South African travel-tech startup is looking to provide travellers with more authentic experiences by connecting them with local tours, activities and guides. Formed in May 2018 by Tapiwa Ndlovu and Ayuoob Abrahams,

South African travel-tech startup is looking to provide travellers with more authentic experiences by connecting them with local tours, activities and guides.

Formed in May 2018 by Tapiwa Ndlovu and Ayuoob Abrahams, who met at the University of Stellenbosch, Kumba is focused on empowering the African tourism industry by connecting more travellers from around the world to authentic tours and activities provided by local companies.

Its online marketplace and booking platform allows travellers to book and pay for various experiences, such as a two-hour Moroccan cooking experience in Casablanca, a full-day walking tour of Cairo, or an all-inclusive 10-day tour of South Africa. It also allows users to request customised trips.

“Our mission is to promote tourism in Africa by making bookings simple, customisable, and affordable for our customers,” Ndlovu told Disrupt Africa.

“Travellers, in general, get a raw deal as they are taken on generic tours and activities, while being charged exorbitant fees. So instead of a traveller going to multiple different tour operators in a particular destination just to get the best deal, Kumba will leverage on its existing inventory of travel experiences in that destination, and create customised trip itineraries to suit that customer’s preferences and budget.”

The startup is still technically in beta testing phase, but already has more than 60 tour operators and over 80 individual tour guides and locals across 15 African countries signed up to use the Kumba platform.

“We have been able to make an array of authentic experiences available because of this large reach,” Ndlovu said.

For every transaction that takes place on the Kumba platform, it charges a service fee to the host. Hosts set their own prices, and Ndlovu said the startup has so far generated more than ZAR200,000 (US$13,700) in revenue. This without any cash yet being spent on marketing.

“We are bootstrapping at the moment, and it has been sustainable through a number of factors, such as using many freemium services, low-cost APIs, multiple free servers, leveraging on my connections, and finally, the dedication of various team members who join as interns and contribute immensely to making sure we function well,” said Ndlovu.