How 2 Childhood Friends Started Multi-Million Company With No Capital

  • Expeditions Maasai Safaris CEO Pancras Karema and Managing Director Lawrence Gitonga shared on August 16, 2021.
    Expeditions Maasai Safaris CEO Pancras Karema and Managing Director Lawrence Gitonga shared on August 16, 2021.
    Pancras Karema Facebook
  • Two childhood friends came together and built a successful multi-million business in 7 years. The duo revealed that they did not have capital when they started Expeditions Maasai Safaris.

    Chief Executive Officer, Pancras Karema and Managing Director, Lawrence Gitonga, started the tour company while in University. The duo grew up near the Mt Kenya forest in Nanyuki, making them cognizant of the huge number of tourists who would ply the route headed for adventure in Mount Kenya and Samburu National Reserve. 

    During their senior years in university, Karema and Gitonga started organizing expeditions for their friends and other college students. After several trips, they realized they were onto something and decided to formalize their operations by registering the business and creating a Facebook page. 

    They told Kenyans.co.ke that at the time, they did not have any capital and they relied on their clients who were happy to pay in full for an adventure. 

    Expeditions Maasai Safaris CEO Pancras Karema and Managing Director Lawrence Gitonga in Mwea shared on June 8, 2021.
    Expeditions Maasai Safaris CEO Pancras Karema and Managing Director Lawrence Gitonga in Mwea shared on June 8, 2021.
    David Gate Facebook

    "We did not spend any capital when starting out. Helped by the fact that we were the only company doing such expeditions and our vibrant presence on Facebook, our customers had no problem paying the full amount upfront and we would use the money to hire the buses, organize other logistics and something for the company," Karema stated.

    "It was not difficult to get our first clients since most of them were our classmates at the University of Nairobi and they would refer their friends. We also leveraged on Facebook to market our upcoming trips and the market reception was incredible," he added.

    The two managed to scale the business and now have three branches in the country. They also increased their customer base and currently they serve at least 5,000 per month. 

    The tour company has been nominated and won prestigious awards as Kenya’s Leading Travel Agency, Kenya's Leading Tour company by the World Travel Awards, SME of the year, tourism and hospitality SME award by Bizna Kenya, the Most improved tours brand in the use of Tech solutions by Digital Tech excellence awards and social media organisation of the year Biz Yangu award by OLXSOMA Awards.

    Karema stated that among the things that make their company lucrative to travellers is their module, which allows clients to pay for their trips in instalments.

    "As a passionate team of professionals, we are driven by the vision to enable every household in Kenya to afford a holiday regardless of their income. Everyone in our team is working in their dream role and is very passionate about seeing our customers get the most out of the holiday spent with us," he stated.

    The CEO went on to reveal that the company has served half a million customers to date, but this does not come without a fair share of challenges. The pandemic was a challenge for the industry and the company felt the effects just like other businesses around the world.

    Karema expressed that although they have managed to retain quality employees, finding good staff members was a challenge for them because the right team is what it took for them to win.

    "Some of the main challenges in tours and travel are external – for instance, when the security of our country deteriorates, issues like the current pandemic make it very hard for businesses like ours.

    "Other manageable challenges have been identifying and hiring the right team with the required mindset, but we have been very fortunate to have attracted and retained some of the best employees for the job in the entire country," he noted.

    Expeditions Maasai Safaris CEO Pancras Karema and Managing Director Lawrence Gitonga with Comedian Captain Otoyo at Hilton Hotel, Nairobi on October 30, 2021.
    Expeditions Maasai Safaris CEO Pancras Karema and Managing Director Lawrence Gitonga with Comedian Captain Otoyo at Hilton Hotel, Nairobi on October 30, 2021.
    Pancras Karema Facebook