BY VICTOR ADAR
George Njuguna Nyutu was once a village boy who developed a passion for tours while still in campus. Holding a Bachelor’s degree from University of Nairobi and a diploma in Information Technology, he would work as a systems administrator in an insurance company before he found a home in self-employment.
Mr Nyutu, who is now managing Bella Safaris, a tour and travel company that provides both local and international travel services and hospitality to corporates, individuals, couples and even groups, started his entrepreneurship journey in earnest in 2015. Back then, it was all of a courtesy car company with only one car that he had bought while he was employed.
As the demand for his tour services went high, he hired vehicles from families and friends. By August 2016, he had a fleet of 30 vehicles and the company was managing to get sales worth Sh4 million in a month. Last year, he says, the tour firm was listed on what he calls “Top 100 SME’s by KPMG on number 26 with sales of up to 52 million.”
Today, Bella Safaris has departments such as air ticketing, tours and hospitality, transport and transfers, finance, HR and administration, and sales and marketing, each with a manager. With five senior staff (department managers), seven junior staff and three interns totalling to 15 in number, the company is strong enough to deliver. The team, he says, is responsible for offering air ticketing, tour guiding, team building activities as well as hotel and conference bookings.
“Start small, use what is at your disposal, be patient and consistent,” he says. “You can be sure we haven’t repeated any mistake… my team makes me proud everyday. They are passionate and I see that everyday. We learnt in school that specialization and division of labour is key in business and I have established exactly that in my company.”
For a guy whose capital was the first car that he had bought while he was employed, biggest challenge is how to make the business stand out in a competitive market. What gives him the edge is the fact that he is still an IT guru and that has helped him run the business because technology is taking over even in tours and travel field.
Mr Nyutu has also realised that some of the greatest ways to speed up the growth of a business like his calls for easy access to loans, getting rid of multiple taxations for SMEs, putting laws that ensure payment standards for credit options are followed especially by corporates as well as cross branding with other brands.
Cutting off on unmet expectations and disappointments calls for his company to disclose everything to customers, which he says is working to their advantage. He generally looks at what is the purpose of a customer’s travel and become an advisor of the best destination and in what season, say, summer or winter.
Despite the good start, it has not been a smooth ride. Patience, perseverance and persistence have been key besides many mistakes along the way that taught him the lessons. There are also times when there is slow down in demand for tour services. But being strategic has been a pillar in Nyutu’s company – different services he provides make sure that one is compensating the other because they run in different times of the year.
To him, challenges are opportunities to see what is on the other side. For example, when a corporate client doesn’t pay on time and you have limited funds to run the business, what can you do without revenue in the company?
“My mantra has been to be proactive rather than reactive because what we are looking for in a solution anyway. We do offer customized packages, we partner with hotels that are best rated in the market all over the world, we have airline partners thus very easy to book flights to different destinations,” Nyutu says, adding that the company tends to avoid hidden costs or surprises.
One of his goals is to offer personalised travel services. He says: “Personalised travel services is on high demand as such, we are left with no option but to specialise in it. Everyone likes their meal served differently and the customer is always right!”
Education: For those looking to study abroad, students going on trips, exchange programs and forums for student leaders.
Business: For people whose interests are to invest abroad or import goods for sale
Medication:seeking treatment abroad, we can help in identifying affordable accommodation, transfers and direct timely flights to treatment centres
Leisure: looking to explore either by private or public means
Spiritual: pilgrimage and church trips for different departments, age groups and management levels.