Much of Africa has not yet developed a booming travel industry. And unfortunately, the travel industry that does thrive often perpetuates a redundant narrative - that of the animal safari. However, Tastemakers is taking a head-on approach to reversing that story and image and opening the travel industry in Africa up to a more diverse, local and curated offering.
Cherae, founder of Tastemakers, saw firsthand the misinterpretations of African cities on a global scale and sought to understand the reasons behind a frail African travel industry. She filled us in on her motivations behind Tastemakers and some of their big plans for the near future.
WHAT TRIGGERED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
I used to work in agriculture and development and spent a lot of time in both Africa and South Asia. I noticed that what I discovered in places like Nairobi, Lagos, or Johannesburg was vastly different then the narrative of these cities at a global level. Instead of poverty, crime, etc I found amazing artists, entrepreneurs, chefs, and scenes. There were times when a night out in Lagos rivaled that of Miami or New York City. Social media then changed the game, through sharing on Facebook and later Instagram, people were seeing Africa differently through my lens. I saw that there was a huge appetite for a non-safari way to explore the continent. From this Tastemakers was born.
WHAT DOES YOUR STARTUP DO?
Tastemakers is like your well-connected friend in every African city. We help travelers find and book cool, curated, experiences hosted by local insiders who we vet for quality and "epic-ness". Think a nightlife crawl with an amazing DJ or a cooking and photography lesson from a food photographer. We infuse authentic and contemporary in everything we do from the online to the offline experience.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT OF YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE ON THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?
The Africa region has been largely underserved by the travel industry which by and large perpetuates the safari as the only reason to visit African destinations. Beyond perceptions, the industry is largely fragmented with many tour operators not even online. Safety is another common theme when discussing the region's low performance in the global tourism industry, we take that away with our vetting and security process. We're opening up the region, supporting the best operators, bringing young people into the ecosystem, and changing the narrative for the benefit of all.
WHAT RECENT MILESTONE(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
We just added our 70th experience to the platform and signed a partnership deal with Afropunk. The partnership allows us to host experiences in Paris, London, Atlanta, Brooklyn, and builds up to a mega experience in Johannesburg on NYE. Testing our model out in other regions while maintaining our DNA through this partnership is a big win and comes at a time when we are heavily focused on activating our community.
We're sure Tastemakers can help you experience the wonders of an amazing continent with friends you didn't know you had. For more information on what they do, visit their website or continue following our blogs for more updates on how they're doing in Amsterdam!