📍 Kenya: Our founders’ team is currently on the road. At the end of February, Alex and Nils went to East Africa to validate the impact of the socialbnb concept on site and to check where there is still potential for improvement. Another goal of the trip is to search for new partner projects and accommodations for the social startup.
4 quick questions for Alex and Nils
To give you a more specific insight into Alex and Nils’ work during their journey and also to keep you up to date, they have answered four exciting questions for you – here we go!
1) Where are you on the road right now and why?
Alex: Many of our partner projects around the world have suffered badly from the consequences of the pandemic. Donations stopped coming in, hard lockdowns made the work on site very difficult, and the low number of travelers partially weakened the local economy. That’s why we decided a long time ago to visit some of our partners as the pandemic eased, to discuss how we can work together in the future and how our socialbnb platform can be improved to provide the best possible support.
Nils: Last November, we also had the opportunity to pitch the socialbnb concept to representatives of SOS-Kinderdörfer from 26 African countries. We found out that there is great potential to create impact together.
At the end of February, we were invited as one of five startups to a “Prototyping Week”. Together with the SOS organization from Botswana and the Chadibe community in Botswana, we developed a new community-based tourism concept. In this concept, we worked out to what extent tourism can make a meaningful contribution to the local community and to the region in general.
Since this cooperation led us to Kenya, we decided to stay there for the next weeks and visit our local partners. We started in Nairobi and then traveled to the coast to Mombasa. Afterwards we will go to Uganda and spend some time in Kampala. We will keep you up to date on our social media channels during the next weeks and summarize our impressions for you.
2) How do you find new local partner projects?
Alex: At socialbnb, it is important to us that the projects and organizations listed on our platform are locally run. Because we are convinced that this is the only way to create a sustainable impact for the region and the local people and a truly authentic travel experience on behalf of the travelers. To achieve this, we first start on site with online research, just as our partner management team does. Using keywords such as “Impact”, “Social Hostel” or “NGO”, we find potential contacts, call them and drive by. We then discuss the cooperation possibilities, their needs and to what extent socialbnb can support them. In addition, we go through our quality criteria and see if a listing is generally an option. Since the local people are well networked in the region, we often find out about other contacts during the conversation and are referred to them accordingly.
3) What are your expectations for the trip?
Nils: For us, it’s all about listening and learning. What do our local partners need, how can we best support them to generate even more impact, and what can we improve regarding the platform? The socialbnb platform was created out of the need of many different local organizations to provide sustainable funding. We want to maintain this focus as we grow. By traveling on site, we can also better understand the needs from the traveler’s perspective and adapt our offering and the service that comes with it.
4) What is your highlight so far?
Alex: Every talk we have is a highlight in itself. The people we meet are doing amazing work on site. It’s super inspiring to work with local people – who are challenging and questioning the status quo – to develop new innovative solutions and create real value for the region. We can learn a lot from them.
My personal highlight so far was meeting the “Deaf Centre in Kwale”. This is an inclusion organization that gives a voice to people with a speech and/or hearing impairment and supports them in leading a self-determined life. We were warmly welcomed, able to learn a lot about the region and even a little about sign language. We very much hope that their accommodation will soon be available on socialbnb.
Nils: It’s difficult to pick a highlight. But probably for me it is the first stay here at our partner project “Resilient Women’s Organization”. Getting to know the people behind the project and finally meeting in person after numerous video calls was a very nice moment. Especially the hospitality with which we were welcomed and the enthusiasm of the people working on the project was very inspiring and special. Through our stay we were able to learn a lot more about the project and why this work is so incredibly important and should be supported.
We will keep you updated and are very excited to share the fascinating stories of these great and inspiring people with you in the next few days.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your stay in Nairobi, check out this blog post. We give you 5 insider tips to make your vacation as eventful as possible.