UNWTO-NEPAD Maiden Tourism Tech Adventures create business linkages for African start-ups at FITUR


Five African tourism start-ups were given the opportunity to share and pitch their business ideas through the joint UNWTO-NEPAD Tourism Tech Adventures initiative.

The presentations were made as part of the 10th anniversary of INVESTOUR; the event dedicated to promoting African tourism and businesses yearly at FITUR in Madrid, Spain. The five; Phenomenon Technologies – Zimbabwe, Run Africa – Ethiopia, Khwela Youth Tourism – South Africa, Lives – Senegal and Roundbob – Uganda made the final shortlist out of over 3000 applications that were received from all over the world.

In an attempt to further spur the growth of technology and innovation, UNWTO Africa and NEPAD launched the UNWTO/NEPAD Tourism Tech Adventure to encourage the development of technology and innovation in the tourism sector in Africa. The UNWTO/NEPAD Tourism Tech Adventure aims to provide a platform to African youth entrepreneurs to nurture their innovative ideas and utilize technology in further developing the tourism sector in Africa.

In an interview with www.voyagesafriq.com Head of Innovation at UNWTO, Natalia Bayona said the initiative is to help member states to foster a tourism innovation ecosystem.

Natalia Bayona

“When you are talking about innovation, teamwork is very crucial, basically joining the start-ups, entrepreneurs, academia institutions, national governments and of course corporates and investors. They are aligned with the main purpose which is a more sustainable and better tourism for all. We can go together on a scale and give new businesses, new employment opportunity for everyone,” she said.
She added that having received entries from over 130 countries it was such a delight that the top five could come from Africa. “Today we had the opportunity to bring here to Spain the top five from Africa that we are pitching to investors, corporates and the Ministers of Tourism from Africa. It is amazing because that is commitment and that is how you help others to build new business opportunities. Yesterday we had the final at the global scope and we had ministers from all over the world, investors and start-ups from all around the world and everyone is committed about bringing new services and ways to promote tourism.

Representatives of the five start-ups had the following to say after the three days event:
Phenomenon Technologies – Zimbabwe: It’s been a lovely experience and we’ve managed to present and pitch our start-up so that we can get access to an investor. So far it’s been wonderful, we’ve met all the ministers and we are looking to expanding to different sectors as we are into improving tourism education experiences and virtual reality. Therefore we are partnering with schools and helping them to discover new places and learn from them through virtual reality technology. This is been a really wonderful experience to learn more about different cultures and to improve our business and expand to other countries. – Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku, Founder & CEO

Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku, Founder & CEO

Round Bob.com – Uganda: We are trying to help Africans to travel, we think that there is huge market that wants to travel and we believe that with the right product, we can actually create millions of new travellers on the continent. We had a masterclass today which was pretty much about how to pitch and how to be able to make a better package for investors. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now so we’ve had this quite often but I think there was one great presentation around keeping it simple, putting out the right information for investors. And I think it helped us to actually for today, because we took some of the insights back home and worked through the night to get it right, so we are glad to be here and about the experience and we are happy to be a part of this – David Gonahasa, Managing Director

David Gonahasa, Managing Director

LIVES – Senegal: LIVES is connecting dots between people, African cities and cultures and we are now ready to launch our mobile app which shows the best of what each African city has to offer. We are here at the UNWTO-NEPAD at Investour, and we had a great opportunity to actually meet foreign start-ups and it is great because we believe in collaborations between people, talents, ideas and this is basically what we have here with investors, governments, decision makers and other entreprenuers. So it is really refreshing and motivational – Codou Olivia Ndiaye, Co-founder & Project Manager

Codou Olivia Ndiaye, Co-founder & Project Manager

Run Africa – Ethiopia: I started Run Africa which gives opportunity to running and hiking enthusiasts to run and experience the unique Ethiopian running culture and altitudes. So I am very happy to be here in Spain, being selected as one of the five start-ups, and my impression so far is that it is a great opportunity for us to connect and network with people who come from different African countries and from Europe as well. So I am looking forward to this great opportunity of expanding from Africa to the rest of the world – Rekik Bekele, CEO

Rekik Bekele, CEO

Khwela Tourism Youth Stars – South Africa: We founded Kwela in 2017 to close the gap between youth unemployment and the youth travel operators who couldn’t find amazing staff to work in tourism businesses. So through online learning, an experiential road trip through South Africa, we bring these two parties together and really empower them to experience the beauty of South Africa. For the last two days I have been in Madrid, I was invited here by the UNWTO, Fitur and NEPAD, to this workshop on how we can improve African start-ups. I met some incredible start-ups, there were four others and the learning that we had, and the talks that were delivered were insightful and enriching. And I will recommend it to any African start-up – Kim Whitaker, CEO

Kim Whitaker, CEO

Story By: Samuel Obeng Appah


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