Yakub Birungi is a passionate entrepreneur from Uganda. He is the Founder and CEO of Rafiki Safaris, a company that provides tours in collaboration with the indigenous communities and offers a combination of local accommodation, ecotourism and cultural tours, giving in this way a chance to experience local culture.
Through his business Yakub has turned his lifetime passion of travelling into a job, giving people the same possibility he has had since he was a kid: seeing the most beautiful sceneries and places that Africa has to offer.
“Uganda is endowed with magnificent scenery of green vegetation, lakes, rapid falls and wild animals and also has several cultures that live together making it an attractive destination to visit.” he stated.
Rafiki Safaris was formed in 2016, but become fully operational in 2020, while Yakub was attending the Global MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship at the Uganda Martyrs University of Kampala. In 2019 Yakub enrolled in the E4Impact program to acquire the skills he needed to successfully run and scale his business and he managed indeed to register his company as an Ltd with 5 employees.
“Travelling has always been my passion, and the E4Impact MBA has allowed me to turn it into a job and inspire other people to travel and discover the beauties of the world.” he told us.
But let’s see how Rafiki Safaris was born and developed.
1.How was your Business Idea born?
Travelling has always been my passion. Since my childhood, I travelled to several tourist places like museum, historical sites and zoos, thus developing the urge to one day re-visit them and encourage others to visit them.
In my life I have participated in extra curriculum activities like debating clubs, wildlife clubs that have enhanced my socializing and networking skills. My interest in wildlife and visiting destinations at an earlier stage led me to start a business in tourism.
2.How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities?
Our beneficiaries are mainly the tourists and communities visited. The tourist should enjoy the holiday experience, whereas the communities that host them should earn handsomely from their visit by selling local food, crafts, transport accommodation and also support development.
3.What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience?
Combining entrepreneurship with a full-time job and learning about the tourism industry dynamics has not been easy. I also had limited funds to develop the business, but persistence and passion have helped me to overcome the difficulties. Before the lockdown I also managed to market the business to travel influencers, who have recently visited Uganda in March 2022.
4.In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?
Persistency, Patient, Resiliency. He/she also has to be a team worker and a risk taker.
5.What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?
A new-born entrepreneur should scan the environment for any business opportunity to sale the product or service. It is never easy to predict success, but an entrepreneur should be patient and persistent while starting up the business and in the business growth process. The entrepreneur should look forward to give back to the community that provides market for its product and services.
6.Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?
Giving back to the community as part of the entrepreneurial journey is quite satisfying. Being part of organizations that provide support to displaced communities because of floods and provide training for women and youth in business skills to grow their business is very satisfactory.
7.Could you tell us how the MBA has helped you and your business?
The MBA drives you to follow up on your business idea. The assignments in different subjects give you the chance to come up with the right strategy for your business. This encourages you to apply what you have learned to your business; given what they teach you, it would be a pity then to not take advantage of it!
From my experience, I have become more aggressive in seeking collaboration in marketing through different tourism associations when funds are available. Linking up with colleagues in class is also a satisfying moment to collaborate in different business collaborations to train communities of women and youth.