In perhaps one of the least well-timed launches of the year, Nigerian startup Nwanndo launched its web app earlier in May, offering users access to what is essentially an “Airbnb for Africa”.
Founded by Okereke Ikenna and Venetia Grant, Nwanndo connects people with places to stay and things to do around Africa, and allows individuals to monetise their extra space or travel expertise.
The startup’s goal is to open up a new type of tourism trade in Africa, removing the need for travel agents and helping locals make money while showcasing the best the continent has to offer.
“Nwanndo solves many problems in our society,” Ikenna told Disrupt Africa. “It allows travellers a less expensive option, and it allows local renters to mitigate the high costs of rent and to have more flexibility. Thirdly, it helps small investors that want to be more involved than just being a traditional landlord, which only gives very small returns.”
The startup is currently operating in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, and is looking to expand to the rest of Africa and overseas as it enters into discussions with investors. The platform, which charges hosts a 10 per cent commission on any booking, did not launch at an opportune time, given the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns and travel bans, but has so far rented out two rooms.
Ikenna acknowledges that the timing was not great, but said there has never been a perfect time to start a business.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions. The tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread,” he said.
“Therefore it is a great time for us to look inwards, to the development and exploring of our tourism industry. COVID-19 is a phase, but tourism and travel are in us as humans,” he said.