The unexpected journey

Updated: Oct 11, 2018

Can you call a journey really a journey when nothing unexpected happens? I don’t think so and #thesocialimpactjourney does have an unexpected twist as well. Let’s just throw it out here: I won’t stay in Zambia. Feels weird to write it down now and this makes it very official, even though I know it for couple of days already. Why does the Zambian adventure stops here? Last week we tried to come to a business plan that would be sustainable and generate enough revenue to be able to have the kitchen available for small food entrepreneurs. After we spoke to more entrepreneurs, the conclusion was that they are not able to pay any rent at the moment, which means that all revenue has to come from another activity. The most profitable and efficient way of making money would be to start a catering company in combination with the food truck. Weddings and events are booming, so the catering market is growing too. However… I’ve not the ambition to start a catering related business and I really doubt if I could add value in all this. This in combination with the fact that Lusaka did not stole my heart and that the plan would still require a high initial investment, didn’t make me feel comfortable to stay.

Could I have known this before? No. I knew I didn’t have experiences in commercial kitchens and that I’m not a chef myself, but I also knew that I could be of added value in terms of planning, marketing and business development. I hoped to be able to support entrepreneurs through starting a business with a local who does have the skills I lack. This was Daliso and this was the reason for me to take that plane down south. It was an adventure with an open end and with the goal to discover if this would work out. But it didn’t at this moment. Do I regret spending time and money on this? No. I don’t have a single moment of regret or doubt about my decision. I am so happy I got to know Daliso and Violet, they are wonderful people and it feels like we’ve known each other for years. And that’s also why I’ve mixed feelings about leaving. It’s been great to experience to jump into an adventure with total strangers and that it is so nice, but they have been so open and welcoming, that this was very easy. Besides, I have learned so many new things. All the market research and meetings with people helped me to understand the Zambian (and African) market much better and I am now able to think about questions and issues in a complete different way. I could have never got these insights and knowledge from home and Google.

Another amazing thing is that I learned more about myself. Being away made me realise more what I would like to do. All the meetings in both Uganda and Zambia confirmed that I want to be in Africa and I want to start a social enterprise to be able to make money, but to do good at the same time. I’m convinced that you can’t really support people in a sustainable way if you don’t make money yourself, so the combination of business and social projects is needed. And how can you do this? I believe, this is possible when you do something that you love and are passionate about.

And that’s why I’m going back to my tourism roots. The reason to start the bachelors in tourism was to be able to create impact through tourism. This all started with a paper about community based tourism when I was 16 years old during the last year of high school. This interest and passion for tourism has never disappeared, but I had moved it a bit to the background. Now it’s time to get this back and focus on tourism again. How? I’ll go to Tanzania. What I’ll do and why there is something I will explain in the next blog!


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