My name is Ruth Owino and I manage Brogibro Safaris & Event Management Ltd., a tour operator company that provides quality services to tourists, travelers, and all corporate and individual clients from within and outside Kenya. Driven by my passion in tourism and events management, I established Brogibro in January 2005.
As women entrepreneurs, we are often sidelined the world over – and Kenya is no exception. Acquiring funds to start and grow my business has been particularly challenging and this issue is compounded by the fact that I do not own any property that I could offer as collateral. Despite this, Brogibro was able to succeed with the help of the UK DFID-funded SheTrades Commonwealth programme. A member since the project’s inception in April 2018, we have participated in three prominent international trade fairs – WTM Africa and London in 2018 and ITB Berlin in 2019. Through these trade fairs, my company benefitted from the increased exposure to market trends and access to new markets and buyers.
Furthermore, Brogibro has achieved significant turnover since 2018 with our travel agent partners from the U.K., China, Turkey, and Germany. For instance, in August, we received a total of 39 pax for a safari with a turnover of USD 105,548. With support from SheTrades from April to November 2019, we secured USD 312,746 in actual sales with a yearly turnover of USD 526,997.
In the island of Rusinga, where Brogibro operates and which has a population of roughly 35,000 to 40,000 inhabitants, most people depend on subsistence farming (maize and millet) or fishing as a means of survival. As our business expanded, Brogibro Safaris & Events Management Ltd. was able to launch its own local microfinance programme called “Return Back to Community” in 2016. This initiative provides soft loans to widows at a low interest rate of only 2% per month to support them in setting up small businesses, sending their children to school, and putting food on the table. Most women have opted to so small-scale fishing while others engaged in paper- and soap-making, tailoring basket weaving, beadwork, and patchwork.
So far, Brogibro has supported 24 widows and 120 orphans and all women have successfully paid back their loans as of 5th October 2019. Demand for our funding initiative has been overwhelming and it is our hope that we can expand the pilot project from Rusinga Island to Uhanga in Siaya County.