Yonela Gaga is one of the many young entrepreneurs who is looking to make a mark on the world, and the community of Hout Bay. She and her friends started a company called iHambo Tours that facilitates walking tours around the township of Imizamo Yethu (IY). It was registered in December 2016 and started operating in January of 2017.
iHambo Tours specializes in Township tours from an “insider’s perspective,” that is, the tours take you through the township through the eyes of a member of the community and not an outsider or tourist. It is run by three people, Yonela Gaga, Nandipha Breakfast and Sinekhaya Nongabe.
Yonela oversees the marketing, Nandi is in charge of the operations and the Tours and Sinekhaya deals with the Finances.
Yonela studied marketing, Sinekhaya studied accounting and Nandi has been in the tourism business for a few years now. They combined their different skill sets to start the business.
In terms of accreditation, Nandi did a tourism course and has been approved and has accreditation as a qualified tour guide from the beginning of the year.
Yonela was inspired to start the business after she and her friends (now business partners) identified the fact that there were very few young people involved in the tourism industry in Hout Bay and from that they saw an opportunity to create jobs from it.
“We feel like something is lacking in township tours and Nandi has been in the industry for a couple of years. We feel like it’s not representing the young people of IY. It is important for us to know where we come from, it’s important to know our history, but as young people we tend to think that we need other people to represent us in the industry. So, we want to give tours from the grassroots. To represent the young people, to give back to the young people because in the long term we would like to create jobs.”
“We want to tell stories. As much as the focus has been on how Hout Bay started and where people come from, which is also important, but since then there are a lot of stories that can still be told. There are a lot of young people inspiring young people, but there are also a lot of improvements that need to be done.”
Some of the challenges they have faced so far are: not having a platform to advertise from formally, besides using social media like Facebook and Twitter. They also need capital to invest in a website and for items for the business, like business cards and posters etc.
“At present, we can’t commit to the business full time as we are still studying and trying to make ends meet, but with some of the profits we have made so far we have commissioned a graphic designer to design our logo. So, we want to be able to do things like print business cards where we can have something physical for potential customers instead of just telling them to go and find us on Facebook. Every opportunity we get we want to use”
The vision they have for the community is what inspires them and keeps them focused. They would love to see their business grow and contribute to the community of Imizamo Yethu by creating jobs and creating awareness about the community they have grown up in.
“When we do our tour’s, we need about two or three people to help us guide the group and keep conversations going, so sometimes we get the boys who are standing on the street corners who we know and trust, to come along on tours with us, or we take girls who have just matriculated and have nothing to do, to help. So, bit by bit we are trying to create jobs. In the long-run we would like to set up a bursary programme where we get learners from Silikamva sponsors from overseas and locally to sponsor their education.”
The biggest need they have identified is the need for a formal office space to work from and a website.
“One of the biggest challenges has been finances. We wanted to do our business differently, to make the experience exclusive. But starting with no capital we had to put money together to offer services that would differentiate our tour guide business from the others. But also, just the general things like administrative equipment and office space to work from require finances.We would like to have a website so we can organize bookings through it and link it to our Facebook page, but at the moment it’s been quite expensive, so we are still trying to save up for that.”
iHambo tours focuses on bridging the gap between communities locally and internationally while creating an experience through walking tours.
” We feel like people always have this image of people from IY being poor and feeling sympathy for them, whereas on our tours we take visitors to two or three people’s houses. We want visitors to IY to have a more real, more personalized experience with our tours.
Nandi takes the visitors through the location and tells them her story as well as the stories of IY and the story of Ihambo tours as well.
‘When we go to the people’s houses we contribute a certain portion of money the from the tours to the people whose homes we visit. We give it to them as a token of appreciation to make sure we don’t just go there and leave, only for them not to have food or electricity the next day. We don’t want to wait until we are a big corporate before we give back, so we start with little things. One of our main goals is to make sure that we give back to the community.
iHambo Tours was recently featured in a blog that has been able to capture the essence of the tours beautifully.
Please find the link to the story here https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/faces-of-cape-town-behind-the-scenes/