenya (c) The Shaba