Kitwe, Copperbelt-born Kerry MacFarlane runs Ntanda Ventures, founded in 2013, and a leading but small venture travel company focusing on Zambia. Like most people who have realized the importance of first having an educational qualification before starting any business, Kerry has had to earlier on invest in the right qualifications in travel and tourism. This saw her studying for and later obtaining in 1988, a Travel Diploma & IATA /UFTAA Certificate from Rapid Results College (Johannesburg, South Africa)
She then went on to start the company on her own for the first 3 years and currently, the team has a staff complement of five.
Behind the Ntanda Ventures founding was the urge to promote the country and its hidden gems, which was her passion, and to concentrate on leisure travel only.
Asked what has been her biggest achievement in the travel and tourism sector and why, she responded, saying: “Creating employment in a small town.”
She contends that it is not only women business owners that face the biggest hurdles in general. “I don’t think it is only women in the industry but for more for small companies who don’t have the buying power of large consortiums, dealing with little things like bank charges. My biggest hurdle is getting digital marketing right as the world is moving so fast in this direction.”
She has observed that women in travel and tourism are not receiving the right support from the government. She thinks that the Zambian government doesn’t realize the potential of tourism in Zambia, where her company is currently on a 5-year programme with The Netherlands-based CBI (Centre for the Promotion of Imports), to promote inbound tourism from the UK and EU markets into Zambia.
The saying behind every successful man is a woman is in this case the reverse; she works peacefully and conveniently from the comfort that is her home.
“I am very fortunate to have a home office on our smallholding out of town in Chingola, so I have my husband and my kids (dogs) with me. My husband has been my rock behind Ntanda Ventures for affordable safaris in Zambia,” she explains.
Observing that her husband Robert has stood by all her “crazy ideas over the years”. “We love travelling as a family and often travel with my mum and sister.”
“There are so many affordable options and I want the world to share my amazing country and its friendly people while including experiences which support local communities.”
Sharing What Zambia Offers
Her personal goal as a tourism industry entrepreneur is to strive to share what Zambia, often touted as a luxury safari destination, has to offer.
“There are so many affordable options and I want the world to share my amazing country and its friendly people while including experiences which support local communities”, noted the mother and businesswoman.
She also highlighted that a safari is not just about seeing animals on a game drive; there is so much to see and do. The to-do list, in her company’s experience, include shopping up a storm that supports conservation, education, and local art.
She also recommends doing a bush-SPA (highly recommended), getting involved in a conservation safari which covers family safaris with children with activities like tracking, spoor identification, bow and arrow making, archery, stargazing, fishing, entomology, bread making, rope making, seed jewellery making, and bush skills.
One can also sleep in star beds, dine out under the stars or chill by the pool watching animals come down to drink at the river’s edge (ditch the beach and bask in the bush) and not least of all, visit numerous waterfalls or a traditional ceremony (the history fascinating Zambia traditional ceremonies)
What motivates her to wake up every day? She says these are the great adventures/experiences she will come up with each day, often inspired by local travelers who are getting off-the-beaten-track. Also, giving a lodge or supplier a booking in these Covid times feels so good as well as seeing the local market travel in their own country as they have never travelled before is a great motivation.
She does think more women are taking the initiative to venture into and are well represented in travel and tourism and she believes that Zambian women “are the powerhouse behind the country”.
Her advice to young or other women seeking to breakthrough in travel and tourism is that they mustn’t be afraid to follow their instinct and passion and that they will have to expect “tough days but tomorrow is always another opportunity”. “Force yourself out of your comfort zone.”
In the next 5 years, she sees her company growing gradually to become “the go-to tour operator” for affordable safaris and great experiences in Zambia.
That journey to success has already begun, with the company showing signs of adapting to the new normal of Covid 19 and preparing for the post period. Ntanda started a DIY website just for the local market which has kept it, according to Kerry, very busy. They have employed an extra member of staff in September 2020 to help with the workload – current and into the future. Zambia was fortunate not to have tight lockdowns and so the local community took to travelling local in a big way and it’s hoped this will be the start of much more business to be had on the road to success.
The journey gives tourists the chance to “experience the heart of Africa with a stunning Zambia safari tour.”
Are you’re looking for a different kind of holiday or a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Are you in search of meeting elephants and see animals in their natural habitat on a thrilling night game drive? Or to enjoy fine dining with accommodation, activities, transfers, park fees, and meals, all taken care of? Look no further than Kerry MacFarlane’s Ntanda Ventures, the safari specialists to facilitate that Zambian quest!