A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR BUILDS A BUSINESS FROM   HER   LOVE OF TRAVEL

Joy Maina founder and CEO of Joyina Safaris Africa out in nature.
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Travel practitioner turned entrepreneur Joy Maina sets up Joyina Safaris Africa to bring people closer to nature

By Joseph Macharia

Joy Maina founder and CEO of Joyina Safaris Africa loves everything nature and safari. She was that kind of a child who would not sleep out of excitement whenever her parents were travelling with her. She would prepare and always  get   ready to hit the road. Her idyllic world revolves around natural sceneries. Born and raised in Isiolo county – the only county in Kenya that hosts three national game reserves  –    pursuing a course in tourism was the next logical step for her.

Isiolo plays host to Shaba, Bisanadi and Buffalo Springs national reserves. Without a doubt, being surrounded by these breathtaking beautiful sceneries lined with ranges of hills and the sunny tropical climate sparked Joy’s love for nature. By default and not design; travelling in nature became her first love. After completing her high school studies, she joined Kenya Institute of Professional Studies (KIPS) college in 2017 to  undertake   a certificate in tour guiding. Later , she did a diploma in tourism management.

Joy Maina with some of her clients.

Tough but beautiful

Like any other course, she had to take an industrial attachment as part  of the academic programme. Her internship provided an exposure and a window to learn more about tourism. However, she was met with a disappointment when one of her supervisors bluntly informed her that it is very hard for a lady to get a job as a tour guide.

What was she to do without connections? To find an outlet for venting out her overwhelming passion for nature, she created a Facebook page where she would post beautiful pictures of wild Africa. She did it purely like a pastime activity. To her utter surprise, out of the blues , someone contacted her for a job. On the brief interview, the caller simply said :  “Your page has just described you, I want you to start work immediately.”  That is   how she landed her first job!

From that experience, Joy learnt the need to post valuable information on one’s social media accounts. “It’s very good to keep your social media accounts real and authentic.  Post valuable things that you love, you never know who is viewing,” she asserts.

She took a short stint before landing another job as a tour consultant with another operator.  Before she even settled in the new job, Covid-19 hit.  Lock downs  and travel restrictions became the norm. Since the tourism industry relies heavily on visitors  from  abroaad, their operations came to a standstill.

Group road trips organized by Joyina Safaris Africa.

Step of faith

Back at home and    jobless, the idea of   starting    a travel agency started lurking in her mind. While she was quarantined at her home, people would call her to inquire about travelling issues. Once restrictive measures were eased and life went back to normal, she took a step of faith and launched her enterprise in early 2022. With only passion as her chief capital, she registered the business and voila!She was officially open for business. Remaining true to herself,  she branded her travel agency Joyina Safaris Africa.

Anyone who has ventured  into   business    will tell you that it is not a walk in the path. Firstly,  being a lady in the male-dominated  industry   is a major challenge. There are few women serving as tour guides. So at first getting clients was an uphill struggle. “As a lady in the tourism space it has not been easy, by the help of God we are doing it the right way,” she notes nonetheless. But she has overcome this hurdle by growing strong and embracing feedback. In the course of three years , she has been able to organize numerous successful trips within the country and in Tanzania.

Most people prefer dealing with established businesses. As a start up, she encountered  clients  who were reluctant to  give  her   business. Understandably, most clients want to see you and possibly have heard of you be before they contemplate giving you their business. To maneuver this obstacle , Joy invested in a website that went live in 2022. Since then, she has witnessed an explosion of clientele who call in to make inquiries.

Growth

Initially she started doing only Kenyan Safaris.  She focused  on    organizing beach excursions, road trips and day trips. Gradually the business is gathering momentum . Indeed   last year ,  Joyina Safaris Africa started receiving international guests and expanding to Tanzania. Remarkably, the travel agency has even organized team building events for corporates. In 2023, her outstanding services in the tourism  industry   saw her nominated in the SHE Awards Africa under the founder of the year under 30 category.

When asked what sets her apart from other tour operators , she says: “I believe in giving clients exemplary services and having respect for them because they   have saved to do a safari. So they deserve the best.”   As  an   entrepreneur, Joy has intentionally focused on giving superb services arguing that profits will come afterwards. “When you give your customers the best, profits will eventually come.” She says her best moments are when clients give her positive feedback.

Group road trips organized by Joyina Safaris Africa.

Road ahead

Her future plans are to expand and build the business into a respectable brand with offices in various destinations and a fleet of tourist safari vehicles. “I want to build a  business  that can  be inherited   by   my children,” she says.”To a person who wants to venture into entrepreneurship, take a step, start and leave the rest to God,” she opines. “Everything is created in the mind, what you create will come to manifest. So first open up your mind, be positive and get   started.”

While venturing into entrepreneurship is good, she cautions against doing it  solely for money. “If you, enter into business only for profits,  you’ll give up when it gets  hard. You have to see beyond the profits. You have to love what you do and that is where passion comes in.”

Joy at a glance

Typical day: Wakes up in the morning,  starts   the day with devotion, later starts  her daily routine   of attending to clients,  fielding calls and organizing safaris, and finally ends the day around 10pm.

Hobbies: Travelling,  enjoying   nature, meeting new people and watching movies.

Favourite dish: Beef and rice.

Favourite destination: Maldives Island.

Dream car: Range Rover Sport.

Marital status: Not married.

Parting shot: Always put God first!

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1 COMMENT

  1. Awesome profiling of Joy Maina and her business. I have travelled with Joyina Safaris and can assure you that Joy’s desire for exemplary service is outstanding and making her clients feel comfortable is remarkable. When you love the work you do, it truly shows in the quality. May God continue to expand her boundaries and take her to higher heights ..

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